Football games forgotten by time


It’s not like EA’s stopping anyone from making football games without the NFL license, although that’s pretty much been the case ever since. And the brave few that tried to push forward without those three magic letters saw results far too disastrous to be described in a sports metaphor.

Great Football | 1987

Since Nintendo was considerably more focused on the kiddies, you could say Sega really botched the opportunity to appeal to an older audience with the limp-dick performance of its Great Sports banner.

Above: The patriotism’s so bright, you gotta wear shades

How could it possibly succeed? The name alone implies the quality fell somewhere below “Excellent,” Exceptional,” and most importantly for the time, “Super.” Plus, the developers had so little faith in their own AI they had to comp the CPU controlled team points at the start of every game just to make it interesting.

NES Play Action Football | 1992

Nintendo may have abandoned first party footballery today, but they back in the NES days they hit the gridiron running. NES Play Action Football opted for a isometric view of the field so as to give players the illusion of 3D. At least it distinguishes the final product from the zillion or so other football games available on the platform.

Above: Oh yes, Play Action Football’s discarded brilliance even got its own Nintendo Power cover to go along with the in-game appearance by forgotten mascot, Nester

Obviously, hopes were high for NES PAF, as it was as heavily touted as flagship titles were during the launch of the NES Four Score Satellite thingy, Nintendo’s ill-fated attempt at cramming two extra players into a single game. But hey, it TALKED a little! Again, back in the day that really meant something. Today we skip cutscenes!

Super Play Action Football | 1992

Super Play Action Football followed suit, albeit with unremarkable results that would ultimately end the franchise. However, if the game can be remembered for anything it’s the ability to play from high school into college, and on into the pros with licensed NFL teams. And you thought the Madden series had done everything.

Above: Nester’s cameo was out, Mario was in

Space Football: One on One | 1992

Above: Why did we even bring this up?

Okay, this would barely count as a football title, but the developers apparently fought tooth and nail to maintain the sport’s terminology, in spite of being essentially a game were two players squared off as sentient Air Hockey paddles. Sure, a single player per team used a hoverboard to push a ball into a “end zone” to score “touchdowns,” however the “space ball” was automatically fumbled every four seconds to keep things moving. And futuristic!

Above: “Touchback, For Great Justice!”

[And now I’ll step aside and let Brett Elston wax nostalgic about THE ONLY game in this article that deserves revisiting. Take it Brett]

Mutant League Football | 1993

The best way to teach people new things is to sneak the information into their minds without them knowing about it. So, even if you vehemently hated football as a child, there was a good chance the blood-soaked ogres and spiky aliens of Mutant League Football sucked you in and inadvertently taught you the sport’s many, many rules. While the core game was pure football, with audibles, hail marys and wholly ineffective running plays, the extra wrinkle of “supernatural freaks violently smashing the shit out of each other in space” made it seem cool, but in a nerd-appropriate way.

Above: Geek, jock, who cares – we just wanna play

Above: Plus, if you weren’t careful, you might accidentally learn some actual team names

To be honest, the blood and gore were the main selling points. If MLF were just monsters strictly adhering to the mile-long rulebook, it’d be just as boring as the real thing. Instead, each team has a few tricks up its collective sleeve, letting you throw dynamite at incoming opponents or change the ball into a bomb, just waiting for someone to intercept a pass.

Above: Watch the body parts fly

Mutant League Football sprang from EA, back when it was an unrestrained house of ideas. Its success led to the less exciting but equally bloody Mutant League Hockey, and even to the creation of a horrible, horrible animated series starring Bones Jackson. EA even got a bit ahead of itself with Mutant League, promising a Mutant League Basketball in the INTRO to Mutant League Hockey.

Sadly this idea, outside of NFL Blitz, hasn’t really been revisited. You’d think with EA now in complete control of the NFL license someone would try to do something similar, make a non-sports-gamer sports game that doesn’t require hours of legal negotiations. Then again, EA probably still owns the rights to this and could stand to rake in even more if they did it right themselves. Well, get it on it EA.

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  • CoktorBloktopus - August 16, 2010 5:34 p.m.

    Football is a Sport!!!!!!!
  • jackburnt - August 16, 2010 1:55 p.m.

    Why is Mutant League Football mentioned under "football games forgotten?" Obviously, it's not. You even mention that in the article! For me, my forgotten football game that holds a special place in my heart is John Elway's games. There's a glitch that allowed you to run so fast no one could catch you.
  • Redeater - August 16, 2010 2:04 a.m.

    @ TheBoz ....sigh. Grow up please. Why not compare rugby to UFC next?
  • TheBoz - August 15, 2010 11:53 p.m.

    What a girlie sport this is, who really cares. In essence this is rugby for girls, ie sissies with loads of padding on. Try a tough sport like rugby union where studs to the face is common and fists to any part of the body is part and parcel of the game. Eye gouging is frowned upon though, but does happen. Also for the life in me, FOOTball, what percetange of the game is the ball controlled by the feet? Not really a sport for grown men to play at all, leave it to the sissies and bowels of computer history.
  • UDNTNOME - August 15, 2010 3:28 p.m.

    I actualy own mutant football, but I lost my genesis
  • nighthawk205 - August 14, 2010 10:55 p.m.

    I absolutely LOVED the Mutant League games. I really wish they brought back the series, even if it's just a port onto XBLA or PSN.
  • gogo65uk - August 14, 2010 12:28 p.m.

    I'm not a football fan at all. But I really enjoyed adidas power soccer back in the ps1 days. Surprised that wasn't on this list.
  • philipshaw - August 14, 2010 11:10 a.m.

    I played some of these and I'm from the UK where our football is real football
  • AuthorityFigure - August 14, 2010 11:01 a.m.

    The best NFL game i've played on any 8/16-bit platform is Cyberball. Look it up and add it to the list please GR - I think it's worth the effort.
  • n00b - August 14, 2010 4:56 a.m.

    i just have to say that: america is the only country to call this sport football but nice article anyway
  • reaperman22 - August 14, 2010 2:08 a.m.

    i never got American football, i tried once or twice but couldn't get into it. the only football i like is Aussie rules. oh and i don't care what anyone says its called soccer, it has a name, use it
  • Longnuts - August 14, 2010 1:22 a.m.

    Mutant League Football was the absolute shit when I was a kid. What would also rule, is if it was redone on our current gen. I would buy that in a heartbeat. That game was so ridiculously fun.
  • GamesRadarTylerNagata - August 14, 2010 1:06 a.m.

    lol football
  • juicenpancakes - August 14, 2010 12:22 a.m.

    I played Troy Aikman NFL Football just the other day with my brother. Not advised. On a side note, you spelled Troy Aikman, "Troy Aikmen." This is about 50x better. I just can't get the image out of my head of a bunch of aching men.
  • BeerBaron - August 13, 2010 11:43 p.m.

    The earliest NFL licensed game that I remember was "NFL Football" for the Mattel Intellivision.
  • Ridgley - August 13, 2010 11:38 p.m.

    My dad was a football coach so of course I had two of these games against my will.
  • Onepersonwithnoopinion - August 13, 2010 11:09 p.m.

    I just noticed that MLF kinda sounds like milf.
  • Redeater - August 13, 2010 10:58 p.m.

    and I have to say it....... ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?????? damn you talkradar.
  • Redeater - August 13, 2010 10:57 p.m.

    Oh man, anything with Nestor in the pic will make me click on it no matter what!
  • shyfonzie - August 13, 2010 10:44 p.m.

    An article about football on GR? “I CAN’T BELIEVE IT”

Showing 1-20 of 24 comments

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