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Series: The Gear

The greatest internet sports games of all time

Your surefire route to a lie-in every morning

Greatest internet games

It's snooker. With explosions. Photograph: Public domain

You get bored at work, we get bored at work; the difference is, we don't get sacked for playing these games. Not yet, anyway.

Collected below are some of our favourite games on t'internet, so get stuck in and putt, kick, or skate your way to the JobCentre.

If you know something we don't, send a link to your favourite online (sports) game headlined The greatest games ever ... to sports.editor@guardianunlimited.co.uk (with a few lines telling us why it's so good) and we'll add them to our list - vigorous quality control guaranteed, reader.

Our latest finds

Basketball: Not got the required inches to be a master of the hoops? Well, now you don't need to. This little gem of a game tests your prowess at judging height and distance and gives you a new area of the court to shoot from with every shot you take. You can also see how you rank against other work-shy competitors around the globe. Simple and very addictive. P45 rating ***

Zombie Football: Hot on the heels of the popular Zombe Cricket comes its footballing brother. There's a little more to it - angles and movement - and you can pick your Premier League side. Frighteningly good.

RBS Drop Kick: Just in time for the Six Nations. Watch for the scrum half's signal, catch his pass and ping the ball between the posts. Not as easy as it sounds. P45 rating **

The Hand of Henry: This game is all in French but it's easy enough to work out how to 'jouer'. The graphics are basic but it's fun to play. My score: France 31-1 Ireland. Pretty handy.
P45 rating **

And the full catalogue...

CRICKET

Ashes Desktop Challenge: Not a million miles away from the tabletop childhood game of yore Test Match Cricket. Addictive but ultimately quite frustrating, much like the Ashes then.
P45 rating ****

Test Catch Cricket: Pretty tricky to get the hang of, then hours of fun. And rather addictive, if only for the rare pleasure of taking a one-handed catch at full-stretch. And then keeping the mouse moving for added flamboyance.
P45 rating: ***

Little Master Cricket: One of our favourites. Ever. The very best internet games share the same characteristics - they're simple and they're fiendishley addictive. We're grateful to Mark Jones for suggesting this little beauty. "Try to beat my high score of 366," he says, "either in a Pietersen like smashathon, or in an Boycott-type forward defensive inspired resolute innings." Our best? A hard-hitting 107 after 45 minutes determined effort.
P45 rating: ****

Battrick: "The Barmy Army is all over the game," so 'Shailes' tells us. Manage a cricket team against others from across the globe in First Class, 50- and 20-over competitions, as well as buying, selling, and ground-developing. Like the football version, Hat-trick, which you can find below, you've got to be in for the long haul on this one.
P45 Rating ****

Stick Cricket: Takes a while to get the knack of, but worth the effort for the first time you knock Dennis Lillee out of the ground.
P45 rating: ****

Slog Cricket: You are the bat! Pretty simple. Until it gets quite hard.
P45 rating: ***

Ashes2Ashes zombie cricket: This game has entertaining graphics as Ricky Ponting-lookalike zombies limp towards the batsman whenever he fails to crack a six. But the dimensions are not quite right, making it really tricky to judge when to hit the ball. Or maybe we're just bad at cricket.
P45 rating ***

FOOTBALL

Gaelic Football Challenge: Take on a quick seven-a-side game, or register for the All-Ireland Championship mode for a more immersive experience. Shades of Sensible Soccer give this decent playability, though you may need some serious interest in Gaelic Football to get the most out of it.
P45 rating ***

Jumpers for Goalposts: Start from the bottom and work your way up, gaining contracts, international honours and, most importantly, girls along the way. Surprisingly addictive for an abstract football-based RPG.
P45 Rating ****

Goal Street: Have you ever tried to breakdance and strike a ball at the same time? Get down with a load of no good punk kids in this street football game that frankly makes it all a bit too easy.
P45 Rating ***

