This isn’t so much a Top Five Football Games list as it is more of a progression of my football gaming experience. I mentioned earlier that football games have evolved over the years. So I’ve listed five games that have had an impact on my football gaming experience.
#5 Mattel Handheld Football 2 – The first in the list is the game I played at night before I had a Game Boy. Not much to see here. I never was able to reconcile the total unfairness of the first iterations of video football games – there was always one more offensive player than defensive. In the case of the Mattel Handheld game, it was three red dashes versus four other red dashes. I don’t remember much about the game play here but I don’t remember anything about spin moves or stiff arms. Just those red dashes.
#4 Super Challenge Football (Atari 2600) – Ahh, my first console football game – Super Challenge Football. Anyone who’s played this game knows exactly why I loved it – if you missed a tackle, no big deal! Just run to the left, you’ll pop out on the right side, perfectly positioned to make a play. As you can see from the screen shots, about twenty yards fit on the screen at the time. So when you made it to one end of the screen, you popped out on the other side. No side scrolling here. Again, I don’t remember too much about the game play, but I do remember being a sweet safety. Nobody got through more than one screen against me!
#3 Tecmo Bowl (NES) – Many will say Tecmo Super Bowl was the best NES football game, possibly the best football game of the 20th century, but Tecmo Bowl is my choice for #3. Of course, it had its quirks, like unstoppable players including Lawrence Taylor, but it was a great game. It still didn’t have a full team of eleven players, but it was getting close. I had a friend who actually keep track of stats between games (Super Tecmo Bowl did this) and he even chose an MVP for each of his seasons. I didn’t get that into it, but we sure played the heck out of that game.
#2 John Madden Football (PC) – I couldn’t make a list with out paying homage to the game that brought football video games to the life. I had John Madden Football for the PC almost fifteen years ago. The thing I remember most about this version was being able to draw up plays on a chalk board, with X’s and O’s. You could then simulate the plays and watch them real-time. I remember drawing up plays that had the whole offensive line pulling to block on a sweep. As I remember, that play didn’t work too well.
#1 NCAA 2004/5 (Gamecube) – Of course, this game is number one on my list. I am a HUGE college football fan, and NCAA 2004/5 is my number one game. Madden 2005 or ESPN NFL 2K5 might have better graphics, more recognizable stars and more all around polish, but for my money, it doesn’t get any better than Dynasty Mode in NCAA. The graphics are great, but the dynasty mode is so much more than the game play. It’s about running a high impact college program. It’s training players, recruiting them and getting them to stay out of trouble (discipline was added to 2005). I was a bit disappointed with 2005’s enhancements but it is still a fabulous game with a great replay upside.