The 10 Best Sports Games on the iPhone
This is our first ever roundup of the best sports games on iPhone. The list was compiled with the help of all the editors at GamePro (as well as some of our trusty freelancers), whose taste in sports games range from hyper realistic ball physics and baseball stats to fiery basketballs and super-powered soccer players. Whether you're a hardcore sports fan looking for mobile versions of the simulations you know and love from home consoles, or more of an arcade gamer looking for quick and fun fix on the App Store, you're sure to find something to love in our list of the best 10 sports games on the iPhone.
10 | Madden 12
Madden 12 is arguably the most comprehensive and best-looking American football game to ever grace the mobile platform. With full playbooks, realistic physics, the ability to audible and create hot-routes, and the likeness of real players and teams, Madden 12 is dripping with authenticity. While dedicated console football fans will find it a bit de-tuned, it's intuitive interface and ability to be picked up by just about anyone makes it a great entrance into the series.
9 | NFL Rivals
NFL Rivals is an official NFL re-skinning of NaturalMotion's Backbreaker games. It's essentially a series of score-based training drills where you run around a football field either scoring touchdowns, or tackling a ball-carrier while avoiding various obstacles, tacklers or blockers.
The controls are simple with quick taps allowing you to juke, spin or showboat around the field, but the depth comes from the continual addition of new challenges and a 3-star rating system that encourages you to pursue new tactics for better scores.
While it's far from a Madden-esque simulation, NFL Rivals is a sports game that scratches the 'just one more round' itch very well.
8 | Flick Soccer!
Flick Soccer! is a free kick game where you use a well-timed, well-weighted flick of the finger to "kick" a ball and try to score goals. Depending on how you flick, and indeed how you "after-touch" the ball with an additional swipe while it's in flight, you can shoot with the accuracy of a Brazilian dead-all specialist -- assuming you practice enough.
The game packs a bunch of different mini-game challenges, including such things as shooting at ever-shrinking targets, and trying to score against an increasingly challenging keeper and defensive wall. They're all fun, thanks to the fact that the flick-to-kick mechanic is absolutely brilliantly weighted. Its beauty is in its simplicity -- it doesn't take very long to get the general hang of the kick mechanic and start knocking in the goals, but the amount of finessing you're able to do allows you to gain a mastery of the game that is truly satisfying.
7 | FIFA 2012
FIFA 12 on iPhone is a very solid soccer simulation in the palm of your hand, with plenty to do including daily challenges, quick-matches, and a fairly robust manager mode.
The virtual sticks and buttons are surprisingly effective and positioned so they don't get in the way of the on-field game. The gesture controls are there to help fine-tune the experience, like helping you get past defenders with a quick double-tap to maneuver the ball, or a swipe up to chip your shots. It's easily one of the best simulation sports games on the iPhone.
6 | iOOTP Baseball 2011
For some sports fans - especially the more nerdy, stat-analyzing baseball fans who treat Moneyball like the holy scriptures - the actual action of sports is secondary to the information to be gleaned by poring over spreadsheets of the results. For them, there are games like Football Manager, which is very popular amongst European football fans. But for baseball freaks, there is only one solution: iOOTP. OOTP stands for "Out Of The Park" baseball, and the incredibly deep series of baseball management sims has been around since the late 90's, so the core text-based game is pretty well refined by now. Moving to the iOS platform seems like a perfect move, since checking on your team and making some roster moves can be a great 5-10 minute diversion. Don't let the platform fool you though: iOOTP is for serious, hard core baseball stat nerds. Flick Home Run fans should not apply.
5 | Let's Golf! 3
Even if you're married to the impressive Lets Golf series, this return to the fairway comes with a fair share of hazards. For one, this title introduces a free-to-play model that only lets you play as many strokes as you have "energy" for -- energy that you can either earn (by waiting) or buy (with money). Additionally, the framerate may cause you a few problems during some random swings.
But if you can soldier through the odd functional sand trap, there's a lot of stuff to do -- mini-games, multiplayer matches, skill shots, and a completely odd assortment of holes to play through. And if you want a more personal touch, the new avatar creation system lets you give your golfer of choice a completely custom look. It's better played on an iPad for accuracy, but an iPhone is the better performing platform -- hopefully, some patches will smooth things out.
4 | Baseball Superstars 2011 Pro
With improved pitching controls, better graphics, and more intuitive base-management, Baseball Superstars is back for another year of weirdly deep baseball simulation. Number geeks will love Superstars' intense season mode, and those who've refined their skills with past titles in the series are likely to get a lot of mileage out of the newly revamped online component.
Honestly, this is not a game for people looking for a lightweight, pick-up-and-play baseball game. Despite its cutesy appearance, Superstars is about as hardcore of a simulation game as you can get. The sheer number of customization options and modes it offers might overwhelming, but after creating a character, spending a lot of time reading the manual, and playing a ridiculous number of games you'll catch on. If intricate RPG elements and season modes that you can sink dozens (if not more) hours into are your thing, by all means pick up your bat and step up to Baseball Superstars 2011's plate.
3 | Soccer Superstars 2011
Even if it doesn't exactly resemble real soccer Soccer Superstars 2011 is an incredibly deep sports game with a variety of options available for long-term commitments. Styled much like an old Super Nintendo title, GameEvil's take on the popular field sport takes the same arcade-y approach that you've probably seen in any number of the similar-look Baseball Superstars. Ditching hard realism, SS 2011 features special players with super-powered kicking powers, often with flashy effects.
Coupled with the retro-style gameplay, Soccer Superstars 2011 also gives you plenty of ways to get the ball rolling in several modes. Numerous countries are represented in the game, and whether you play a world tour, regional cup tournaments, or simply coach a team to victory, there's something new to do at each turn. At the very least, it'll help you pass the time until the next World Cup.
2 | NBA Jam
This iOS port has all of the playable characters you'd expect from the console versions of the game, including special characters like mascots and political figures like President Obama and Sarah Palin. The classic two-on-two game comes packed with a campaign mode, dozens of challenges that allow you to unlock legendary players, and a classic "play now" option for whenever you feel like dunking a burning basketball over the enlarged heads of some AI opponents.
NBA Jam uses three virtual buttons (turbo, jump/shoot, and steal/shove) as well as a virtual stick for movement, and that all works surprisingly well. Everything from the way players move to the shouting announcer who knows the names of every single player ("Obama goes for the three-pointer!") smacks of a game that should cost far more than $0.99, especially by App Store standards.
Aside from its unfortunate lack of two-player options, this is a complete package that controls beautifully and has production values that could easily rival that of the Wii version's. Even if you're not a huge NBA fan, this is a basketball game that can stand on its own based purely on the fun offered by its mechanics.
1 | Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
Many say that the best Tony Hawk's Pro Skater game is THPS 2 (even though the correct answer is THPS 3), and now you can carry it wherever you go.
The iPhone inherits the pros and cons of the original game, making THPS2 both great and occasionally a little frustrating. Its portability works well with the 2 minute time-limit of the old Tony Hawk games, so you do a few high-score runs and the put it down - or sit down for a marathon session if you have time. The virtual controls are a bit tricky to get to grips with, as they often are in iOS console game ports, but practice makes perfect, and once you're up to speed it's the same great Tony Hawk experience you remember.