Are you ready for a game of FOOTBALL?!?!?!
I'm going to be 100% honest: I am supposedly failing as a male of the species. Why? Because I don't know a damn thing about football, except that you can get tasty hot dogs at the games. I'm just not into sports in general, probably because I'm too oaf-footed to be able to participate in them, and also because frankly, I just find them dull. So when I was asked to write a review on a football video game, I was putting it off for a long time. It's been about four months now since the request came to me. But I've put on a tough front (and a crusty football helmet) and decided to dive right into the game.
With the notion in mind that I know next-to-nothing about football, I started this game up, and after a not-surprisingly Americanized logo and the commencement of some rather upbeat music, I was treated to a listing of practically every player in the entire league, complete with their jersey number and their position on the field. (Hmmm... I'm starting to sound like a football coach already!) I pressed Start so that the painful listing that didn't seem to end would do just that. I chose to play as the team from Minnesota, because some of our greatest TV characters are from there: Brandon & Brenda Walsh from "Beverly Hills, 90210", as well as Rose Nylund from "The Golden Girls". All three are lovable, except for the second one. Plus nobody picks Minnesota. Anyway, I was pitted against the Chicago team (as selected by the CPU), and I was on my way.
'Twas the first quarter, and upon the green playing field, I was staring my enemies in the face! Then they booted me the ball, and I ran to catch it (which required no input on my part). But suddenly, I had to run with the ball! Why did they give it to me? Couldn't someone else take it? I could probably tackle someone or go get a soda for the coach or something! So I just started running like mad, 8-bit though I was. And dudes were getting tackled all over the place, so I tried to run around them. Then I was pummeled by several 300-pound monsters with solid steel groin cups that jabbed me in the ribs. I was then given an option of a variety of different plays, none of which I knew a damn thing about. I tried a few passes, but every single one of them failed miserably, resulting in me fracturing a spine (the one and only spine I had) on the field. I was also given the option to try a couple of runs -- I ended up running, alright! Right into an opposing athlete, that is! However, by the end of the first quarter, I had three points, while the other team had zero! That's good, right? If my memory serves me correctly, only in golf is a lower score preferable. Prove me wrong. Anyway, I ended up winning by a little bit, which is pretty good, considering that taking a strong interest in football is at the bottom of my list, next to getting a sex change and building a 60-foot-tall Betamax player in the backyard.
But the game seems to have strong merits gameplay-wise: I can run pretty well and dodge opposing players somewhat well (although I eventually get tackled, as I mentioned earlier with some dismay), and field kicking is pretty easy to perform as well (with the help of a power bar at the top of the screen that charges up). The AI is also very well-programmed here, giving you the challenge of a real game without being too difficult -- they won't all come after you; you have a vital chance at passing everyone. However, actually performing the passes or runs proved to be difficult for me; then again, I stink at sports games.
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The graphics for this game are very simple. Even though this is an NES game, it could definitely look better. Your players are a bit too blobby (and far too fuchsia-oriented). That being said, having all those characters on screen is probably brutal enough on the weak NES processor, so there's certainly reason behind the bland backdrop of the game. But the characters are detailed enough for the game's time to warrant a little bit of merit, so I'll give Tecmo some points for effort, at least. Still, the game could use some extra glitz and glamour -- like more activity from an unfortunately static crowd between quarters. Music and sound effects also serve their purpose. The music here is quite upbeat, and could likely cheer up even the most depressed of football jocks. The sound effects, on the other hand, are very simplistic chuffing noises, with the exception of a few voice samples in the game! I enjoy hearing the player shout repeatedly "Hut! Hut! Hut!" before passing me, the mighty quarterback, the ball. It's interesting how I could just let him keep on saying that while I go get a saucy beverage. Fun had all around.
But to be brutally honest, I should not be reviewing this game. It's not in me to play sports games. I don't personally own many sports games, aside from Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64 (but I am entertained by that one). Still, this game didn't leave me completely befuddled, so it's clearly not an absolutely awful game. If you have any idea what football is about, you might like this joyous archaic 8-bit representation of a nationally-praised sport, so you could give Tecmo Bowl a try. For everyone else, take the cartridge and give it a punt kick. (You can also buy this on the Wii's Virtual Console -- but don't give your Wii a punt kick.)