Sergei Bobrovsky or Martin Brodeur – who you got?
For the second straight year, the folks at EA Sports have decided to leave the cover athlete selection in the hands of their gamers by creating a March Madness-like bracket tournament. After weeks of fan voting through Twitter, it’s down to two goaltenders – the New Jersey Devils’ future hall of famer or a Vezina finalist and up-and-coming star from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The final round got us thinking of some of the most memorable sports video game covers of all-time, so we look back at which are our favorites, whether it be because of the athletes, the cover art, or just the pure nostalgic awesomeness.
Honorable Mention – Tiger Woods PGA Tour ‘10
Tiger Woods has done so much for golf, both in real life and in video games, which is why it would have been difficult to leave him off the list. His EA Sports franchise is the most successful ever as far as golf goes and there’s no cover that better represents Woods than the 2010 edition, which depicts the golfer doing his patented fist-pump celebration. There was little actual celebration for Woods though, as he battled scandal and an eventual divorce that same year, hurting his image and his golf game.
10 – Madden 2003
There wasn’t anything too flashy about the Madden 2003 cover, which featured St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk. It was simple with lettering in front of a picture of Faulk performing one of his classic cuts that helped “The Greatest Show on Turf” win the franchise’s only Super Bowl four years earlier. The appearance put the whammy on Faulk, who had just 1108 total yards and 11 touchdowns.
9 – Blades of Steel
Ah, early Nintendo cover art at its finest. There was no cover athlete; instead the imagery looked like something right out of the end of Rocky III. It featured three non-NHL licensed pictures – one of a goaltender, one of players fighting and one of a puck carrier with a defenseman hot on his tail. We remember the cover fondly but most might not, thanks to hours and hours of following that stupid little arrow responsible for controlling the goaltender.
8 – FIFA ’08
Wayne Rooney and Ronaldinho became quite the pairing for soccer’s biggest video game franchise, and although the two were on it for four straight years, the 2008 version was the best. It featured Rooney doing his classic yell, while Ronaldinho was off to his right, back to the audience, looking cool as always. Rooney finished the year with 20 goals in 48 club appearances. Ronaldinho had 11 in as many appearances. Safe to say there was no curse like its “American football” rival.
7 – Jordan vs. Bird: One-On-One
Unlicensed by the NBA, the cover to this Nintendo gem featured both Larry Bird and Michael Jordan in workout gear trying to grab a rebound from the rim. It looked more like an Atari game from years before, yet still featured more basketball star power than has ever been visible from a local department store glass case.
6 – Major League Baseball featuring Ken Griffey Jr.
The only thing missing from the cover of this Nintendo 64 game was a backwards hat. Before Junior went to Cincinnati to watch his career fade away, he was belting homers with the Seattle Mariners and becoming a pop culture phenom,; so much so he got his own video game; this being the follow up from his Super NES classic. He’s featured in the middle of one of his big swings, while a body diagram shadows him. It just screams 1997 – in a good way.
5 – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4
While Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 wasn’t the best volume in the franchise, the cover was certainly the best it had to offer. The past covers had featured its namesake doing a trick and this sequel was no different – but it was much better. The photo was a close up of Hawk doing a nosegrab from the top of a vert ramp, where he spent most of his professional career. The game itself simply wasn’t that great and unlocking Eddie from Iron Maiden and Jango Fett was the best part of this game – but they wouldn’t have looked good on the cover, that’s for sure.
4 – NBA Live 2001
NBA Live 2001 featured Minnesota Timberwolves superstar Kevin Garnett and had a similar look to that of the Madden cover with Faulk on it. But the look and face that Garnett was making was quite memorable and perhaps the best the basketball video game franchise had to offer. It appeared as though he was screaming, “anything is possible” – oh wait that wasn’t until quite awhile later. He did have quite a good season on the court that year though.
3 – NHL ’97
The most memorable – and perhaps most nostalgic – of EA Sports’ NHL series was its 1997 cover which featured Florida Panthers goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck. The man nicknamed “Beezer” is making one of his notorious kick saves and showing off the mask that is one of our favorites of all time. He had another excellent season that year, but the cover was his swan song with the Panthers.
2 – Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out
Boxer Mike Tyson is a legend -- and so is his classic Nintendo game Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. The game is arguably one of the most difficult of all-time and has a cover that’s just as tough. It features Tyson, laying a beat down on some poor victim’s face, as per usual. We can almost hear him talking like a little kid threatening to eat his children…or some nonsense.
1 – Super Wrestlemania
There’s plenty of awesome on the cover of this Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis game, so much so that it practically makes our heads explode! Of course it has the typical hokey picture of Hulk Hogan ripping his shirt off, but surrounding him are photos of such legends as the Ultimate Warrior and Macho Man Randy Savage. There were a couple versions of the cover but no matter which one, they all offer the same amount of nostalgic, cheesy goodness. And the game was just as epic as the box.