Bumperball: "It's football, but in bumper cars, on an ice rink," writes Nathan Jones. "What is there not to love?" Erm ...
P45 rating: ***

Football Agent: Buy! Sell! Be the Mr 10% and rake in enough cash to buy a mansion. Tough, but in a good way
P45 rating: ****

Roby Baggio's Free-Kick Game: An old classic. We've found the trick is swinging the ball in Bolton-style for the onrushing centre-forward, rather than going for spectacular Baggioesque finishes.
P45 rating: ***

Super Soccer: Finally a football game which doesn't involve posing as a faded star playing keepy-uppy. Sadly, despite reading the instructions three times, we're rubbish at it. Hours must be spent perfecting our skills, clearly.
P45 rating: ***

Hat-trick: This is a slow burner - register your team, develop your youth squad, make transfers, all in aid of winning the 16 week league. Could cut your working day by hours.
P45 rating: ****

Volley Challenge 07/08: Pick your team, play a season, and make your striker hump the ball over the crossbar. Over and over again.
P45 rating: ***

Free-kick Fusion: As suggested by Zach Parrott: "This game ruined my summer job during WC 2006. It's amazing because you compulsively seek a higher and higher score. You're only inches away from the next level each time!"
P45 rating: **

RUGBY

Flick n Kick rugby: A peculiar little game, this is a combination of digital Subbuteo and rugby. Of course, it's so obvious. Pick up points for avoiding tackles, collecting power-ups (if you're playing Wales you can turn into a dragon, no less), and of course scoring tries and conversions. Won't get you the sack, but will amuse for a few minutes.
P45 rating: **

Game of 3 Halves: A kind of Sensible Rugby, but with three of your fellas taking on an entire team of opposition. And a streaker. And a sheep.
P45 rating: ***

GOLF

Lumix World Golf: Travel the world, see the sights ... play crazy golf. Negotiate courses based around Easter Island, Sydney harbour, and the Big Apple, among others, all with just your putter and a keen appreciation of angles.
P45 rating: ****

Office Minigolf: "That's the game that you really play in the office - for sure after your colleagues have gone," chuckles someone called simply 'Joe', before adding: "nice dice". We're not sure what he means but this is a quirky, very playable effort.
P45 rating: ***

Cat with a bow golf: Ah, golf. Funny trousers, silly terminology and a cat firing itself at a target with a bow and arrow. A good walk ruined.
P45 rating: ****

Golf Drive: Apparently it's a "relaxing game of golf the prehistoric way". Very tricky, but very nice graphics and takes a bit of thought.
P45 rating: ****

Mini Putt 2: The graphics on this aren't as good as Electrotank, but the gameplay is better. We suggest organising an office championship (our best score is 33, by the way)
P45 rating: *****

Crazy Golf: See if you can resist the temptation to give it a whack and hope for the best.
P45 rating: ***

Driving Mad: Driving in the Tiger Woods sense, not Kimi Raikkonen, this is another game which sets you simple targets and even tells you you're great when you're not [like us]. Bonus points for taking down the odd pigeon, too.
P45 rating: ***

Pandaf Golf: Slightly insane, very annoying sound effects, but rather addictive all the same. "This one is a definite candidate for rapid P45 delivery. Once you have finished the 100 or so levels you can make up your own layouts!" squeals Mark Bermingham, probably clapping his hands, too.
P45 rating: ****

Line Golfer: As much Tony Hart as it is Tony Jacklin, you can design your own course using virtual crayons (the dafter and more complex the better), set your own par, play other people's courses and – you never know – you might even make the leader board. It's unlikely though. Courses designed in the shape of appendages will be frowned upon.
P45 Rating ***

World Golf Tour: Very impressive graphics for a free online game and pretty playable too. "This one cost me a pay rise last year," writes Neil McCallum. "A quick nine without the boss noticing is as much a challenge as the game itself."
P45 rating: ****

