What is the Best Action Sports Video Game Ever Made?
Vote in the poll and help us settle the ultimate argument once and for all...
What is the best action sports video game of all time?
There’s an obvious answer to that question. The thing is, that answer tends to differ depending on who you ask, when they were born, what their sport of choice is and how many game consoles they’ve owned in the past 20 years.
So, when the question arose at Mpora HQ this morning, we decided to do what any sensible adults would in our situation; frantically shout our own opinions over one-another, disagreeing with anything contradictory to our own selections, and then make a poll to let the public decide.
Below you’ll find a poll in which you can vote for what you believe to be the best action sports game ever. But first, some words from the staff at Mpora, Factory Media and Square Up on exactly why we have narrowed it down to the following 10 video games. Your best bet is probably to find the opinion you agree with, and then angrily dismiss everything else…
Or did we miss out your favourite entirely? Let us know in the comments if so!
Quite literally the OG of all the pre-installed computer games that shaped our early gaming days. Everyone remembers the simple but addictive concept of guiding the pixelated skier down the hill, avoiding trees and rocks along the way... And everyone remembers the sheer horror of when the mountain yeti made a guest appearance. It shaped my childhood and also provided me with an irrational fear of yetis.
Tilly Tasker, Editor, Ski Union
1080° Snowboarding (1998)
The mighty 64 was arguably the last truly great console Nintendo produced. I was still losing large chunks of my life to Goldeneye at university, a full seven years after it first came out. While no-one would put 1080 Snowboarding in the same space as that stone cold classic, it is still hands down my favourite ever action sports game.
Objectively speaking, 1080 Snowboarding was not a great game. It wasn’t even a good game if we're honest. The gameplay had little in common with actual snowboarding - it was all about racing for starters, and although you could do tricks to gain extra points, you couldn’t get inverted. Weirder still, it wouldn't let you spin and grab at the same time. Meanwhile doing the titular trick - at the time the biggest rotation possible on a board - required a ridiculously contorted button combo that I never mastered.
And yet for all its fundamental flaws, this game will always have a special place in my heart. It came out in the year I first stepped on a board, and as a snow-obsessed 12-year-old who couldn’t ride often enough, this helped scratch the itch.
Tristan Kennedy, Editor-in-Chief, Mpora
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 (2001)
Oh man! Where to start… I’ve played this game more than any 30 year old should admit. Although I’m sure I’m not alone in that regard. It’s hard to believe that this was released in 2001 – that’s 16 years ago, half my lifetime! In the opinion of many riders who came up in the early 2000’s, Mirra 2 is the gold standard of BMX in gaming. Rightly so, as it’s still got a lot going for it. That moment you drop in at Woodward to the sound of Gangstar’s ‘Moment of Truth’ is one that’s ingrained deeply into the mind of any rider from that era.
Scott Connor, Senior Contributor, Ride UK BMX
Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX (2001)
Vert, Street and Dirt on one little cartridge? Eat your heart out Tony Hawk. This was like Pokemon for BMX - portable, and in colour no less! The graphics might have aged like the picture of Dorian Gray but they were unbelievable at the time. Those silhouetted skylines could strike wanderlust into the most anxious traveller.
“I really just wanted to make sure it represented BMX right and represented us right," Mat told me, when I finally fulfilled my fantasy of talking to him about this franchise. “I spent half my childhood annoying my mother playing this with the sound up on a bright green Gameboy Colour," I told him, starry eyed. He swiftly then changed the topic.
Stuart Kenny, Associate Editor, Mpora
California Games (1987)
California Games takes me back to a time where the internet didn't exist, my knees didn't creak like an outhouse toilet door and long before the concept of 'Action Sports' was a thing. The beauty of this game lay in its simplicity; the basic graphics and the soundtrack that is indelibly burned into my consciousness.
From a skateboarding perspective, the contrast between the faithfully rendered half pipe (complete with Santa Cruz and Ocean Pacific logos) and the reality that you could only do three tricks - kickturn, handplant and 'aerial turn' just added a certain quaintness to the experience. You could only go backside too weirdly - which suited me as I can't go frontside.
My one enduring memory of this game is the fact that the Mega Drive that myself and three fellow potheads shared in the 90's was also faulty and meant that with enough runs on the halfpipe the skater would eventually fly off the screen, your score would go up into the millions, and the console would crash. This was as reliable as a Kennedy funeral and never stopped being funny. Ah… halcyon days.
