Just seven games in and it’s back to sports for the third time. This time it’s football, yes, good ole American football. Take that 90 Minutes European Prime Goal. Even with a sport I’m more familiar with, there was no excitement brewing for this game. Every football game I’ve ever played has played out relatively the same. The options are identical, pick a play from a sketch and then either pass or press a button to choose a receiver. I had no doubts this game was going to be a Madden clone. If a clone is what this aimed to be, it was definitely in the reject batch.
To start off, if you were looking to play as your favorite team you can forget it. Although you may get a hint of the team they were trying to represent, each team is like a sad generic cereal. I went with NY, being as it is my home state, and since the helmet is green I suppose it’s the Jets. It should go without saying that the players are generic as well, even to the point where they all appear to be the same number. With all the elevens, it’s what I imagine a peewee team full of Phil Simms fanatics would look like if duplicate jerseys were allowed. The players don’t have faces, which I suppose is a bit more forgivable being released multiple years before the aforementioned soccer game. Likewise any pictures including the stands looks like a Magic Eye with all the repetition.
Graphics aside, the majority of the game handles pretty much like any other SNES football game could be expected to. It’s hard to critique a game on mechanics when there is little more than picking a play and then picking a receiver. The only time where a new mechanic will come into play is with power plays. Every half you have the ability to throw and run using a different setup. The way it works is that if you call a power play, the screen fades after the snap and when the running back or receiver gets the ball, you repeatedly tap your A button to outrun the defense. Likewise if you are playing defense you have to repeatedly tap the button to catch the opposing player. As long as you don’t horribly fail, this usually leads to substantial gains and if used properly can lead to some serious scoring. Ideally I saved this for places where I needed a first down, or was within a reasonable distance from the end zone. The computer seemed to have the equivalent button mashing power of a morse code operator on the titanic. This meant I wasn’t going to be getting from end zone to end zone and it also meant that if they called a power play I’d gain more by picking my nose than breaking my digits on the controller. This frustrating aspect aside, the advantage is still to the player. Used at the right time, you can turn would be punts and field goals into touch downs. In a similar fashion to the thrice mentioned soccer game, you start caring less that the PC is scoring off bogus power plays because you are simply overwhelming them.
One last point that can’t go unmentioned is the games way to congratulate or admonish you after each and every play. There is a short graphic of fans that either cheers or boos whether you complete a pass or fail respectively. Every. Single. Time. To add insult to injury the image looks like it was saved repeatedly as a jpeg at increasingly worse resolution. Then the amorphous blobs in this abomination of a clip start headbanging their misshapen, oddly colored heads like a crowd in a Disturbed concert. It goes from interesting to frustrating to hilarious. By the end of the season you can’t help but join in the headbanging as you laugh like the deranged person you’ve become.
I used the same pass and run patterns through almost the entire game, as well as punts and field goals as needed. It’s possible that the computer adapted after I kept using pass too frequently, but I wasn’t sure if that was true or just me getting frustrated after some failed attempts. Eventually you develop a rhythm with the power plays so that each match is fairly simple. You can reset during the game to avoid losing, but it really won’t be necessary. Towards the end, I played for the AC East championship and then went to the Super Bowl. I assume it’s the Super Bowl, but the final screen just said I was the Super Champion. Maybe this was slang for the Super Bowl Champion back in the 90’s but I oddly don’t recall that. At this point, the whole game just feels so cheesy that you can’t help but laugh.
Overall it just isn’t worth picking up. There are multiple football games for the SNES including a slew of Madden’s, and there just isn’t anything to distinguish this other than the lack of real teams. The attempt to add a new mechanic is commendable but is so poorly balanced that it feels like a last ditch effort to keep the game from being scrapped by Data East. There is no replay value since there is no attachment to any team or any player. The only reason I would toss this back on the emulator would be to get a .gif of the incomplete pass animation and set it to Down With The Sickness.