The plethora of Mega Drive sports games is the result of a tactic by Sega to steal market share from the then-dominant NES by catering towards sports game fans, who had a smaller selection of games available to them. Sega of Japan and (in most cases) Sega of Europe merely showed off generic sports games with various team licenses that didn't need to have any extra padding to show early on the difference between the two systems. However, Sega of America partnered with American sports celebrities, renaming many of the titles: Super Real Basketball became Pat Riley Basketball, Naomichi Ozaki no Super Masters became Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf, Final Blow became James 'Buster' Douglas Knockout Boxing, GrandSlam: The Tennis Tournament became Jennifer Capriati Tennis, and Super League became Tommy Lasorda Baseball. These, plus the unchanged Joe Montana Football and Mario Lemieux Hockey, made the games appeal directly to American sports fans. With the meteoric rise of Electronic Arts' John Madden Football and the use of licensed teams from American sports leagues Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League, the modern era of sports game was ushered into homes.
The sports-emphasis strategy would re-emerge during the Sega Dreamcast's lifespan, with critically-acclaimed titles being produced by Visual Concepts, and Sports Design R&D Dept. and Sports Interactive continue the tradition today with games such as Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games and the Football Manager series.
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