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Top 15 Best Video Game Characters Based on Athletes

Sports and video games are connected more than some might think. The first video game to reach worldwide popularity was in fact a sports game. It was none other than Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabne’s (founders of Atari) creation called Pong, a table tennis game. Going from Pong in the early ‘70s to what we have now is remarkable. At some point along the way, sports organizations (MLB, NFL, etc.) and video game industries (Nintendo, Sony) decided to team up to bring a better experience for the video game user.

The outcome couldn’t have been more successful and this has helped usher in a new world of video game enthusiasts. It’s a great feeling to trash talk your friend over a game of Madden. We all have our favorite teams and players. Sometimes the developers of games make the athletes we love better than the rest of the roster.

This brings us to our list. To qualify, the character can be fictitious but has to be a replacement for a player who isn’t licensed for the game. Sorry to the fans of characters like Paste in Jaleco’s Bases Loaded, King in Sega’s Virtua Tennis, and the lovable Pablo Sanchez in Humongous Entertainment’s Backyard Sports. If the athlete is constantly unstoppable in ever title, they don’t make the list. Examples include superstars Peyton Manning, Barry Sanders, Lebron James, and Tiger Woods.

There are many characters that deserve to be on this list. Breaking it down to 15 was pretty tough, so I have to give a shout out to some awesome avatars. Honorable mentions include Devin Hester in EA Sport’s Madden’08. Sega’s NBA JAM had Dell Curry and the Utah Jazz. Celtic’s Larry Bird in NBA2k3 and Tom Chambers in EA’s Lakers vs. Celtics and the NBA Playoffs could put on dunk-a-thons all day. Who could forget about Shaq Fu? Last but not least, we have Allejo (replacement player for Ronaldo) in Konami’s International Superstar Soccer.

15 15. Bill Elliot

via giantbomb.com

Game: Bill Elliott's NASCAR Challenge

14 14. Tim Tebow

via kotaku.com

Game: EA Sports NCAA Football 2010

13 13. John Dowd

via ign.com

Game: MVP Baseball 2005

12 12. Jerry Rice

via cbssanfran

Game: N64's EA Sports Madden 98

11 11. Reggie Jackson

via baseball.hall.com

Game: R.B.I. Baseball

10 10. QB Eagles

via bacon.sports.com

Game: Tecmo Bowl

9 9. Charles Barkley

via giantbomb.com

Game: Barkley's Shut Up and Jam

8 8. Rickey Henderson

via peoplequiz.com

Game: R.B.I. Baseball 4

7 7. Lawrence Taylor

via polygon.com

Game: Tecmo Bowl

6 6. Ken Griffey Jr.

via giantbomb.com

Game: Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball

5 5. Jeremy Roenick

via sports.yahoo.com

Game: EA Sports NHL '94

4 4. Michael Vick

via espn.go.com

Game: EA Sports Madden 2004

3 3. Player 99

via pcgamescompendium.com

Game: NBA Live ‘96

2 2. Mike Tyson

Game: Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

1 1. Bo Jackson

via gamelab.mit.edu

Game: Tecmo Bowl

Think of all the highest rated athletes in video games, roll them into one, and maybe they’ll equal up to a quarter of what Jackson was in Tecmo Bowl. Hypothetically, if we lost our ability to use electronics today, Jackson would be talked about as if he was Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. Haven’t seen the film? He would be a myth or an urban legend because in no way, shape, or form would you believe what Jackson could do in that video game. It was so unfair that when playing the game with friends, as a rule, no one could be the Los Angeles Raiders.

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Top 15 Best Video Game Characters Based on Athletes