You may notice that I don’t go out of my way to review every sports game released! That’s because I go out of my way to review every other game. See, as your stereotypical dweeb kid, sports were never especially my thing, so I don’t really have the basic knowledge necessary to say much about sports video games. It would be like a games journalist writing about Cuphe…nah, that’s a low blow.
Case in point: I’m not going to claim to know the first thing about football. That would be a lie. I’ve got the absolute basics down: four downs, get a certain distance up the field to gain a new set of downs, ideally you want to get the ball into the enemy’s end zone to score but if you can’t do that within four downs the other team gets the ball. There you go, the sum total of my football knowledge. Here at Popzara, ESPN we are not. This isn’t just football, though – this is the Mutant Football League!
That’s Mutant Football League, or MFL, not Mutant League Football, which was the classic version of this concept released on 16-bit consoles years ago. Rather than millionaire players, the Mutant Football League is full of millionaire monsters who would just love to tear each other to shreds. That means that your usual gridiron strategy now needs to incorporate a little unnecessary roughness, since it’s not so unnecessary here; if you lose too many players you’re going to be in trouble. Even the field is out to get you; watch out for the land mines.
You’ve got season and playoff modes, some exhibition options and online play to choose from, but it all boils down to picking a team and getting to work slamming and jamming…er, wait, that’s that other sport. Basic gameplay should feel familiar to anyone who’s played video game football in the past couple decades or so, and in particular it recalls the classic Genesis and Super Nintendo football games as you’d expect from a spiritual successor to the original Mutant League Football. Even a complete pigskin imbecile like myself was able to get a handle on what’s going on fairly quickly, though that doesn’t mean you’ll do especially well without practice – the additional Dirty Tricks incorporated throughout Mutant Football league ensure that you’ll need a few games to really grasp how things work.
Mutant Football League skimps somewhat on the polish and ends up with a fair amount of that unique indie jank. Everything works, but the game probably could have used a second or third pass so it all “feels” right. Still, that’s not the end of the world, and for what it’s worth the game looks, runs and sounds like it should given how it’s selling itself.
As mentioned, the seemingly simplified take on football on offer here makes Mutant Football League a little more palatable to those of us who don’t usually play sports games. Naturally, if you’ve got fond memories of the Genesis original, then Mutant Football League ought to scratch the same itch. Maybe the real NFL could take something away from this game, come to think of it, I know I’d probably pay a little more attention to sports if they were this, uh, unique!