Review by Retro

"It's terribly dated, but it will always be fun"

When someone who hasn't ever played this game sees it for the first time, they might say to themselves, ''What in the world is this?'' It's true, Football for the Atari 2600 doesn't have good graphics at all, but looks can be deceiving. Me and my older brothers grew up playing the Atari 2600 and there is not any game that we've played more for the system than Football, except for maybe Combat.

I remember one of my brothers used to beat me every single time at this game up to when I was about 10. Just about every time we played it, he would beat me one hundred something to zero. I think he got over two hundred points against me once or twice. Back in those days, if I was stupendously lucky, I might would be able to get a few points posted on my side of the scoreboard. However, once I got to be older than 10, the track record became somewhat reversed and I started winning some of them. These days, we're about even. I win about half of them and he wins about half of them.

Football's gameplay is very simple and it's not much like that of a real football game at all. While playing Football for the Atari 2600, you won't see any complex plays, no blitzes or other famous plays to pick from, and not even any spin moves or flips into the end zone, but it is loads of fun nonetheless.

There are five players on each team. Before each play, you and your opponent both get to choose whether to make your players spread out, or stay in a close-knit pack. Whether you're currently playing on offense or defense, you will have to do this right before each play.

On offense, the quarterback gets the ball every time to begin with. You can make the quarterback run with the ball, pass it to one of the other players, or punt the ball. On defense, you have to control the whole group of your frontline (at the same time) in order to try and tackle the opposing player that has the ball, or if you're lucky, intercept the ball. On both offense and defense, there is a player on your team who stays around the edge and runs real slow. But, if you hold down the button on your joystick, you'll go from controlling four guys at once, to just controlling that one player. I know that sounds crazy, but it isn't. This solo player is by far, the fastest on your team when you hold down the joystick button. Therefore, if you see that you can't possibly catch up to the opposing player that has the ball and is quickly getting closer and closer to a touchdown, this is the player that you should go with.

The graphics in Football are extremely basic, but then again what do you expect from a game made in 1978? The football players look sort of like big aliens from another planet, the football is just a small square, and the field is small, vertical, and it just consists of a couple of shades of green.

Like almost all of the Atari 2600 games I know of, the control is as simple as possible. All you have to do in this game is maneuver your players around the field and press the button whenever you want to pass, punt, or control your fastest player.

The sound will sound lame if you haven't ever heard it before, but it gets the job done well enough. The sounds aren't hard on the ears or especially good in any sense, but you'll at least know when someone intercepts a pass, when someone gets a 2-point conversion, when someone gets a touchdown, or when anything else happens because it has a different sound for each separate occurrance. There is also a basic sound for when a play is going on, and you won't mistake it for anything other than the players rumbling around. It sounds sort of like you're a little too close to a muffled fan.

In Football, you won't see any jumping to catch a flying pass, dances in the endzone, or even any referees. This is as basic as a football video game can possibly get. There also isn't but one field and there are not any weather conditions. An arrow at the top of the screen always shows who has possession of the ball at all times. There are not any quarters of play, just 5 minutes for the whole game. When the five minutes run out on the clock, the game of Football will be over. Whoever has the highest score at the end of the game, has the right to show his/her skills in trash talking.

This might sound corny, but I've never been crazy about sports video games except for a few of them, and this game, Football for the Atari 2600, is the only football video game that I've ever liked and probably ever will like. Although it's as simple and as basic as a football game can get, I've always enjoyed playing it a lot. You don't have a choice but to play a two-player game because it doesn't have a one-player game included. In my opinion, that's the only bad thing about Football. When you're by yourself and you don't have anybody over at a certain time to compete against, it would've been nice to have a computer opponent in Football.

By the way, there is one way that this game was sort of revolutionary for the time. There is always a thin line on the screen that lets you know how far it is until you get a first down. They didn't even have that on televised football games until about two years ago!

GRAPHICS – As I said, they are about as basic as you can possibly get, so don't expect ANYTHING that stands out or that is extravagant. Even though they are basic, the graphics aren't really ugly or anything; they're good enough in my opinion.

SOUND - Again, there is nothing spectacular, but they get the job done well enough. From the classic sound of getting the ball intercepted, to the muffled sound of getting tackled, Football's sounds are memorable. In typical Atari 2600 fashion, there is not a bit of music in the game.

CONTROL – The controls are responsive and easy to master. Unless your joystick is aging and is about to break, you shouldn't have any problems controlling the game of Football.

REPLAY VALUE - If you have an Atari 2600, you'll really like playing against somebody else in this game, even if you don't like football video games. Me and my older brothers have been playing this game for almost twenty years, and it still hasn't ceased to be fun!

OVERALL - I'm going to give this game an 8 overall because I have a lot of fond memories of it and it's still fun to play these days. That goes to show that graphics and sound are not what makes a video game. It's the fun factor along with the replay value that really counts. At least in my opinion, that's what is most important.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/05/01, Updated 05/20/02


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