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Sports video games you'll probably enjoy even if you don't like sports

Sports video games can be a tough sell. While many players love sports games, more often than not they're already fans of the sport these titles are modeled after. They understand how it is played and want to take their fandom one step further without trying to go pro (which might be a bad idea for a number of reasons, especially if you're into football). However, producing sports games for sports fans has an ingrained problem that limits their prospective player bases: If someone isn't already a fan of the sport, they likely won't enjoy the video game.

However, this conundrum provides the opportunity for game developers to flex their creative muscles. If a certain demographic doesn't enjoy a sports game because it plays like a sport they don't like, then a studio can attempt to translate the sports game into a genre they do enjoy. Striking this balance is far from easy, but it has been done before. Studios have produced sports video games for audiences who don't like sports, and here are just a few of them. These shouldn't be confused with good sports games you've probably never played, though, since those are just obscure gems that play like their source material. The following titles do not.

Regular Human Basketball

When someone asks you to play virtual basketball, you may assume they want you to participate in a round of dribbling down digital courts, passing the ball between teammates, and shooting hoops. Climbing through rickety mechs and pushing buttons to magnetize the ball and crumple over other mechs in a mess of metal and rivets likely doesn't come to mind. That's exactly what the developers at Powerhoof were thinking when they produced Regular Human Basketball.

As you may be able to tell by the name, there is nothing "regular" about Regular Human Basketball. According to Rock Paper Shotgun's Matt Cox, the game combines the party, multiplayer mechanics of Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime with the intentionally jerky movements and physics of QWOP and mashes them together into a competitive environment. Players have to cooperate to control the individual limbs of their completely not-artificial basketball mechs. The result is, as Destructoid put it, a "beautiful monstrosity."

Regular Human Basketball's fun doesn't lie in outscoring your opponent but instead working around the intentionally unintuitive controls and physics to score a point in the first place. The game is designed to be a humorous struggle, so don't feel too bad if you're terrible at Regular Human Basketball. That's the entire point.

Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions

For some gamers, standard soccer titles can get a little repetitive. Players pass a ball between each other, shoot the ball into a net, and repeat ad nauseam until one team wins. Where's the action? Where's the drama? Where's the anime? In Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions, that's where.

As noted by DualShockers, Rise of New Champions has all the trappings of a standard soccer match, but the game also simplifies the experience and adds RPG-like elements from the source material to provide fast-paced, almost arcadey action. You still partake in age-old soccer practices such as passing the ball between teammates and shooting balls into goals to score, but in Rise of New Champions, you no longer have to worry about accruing fouls when you tackle opponents (and vice versa). Moreover, each character features a unique set of skills, most notably the ability to charge up shots and unleash fiery streaks at the goal net that wouldn't look out of place in an early episode of Dragon Ball Z.

Add in a story mode that brings newcomers up to speed with the world of Captain Tsubasa (and doesn't feel half baked like some sports game story modes), and Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions gives soccer a real shot in the arm.

Blood Bowl

Football players utilize a lot of strategy. However you only have so much time to plan your plays before opponents turn your spine into a Penrose triangle. So, what would happen if developers created a football game where action unfurled one turn at a time? What if they also explored how things would play out if dwarfs and orcs settled their differences on the football field?

The Blood Bowl series of titles are based on the tabletop game of the same name. Imagine an alternate take on the fantasy Warhammer universe where every race put down their weapons and played football instead. Death, destruction, and disemboweling are still commonplace, but instead of murdering opponents in the name of a demon god, teams kill one another for a cereal sponsorship.

As you might have guessed, the Blood Bowl video game series translates its source material's rules into video game mechanics. Instead of steering characters down a field, players take turns inching teams down the gridiron, tactically positioning their characters and rolling dice to make throws and tackles. Since the Blood Bowl franchise emphasizes tactics and strategy, it isn't for everyone. However, Blood Bowl might convince fans of games like XCOM and Total War to pick up a digital pigskin.