Galactic Gravity Golf: Based on the admittedly flimsy premise that golf in space would be made more difficult by planets' gravitation pull it proves fiendishly addictive if a little unrealistic.
P45 rating ***

Tiger Woods Outrun: Imagine you're a golfer being chased by a golf club-wielding blonde and you must avoid a series of obstacles including trees and fire hydrants. It would never happen in the real world, of course, but it's fun to pretend. P45 rating ***

TENNIS

Table Tennis: Rob Bentham reckons "it's really addictive, and sounds great as well". We reckon it might be a little infuriating.
P45 rating: If self-confessed temp Rob is anything to go by, ****

Tennis Ace: "I think this is the best tennis game - it has a practice option and three levels of difficulty too. Nice umpiring too!" says Bryan Coleman. Be warned, you'll be a lot better in training than in the match ...
P45 rating: ***

Rong: It's ping-pong Jim, but not as we know it. Rather ridiculously addictive
P45 rating: *****

The Optus tennis challenge: Keepy-uppy with a tennis ball, essentially - but pity the poor souls with time enough on their hands to notch up high scores of close to 2000.
P45 rating: ***

BOWLING

League Bowling: Enjoyably retro.
P45 rating: ***

Super Bowling: Ego-boostingly simple to play. Get that swerve on
P45 rating: ****

WINTER SPORTS

Horace goes skiing: Not big or particularly clever, but it's a trip down memory lane for anyone who once owned a ZX81.
P45 rating **

Snowboarding: We would like to say this game is, like, totally rad dude. But we've no idea how to retain control.
P45 rating: ***

PUB SPORTS

English Pub Pool
Cracking physics, plenty of options so you can keep the rules exactly as you have them when at the pub, and includes the tear-inducing moment as you realise you've accidentally knocked in the black. All that, and opponents with low rent names.
P45 rating ****

Let's Play Darts: Mark Ingle suggests this little beauty from Holland. "The best bit (other than hitting multiple 180s) is the sound effects, delivered by a genuine dart scorer legend," says Mark. There's also a daily Top 100 score board. Our best? 22.2sec. Oh yeah.
P45 rating: ****

Lightning Break: Easy controls, simple objectives, endlessly entertaining.
P45 rating: ****

First2zero virtual darts: Pick an overweight, cartoon dartsmith and toss your 'arras at the treble 20, simple. The only game that involves less effort than real darts.
P45 rating: ***

Blast Billiards: Ian Gale calls this "a fiendishly addictive way to waste an hour or three at work." Even though we're shamefully useless at this game, we're inclined to agree. And they've added side spin options in the later versions, for anyone who just needs more control
P45 rating: *****

AMERICAN SPORTS

Candystand Baseball: Takes a few innings to get used to the controls, particularly when you are the fielding team. But it's worth the 10 minutes of head-scratching and running in the wrong direction when you do get the hang of it. Surprisingly representative, very playable, and includes some nice details, such as the pitcher mocking you when you swing and miss. Goodbye Mr Spalding and other such hackneyed phrases.
P45 rating: ****

Three point shootout: Another in the 'simple but addictive' category. Attempt three point shots from all around the basketball court with nothing more than a swish of your mouse, just like they do in the NBA's All-Star weekend. Well, kind of. It's easy to learn, but tough to master. Once you get in the zone you'll be hitting nothing but net, and inner monologuing 'LeBron from way downtown', in a rather pathetic way.
P45 rating ***

Pinch Hitter 2: Take a strange large-headed boy from hitting balls in his backyard to the major league. With hour upon hour of practice of course.
P45 rating: ***

Trick hoops challenge: This one is all about showing off with the most outrageous attempts at the basket, if you can get it in off the wall you are far better than us.
P45 rating: ***

Baseball: Badda-badda…..Shwiiiiiiiiiiiing…..badda-badda. It's the bottom of the ninth, you need two runs for victory and there's a gum-chewing schmuck on the pitching mound with some curve-balls up his sleeve. Swing for the sweet-spot.
P45 Rating ****