Ben Powell, Editor-in-Chief, Sidewalk
California Games (Again)
Multiple games in one. BMX, skateboarding, surfing, roller skating. Plus it was f**king hard as balls. The hacky sack/freestyle footbag game was just stupidly difficult as soon as you tried to do anything beyond the absolute basics; a combination of requiring precision and an avatar that moved as fast as a geriatric narcoleptic made stringing together more than a couple of moves the digital equivalent of the Labours of Hercules. Insanely frustrating in the deeply satisfying way only the 8-bit classics were capable of being.
AJ Cerqueti, Lead Developer, Square Up Media Group
SSX Tricky (2001)
Taken at face value, SSX Tricky is an abomination – a TV executive’s crazed sex dream about snowboarding, thought up whilst sleeping off a coke binge in the back of their chauffeur-driven Jag on the way to work at Channel 4.
But somehow despite all the gratuitous ridiculousness including, but not limited to: a freestyle mode called ‘Showoff,’ space age courses, step-in bindings that allowed for hallucinatory ‘special moves’ and a techno-influenced soundtrack, this is by far this editor’s favourite. C’mon, it even had mother-fuckin’ Razhel commentating!
Essentially it learned from the likes of THPS by realising that if you limit video games to reality the best you’d have was something that was, well, realistic. But fuck that, reality is boring! By force feeding the game designers meth amphetamines – which is clearly what happened here – they’d be able to go a step beyond and create something glorious.
Sam McMahon, Deputy Editor, Whitelines
Skate 2 (2009)
Playing Skate 2 always felt like an authentic skateboarding experience, which is odd, given all you’re really doing is sitting in your bedroom, flicking a mushroom on a controller, while not speaking to members of the opposite sex, which is fine of course because SKATE 2 WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU.
The massive city of San Vanelona, to this day, still holds undiscovered secret little areas. The career mode was as immersive or as ignorable as you wanted it to be, but never felt like you were doing wacky Bam Margera shit just for the sake of it.
Yes, the character creator was rubbish, the acting wooden, and doing specific tricks required the fine motor-movements of a surgeon on Diazepam, but all of this just added to the charm. It was beautiful, intelligent, funny, and seemingly unconquerable. Just like those girls you never spoke to.
James Renhard, Associate Editor, Mpora
SSX 3 (2003)
I am not the world’s best snowboarder. Draw a 10-metre circle round me on any given day, in any given place, and you can be assured that within that circle there will be someone who’s better than me at snowboarding. On SSX 3 however, I was a snowboarding god.
Through the body of my fictional on-screen snowboarder Viggo Rolig (hipster, party animal and dedicated parka-wearer), I indulged in the fantasy of being an ice-cool snowboarder who could pull off impossible trick after impossible trick without even breaking sweat. The game was big, stupid, and insanely fun to play; with the backcountry segments, in particular, being a real favourite of mine.
SSX 3’s soundtrack was also an absolute banger, featuring such tracks as ‘Jerk It Out’ by Caesars, ‘Higher Ground’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, ‘No One Knows’ by Queens of the Stone Age and ‘Way Away’ by Yellowcard. Total tune-fest.
Jack Clayton, Associate Editor, Mpora
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 (2000)
While games like Skate upped the ante in terms of realistic gameplay, for me THPS 2 will always be the source. Catching the imagination of thousands of teething gamers and skaters at once, it hit the sweet spot in a way that many of its future reincarnations couldn't quite match.
Legit soundtrack meets ridiculously long combos, and multiplayer games that turned birthday parties into a battle for 'next controller' rights, all staged in arenas that housed hidden areas that you were sure would change everything once you got to them.
Aiming yourself towards spinning video tapes and SKATE letters made levels like Downhill Jam a brilliant mix of fun and frustration! You couldn't step off your board of course, but that's fine, because you didn't want to walk. You just wanted to gun it around at full pelt, fitting in as many tricks as possible and screaming 'fuck physics'. Who needs realism when you've got THPS 2?
Mike Brindley, Online Editor, Whitelines
Snowboard Kids (1997)
This one takes me take back to 1998, when Snowboard Kids went head-to-head with another N64 classic, 1080° Snowboarding. Snowboard Kids' cartoon characters may not have had the life-like appeal of 1080, but it more than made up for that by taking the best gameplay elements of Mario Kart onto the mountain. Blow up a rival player as they jump on the chairlift? No problem. Drop a rock into the snow to stall a mate? Easily done. Snowboard Kids may not have been a realistic shredding experience, but it was damn good fun.
George Scott, Editor-in-Chief, Road Cycling UK