Every year we hear about the new sports game – you know, the Maddens, FIFAs, and NBA 2K15s of the world. But what about the off-the-wall sports titles? The one that do weird things with everyday sports, or take sports and make them part of a different genre entirely? These eight games are great examples of those titles.

Diabolical Pitch

When you hear the name Suda51, you probably don’t think of sports games, but that’s exactly what this one is. It’s not exactly a baseball game, but you play as a former star pitcher who has to retire due to an arm injury. When you get a new bionic arm, you don’t return to the diamond. Instead, you use your newfound pitching power to take out a bunch of aggressive stuffed animals in an amusement park. Diabolical Pitch launched in April of 2012 on the Xbox 360 as a Kinect game aimed at a mature demographic.

Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball

Bill Laimbeer was a star for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons from 1982 to 1993. During that time, he was the star of 1991’s Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball, a game set in 2030 that featured Laimbeer as the commissioner of a basketball league. In this league, there are no referees, no rules, no fouls, and the use of weapons is completely OK. Body checks are common, bombs and ninja stars sometimes appear on the court, and it’s basically a free-for-all. You know, kind of like the NBA today.

Base Wars

It’s the 24th century, and baseball owners have replaced human players with robots. In this new style of play, whether you are safe or out is determined by a fight between two robots, each of which can be upgraded and equipped with a variety of weapons. Robots with low hit points who get hit by a pitch, or who run out of hit points will explode, leaving their team shorthanded. If you lose three robots in a game, you forfeit, meaning that fighting alone can win you a game. Base Wars landed on the NES in 1991

Mutant League Football

Back before EA had a monopoly on the NFL license, they released a little game called Mutant League Football. Built on the Madden ’93 engine, it played a lot like regular football, except for being set in a post-apocalyptic future where the teams are made up of mutated humans, skeletons, aliens, robots and trolls. The field sported hazards like fire pits and land mines, and teams employ explosives and jet packs in a effort to reach the end zone. If all else fails, you can even bribe the ref twice a game. Mutant League Football was ported to the PSP in 2006, so you might actually be able to still check this one out. Plus, there’s still a company trying to make a modern sequel, though their Kickstarter did not get funded, and EA still owns the IP.

Blitz: The League

Midway’s Blitz: The League is an oddity – a football game with a Mature rating. The game depicts an ultra-violent version of football that featured dirty hits, gambling, steroid use, and more. Injuries are shown using a zoomed in x-ray camera, much like the Sniper Elite series. Due to the violence and use of drugs to ignore or overcome injuries, Blitz: The League was refused classification in Australia, effectively banning the game in that country.

Barkley: Shut Up and Jam Gaiden

Years ago, Charles Barkley performed a dunk so powerful that it killed thousands. A few years later, in a post-apocalyptic New York, someone throws down a Chaos Dunk that destroys Manhattan, and Charles Barkley is accused. To clear his name, he teams up with a descendant of LeBron James and a cybernetic Vince Carter to elude the B-Ball Removal Department, led by Michael Jordan. The game is a JRPG-style turn-based affair with timed button presses affecting combat, and you can download and play it free here.

Blood Bowl

A Warhammer-themed take on American football? Don’t mind if I do! Blood Bowl started out a board game, and made the jump to a video game twice – once in 1995, and again in 2009. Players choose from one of eight races (Humans, Orcs, Dwarves, Lizardmen, Skaven, Goblins, Chaos, or Wood Elves), and build their team. As they play through a career, they’ll have to replace of heal their players to keep them on the field and keep winning. The game can be played in either turn-based or real-time mode, and dice rolls (influenced by skills) determine the outcome of the game.

Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis

You’re probably wondering why I find table tennis weird. Well, when it’s a game developed and published by Rockstar Games, you’ll forgive me if I keep waiting for something to explode or a twist to become apparent. Once you get past the incredulity you’re bound to feel, what you find is a pretty darn solid table tennis game. You can play against the AI, or compete against other players in online or offline multiplayer. It was a simple, well-put together title that surprised many gamers, including me.

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