HORSES AND DOGS

Steeplechase Challenge: There's something deeply retro about this one. The secret is in judicious use of the whip and perfect timing in the jump.
P45 rating *** (***** if your betting syndicate is rumbled)

Greyhound Racer Rampage: Greyhound training crossed with Guitar Hero doesn't sound the most thrilling combination, but the pride we felt when our dog - Carl - finally crossed the finish line first ... well, it was emotional, put it that way. Quirky, clever and made with a bit of love.
P45 rating ***

MOTOR SPORTS

Stick Rally X: Despite the name, this very playable top-down rally romp is about as un-'sticky' as they get. Like a more sober version of Micro Machines, you get to whizz around various dirt tracks, unlocking new circuits and cars along the way. Want to go faster? Then hit that nitro boost button, baby!
P45 rating: ***

Stunt Dirt Bike: A mix of impressive acceleration and chronic problems with staying vertical make this the Didier Drogba of internet sports games. Much more popular around the office though.
P45 rating: ****

Drag Racing: Sadly, no 15st blokes hotfooting it on heels here. But sneaking a win on the line in a Honda Civic is enjoyment enough.
P45 rating: ***

OLD SCHOOL
Sidering knockout: A old style beat 'em up with energy bars and combo moves. Take your humble slugger up through ranks and finally earn a title fight.
P45 rating: ***

Denise Lewis Heptathlon: While it is not the most covert operation (bashing the B and N keys for all your worth) and is likely to cause debilitating finger cramps, this old style arcade game is maddeningly addictive.
P45: *****

3-D Pong: Just when you thought pong couldn't get any better, they go and make it 3D. So hard you will inevitably spend hours of company time playing it.
P45 rating: ****

ATHLETICS

Olympix Summer Games: Suffering from Beijing withdrawal symptoms? Well, fear not. Here you can try your hand at the 100m, the 110m hurdles, the javelin and the long jump. It's pretty straightforward, rather addictive, suitable time-consuming and you can't fare any worse than GB's track and field athletes.
P45 rating: **

QWOP Athletics: From the people who brought you Little Master cricket, here's a game in which you control an athletes calves and thighs. Anyone who can do more than spasm and fall over deserves some sort of prize.
P45 rating: **

Janey Thomson's marathon: This is a finger-clicking nightmare of a game that is likely to reduce your life expectancy. It was removed from arcades after its release in 1984 because kids found it too tiring. You have been warned ...
P45 rating **

WATER SPORTS

Kayak King: "Bad title pun aside, this canoe game is pretty damn addictive," says Jack Iles. We enjoyed the first level. Then found it infuriatingly difficult.
P45 rating: **

CYCLING

King of the Road: This finger-bashing effort tries to recreate the Tour de France. Its replete with photographers and dogs to halt your progress and is reminiscent of Daley Thompson's Decathlon.
P45 rating ****

MISCELLANEOUS

OK, so these are not strictly sports. But they should be.

Ball Blitz: Use your balls to knock the other guys balls out of the ring. It's life in flash game format.
P45 rating: ***

Crash Test Dummy Olympics: There's not much to these events, but getting them right is infuriatingly tough. A guaranteed time-waster.
P45 rating: ***

Escapa: This has got office tournament written all over it. You are a red square trying to escape the accelerating wrath of some blue squares. Get anywhere near 20 and you're doing well. 19.966 since you ask.
P45 rating: ***

Yeti Sports: All the Pingu smacking fun you can handle, on one site. Repetitive, but strangely pleasurable.
P45 rating: ***

Home Run: Admittedly, this isn't strictly a sports game but it can technically be shoehorned into the Pub Sports category. Stop yourself from keeling over as you stagger home after a beer too many. Mindlessly simple and therefore highly amusing. Bet you can't beat 200m.
P45 rating: ***


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