10 Best Sports Video Games With RPG Elements

Since the beginning of video game history, sports and video games have always been linked. For example, in 1958, the American physicist William Higinbotham created what is often considered the first video game, tennis for two, which simulated a game of tennis between two players on an oscilloscope.

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Although decades have passed since then, the sports game genre has remained a popular category in the gaming industry. While the gameplay is generally focused on simulating a sport, some of these games have started to add elements of other genres, especially the RPG genre.


WWE SmackDown! here comes the pain

The start of a Tornado 6-Man Tag match in WWE Smackdown!  here comes the pain

Considered one of the best wrestling video games ever made, WWE SmackDown! here comes the pain is a 2003 PS2 game that was the fifth mainline entry in the WWE series of games. As a result of WWE SmackDown! Shut up, the game has many of the same gameplay mechanics that made the previous title an incredible improvement on WWF SmackDown! just bring it. But, it also had a lot of cool additions, such as a new grappling hook system and the introduction of “legends”.

The best part about this title, however, was the new Season Mode, which is an RPG mode that lets players take on the role of a wrestler. While experiencing different stories that take surprising turns, the player will participate in various matches and improve their character’s stats.

Mario Golf (Game Boy Color)

Mario during the Mario Golf game intro on Game Boy Color

When it was revealed that the 2021 game Mario Golf: Super Rush was going to have a JRPG mode titled “Golf Adventure”, people who didn’t know much about previous entries in the series were surprised. Longtime fans, however, saw it as a possible throwback to the JRPG mechanics introduced in 1999. Mario Golf for the Game Boy Color. In this game, players control an original character who tries to become the best golfer and surpass Mario.

Years later, this same idea would return in the 2004 Game Boy Advance title. Mario Golf: advanced tour. While these two games didn’t have the most in-depth JRPG experience, they were both powerful enough for gamers to get invested in.

Legend of the River King

The main character is tasked with catching a legendary fish to save his sister in the Game Boy Color version of Legend of the River King

Created by the same developers who would later work on the story of the seasons franchise, the Kawa no Nushi Tsuri series, which is called the king of the river Where harvest fishing series internationally, is a fishing JRPG series that started in 1990. Legend of the River King is the 1997 entry for the Game Boy and Game Boy Color, and was the first game in the series to be released outside of Japan.

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In this game, the player controls a young boy who goes on a journey to catch the guardian fish, which is the only thing powerful enough to heal his sister who has fallen ill. To acquire the necessary skills to catch this legendary fish, the player will have to explore several cities, fight wild animals and catch many kinds of fish. Besides this game, three other entries in the franchise have been released internationally, with the 2007 River King: Mystical Valley for the Nintendo DS being the last.

golf history

A screenshot from the game Golf Story

Inspired by Mario Golf on the Game Boy Color, golf history is an award-winning 2017 adventure RPG that follows a man who decides to recapture his childhood love for golf by playing for the first time in 20 years and aiming for eventual victory in the professional tournament. To succeed, the player must travel through eight unique areas and beat multiple courses.

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But, the golf-sim aspect is only part of the whole experience. The main character will encounter a diverse cast of characters that will help him grow, and there are plenty of side quests and mini-games along the way. Shortly after the success of this title, the Sidebar Games studio revealed that they were working on a sequel titled Sports history.

Ganbare! Super Attackers

A screenshot of the game Ganbare!  Super Attackers

Released in 2018, Ganbare! Super Attackers is a football simulation mixed with a turn-based tactical RPG. Similar to the Captain Tsubasa series, the game follows a small-town soccer team in Japan as they work hard to become the best in the country. As a customizable protagonist, the player will encounter many different characters who each have their own unique abilities that they learn over time.

As the matches progress, characters gain experience and new gear that will not only increase their stats, but also protect them against status effects. Eventually, the protagonist will join the national team and team up with former rivals to take on the rest of the world.

dodgeball academy

A screenshot from the game Dodgeball Academia

Inspired by popular shounen anime, dodgeball academy is an award-winning 2021 sports RPG that follows a student named Otto who joins the first dodgeball school so he can achieve his dream of becoming the ultimate dodgeball champion. Throughout eight episodes, Otto will make many interesting friends and foes as he rises to the top.

Although the plot follows many typical tropes, the lovable cast and ever-changing gameplay ensure that the player is invested from start to finish. While searching for secrets, completing side quests, and playing mini-games, players will experience a catchy soundtrack and dynamic art style that never gets old.

Inazuma Eleven

The Inazuma Eleven crew posing together

Created by Level-5, which is best known for its Professor Layton, Ni no Kuniand Yo-kai Watch franchise, Inazuma Eleven is a 2008 football JRPG on the Nintendo DS that kicked off the expansion Inazuma Eleven franchise. Originally released only in Japan and Europe, it finally became available in North America in 2014 as an upgraded 3DS port.

This first episode follows a talented young goalkeeper named Mamoru Endou, or Mark Evans in translation, as he attempts to save the Raimon Junior High football team from disbandment by making the team the best in Japan. Despite the seemingly regular sports anime plot, the series takes a completely different direction which involves special powers called Hissatsu, attempted murders, aliens, and more.


A screenshot from the game Pyre

Developed by Supergiant Games, who also created other beautiful indie titles such as Hades, Transistor, and Stronghold, Pyre is a 2017 fantasy action-RPG where players control the reader, who is a faceless protagonist who was exiled from his home because reading was banned. Now the reader must help himself and other exiled individuals escape from the mystical land called Downside by performing rites.

Unlike other games on this list which focus on sports that exist in real life, bonfire focuses on a fictional sport where two teams of three players compete by throwing orbs at the enemy team’s pyre. Although the game seems simple at first, the player slowly unlocks new abilities that give more tactical depth.

racing lagoon

A screenshot from the game Racing Lagoon

The street racing JRPG of 1999 racing lagoon is another example of a great Japanese game that never had an official English localization. Luckily, in November 2021, an English fan translation was finally released for this classic Square game. The game follows a rookie racer, Sho Akasaki, who joins a team of street racers called “Team Bay Lagoon Racing”.

As the player travels through cities, races against other racers, and customizes their car, Akasaki becomes caught up in a complicated story surrounding his own forgotten past, a legendary racer, the corporate underworld, and the dangers of racing. Street. Since the game was written by Motomu Toriyama, it gets really absurdly poetic at times, but it also manages to convey some deep themes.

Captain Tsubasa: The Rise of New Champions

The main character, Tsubasa, in the game Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions

Released in 2020, Captain Tsubasa: The Rise of New Champions is a soccer game based on the 2018 anime remake of Captain Tsubasa. Due to its direct connection to the anime, the single-player story mode, “Episode Tsubasa”, allows the player to literally play through the plot of the series. Depending on the player’s actions during matches, slightly different events and cutscenes will occur.

Along with this, the player can also choose “Episode New Hero” and create their own character in the universe. While the camera can be a bit boring and the visual novel sections a bit bland, the overall experience still lives up to the iconic series.

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