Your casual sports fan and weekend video gamer typically operates under the assumption that their mad FIFA skills (cultivated on the couch) could of course be replicated down at the local soccer field -- that is if they ever bothered to put down the chips and actually walk there.

However, it's a bit harder to make the leap from the gaming world to reality when you're watching a saucer-eyed, bleached-haired maniac flip and spin off a massive backcountry booter with a bit of plastic stuck to his feet. 

Thanks to video games though, it's never really mattered that you have the real world coordination of a baby deer. Action sports found their perfect home in the virtual playground, and it's no surprise that the better ones went on to become some of the biggest-selling games of all time. 

These selections, spanning gaming's glorious history, represent our best of the best.


1. Horace Goes Skiing (1982)

The SSX of the '80s, if you like (see below). Three decades ago this was cutting-edge digital entertainment. Guide fatso Horace across a busy road Frogger-style, grab the skis and then plunge majestically down what we were assured was a slope.


2. Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's Super Off Road (1989)

If you went in an arcade in the early '90s, chances are you'd have thrust a coin or two into the slot of this four-player, single-screen frenzy. Ported to loads of home formats, none ever matched the ridiculously OTT action of the coin-op, with its wheels that spun 360-degrees and surprisingly precise controls. 


3. California Games (1987)

Legendary studio Epyx's surfer-dude Olympics spin-off inspired a million high-score attempts. Featuring events like surfing, footbag, skateboarding and BMX, it made its name on C64 before wiping out on all major platforms. The stunning (for the time) Atari Lynx port was our fave.


4. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (2000)

Arguably the greatest extreme sports series of the pre-PlayStation 3 era, the original was a revolution but its sequel perfected the formula, making it one of the highest-rated games in history. Alas, Hawk's videogame fall has been as spectacular as his rise, with recent entries Ride and Shred jeered into arthritic obscurity.


5. SSX (2000)

Soaring into the new millennium came EA's bold, brash and brilliant mountain-top masterpiece. Adored by critics and gamers for its super-charged silliness and impossible stunts. After a five-year hiatus, the series is back with a bang next year.


6. Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding (2001)

Launching with the original Xbox, Amped was a visual marvel with breathtaking "look at the grafix!" views that stretched for virtual miles. A sober, more serious rival to EA's SSX, alongside Halo it helped Microsoft's desperate search for gaming cred. Which turned out quite well in the end, to be fair.


7. Skate (2007)

With the Hawk empire beginning to crumble, EA waded in and revolutionized the genre all over again. Out went the button-based combo tricks of Tony and in came a more natural system built around the analog sticks. It was a bastard to learn, but its slick moves left the once-mighty Hawk looking like a gaming OAP.


8. iStunt 2 (iPhone – 69p)

Tricking its way along the App avalanche, iStunt is what iPhone does best: horribly addictive, quick-fix gaming, with unexpectedly subtle controls leading to enormously satisfying touch gameplay. All for the price of a pint of milk.


9. Jet Set Radio (2000)

This Dreamcast classic kick-started the cel-shading craze in video games. Sega's achingly cool, urban arcade title left gamers slack-jawed with its better-than-Disney looks and delighted with its eclectic soundtrack and graffiti-spraying Asbo action. 


10. DiRT 3 (2011)

The latest in a long and illustrious line of racers stretching back to the original Colin McRae Rally. This is rally driving at its most spectacular, thrilling and subtle. Thanks to the help of smiling car assassin Ken Block, the new gymkhana mode gave gamers an adventure playground of awesome. 

Got some games in mind you didn't see on this list? Add 'em in the comments below...

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