Honestly, I bought my PlayStation in 1998 to primarily play sports titles. Ever since I the NES I always loved sports simulation games such as Tecmo Super Bowl and NBA Live. I had a couple of friends in college that had PlayStations and we would spend hours battling each other in football (Madden or GameDay) or basketball (NBA Live or March Madness) games so I became very accustomed to the style of play and 3D graphics of the PlayStation sports titles. As a direct competitor to EA’s Madden franchise and then later, Sega’s 2K franchise, 989 Sports created the GameDay franchise exclusively for the PlayStation. In retrospect, I know that the GameDay series wasn’t the pinnacle of sports simulation football as the Madden and 2K series eventually outshone GameDay on the PS2 but for PS, GameDay was where it was at. I had played earlier iterations but the first GameDay title I bought was GameDay 2000. I spent many hours with this game and it’s follow-up, GameDay 2001 and enjoyed both. Using the same basic engine as GameDay, 989 Sports created a college football version titled NCAA GameBreaker. The game featured tons of college football schools and season/career modes just like GameDay. I never got tired of playing multiple seasons with my favorite professional and college teams, the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers. NCAA GameBreaker 2001 even featured Heisman Trophy winning Badger running back Ron Dayne on the cover so I was sold on this version simply due to that fact.
After football, basketball was my second favorite sport to simulate through video games and with EA Sport’s NBA Live franchise being a popular 16 bit title, I definitely wanted to give it a try on the 32 bit PlayStation. While I had some fun with NBA Live 2001, the controls weren’t as easy for me to master like they were on the SNES. Add to the fact that this was one of the last games I bought for my PS before getting a PS2 so I would be upgrading the Live franchise shortly after and there would be no need to continue playing a last gen sports title. I am a huge college basketball fan, much more so than the NBA, so EA’s March Madness franchise was right up my alley. I have two versions, the ’98 and 2000 March Madness titles and the 2000 version is the game I spent the most time with. I spent hours and hours taking my Badgers through a regular season and into the NCAA tournament, ultimately winning a national championship with them. In 2000, this was a foreign concept to any Badger fan as the school’s basketball program was just starting to turn the corner into a consistent winner at that point.
Overall, the late 90’s sports titles for the PlayStation did a good job of transitioning from 2D to 3D. Today they look blocky with choppy animations but that didn’t detract from the fun at the time. 3D graphics were the hot new thing and these titles offered something that the 2D sprites on the SNES and Genesis could not. I remember simply being amazed at how lifelike the players looked at the time which seems comical now in 2017. I don’t remember any of these games being particularly awful and all of them served a purpose for a sports loving video gamer.
Currently in my collection:
NBA Live 2001 – game, manual, case
NCAA GameBreaker 2001 – game, manual, case
NCAA March Madness ’98 – game, manual, case
NCAA March Madness 2000 – game, manual, case
NFL GameDay 2000 – game, manual, case
NFL GameDay 2001 – game, manual, case