A History Of NFL Games: For The Players? - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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A History Of NFL Games: For The Players?

Christopher Morley looks back at the many varied NFL titles arriving in the arcades and on the 16 & 32 bit consoles of the '90s...

Having emerged from kick-off of our look at the NFL, at least from a gaming standpoint, we can now move into the second quarter!

Madden NFL '95 was the first entry in arguably the most popular series of American football games to carry with it the ringing endorsement of the NFLPA - the National Football League Players Association serving as the trade union of sorts for NFL players & serving them & their interests through collective bargaining since 1956.

What was going on in the league itself across those two seasons? The New York Giants beat the Chicago Bears 47-7 in the '56 championship game, while the Dallas Cowboys won the '95 Super Bowl with a 27-17 triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers. In doing so they rode off with a little piece of history as the first team to win three Vince Lombardi Trophies in four years!

That same year also saw Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith lend his name to Emmitt Smith Football.

But he wasn't the first member of that team to give his blessing to a virtual outing - beaten to the ball in a sense by quarterback Troy Aikman, who did so with the self explanatory Troy Aikman NFL Football, as developed by Tradewest Sports.

Moving away from Dallas & into the arcade reveals yet another player-endorsed effort, John Elway's Quarterback getting a seal of approval from the Denver Broncos man.

Electronic Arts, though, were not to be outdone! They hooked up with Joe Montana, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback lending his name to their effort in 1991. Indeed his was the only real name in it as yet again EA failed to secure an NFL licence!

The Buffalo Bills would have good reason for wanting that year's season over with quickly...ending as it did with a Super Bowl defeat to the Washington Redskins, which was the second of four consecutive such losses!

Montana would also appear in NFL Football '94 Starring Joe Montana, released in Japan as simply NFL Football '94 during February of 1994 after an American launch in November 1993.

If you had a Sega Saturn you could've taken advantage of the chance to devote yourself to arguably one of the most important positions on the field of play in Quarterback Attack With Mike Ditka.

The former Cowboys, Bears & New Orleans Saints head coach taking charge of your team just two years on into the bargain & brushing off questions on how hard it was to simulate his normal gameday experience with a simple...
"I've been called a lot of things, and being called 'an actor' has been one of them. It's not that hard to do, really.”
What a hero, eh?

Sega's part in this game is not yet over, either! After EA Sports confirmed they would not develop Madden NFL games for the Dreamcast, Sega Sports announced the release of NFL 2K in 1999 - all the NFL teams allowed to feature before the league signed an exclusive deal with EA.

Moving into a different sort of league entirely, and possibly making things considerably more interesting depending on your point of view on the sport itself, we can also devote some time to a different kind before the game-clock runs down.

Electronic Arts, back when they enjoyed better relations with Sega, released the quite frankly insane sounding Mutant League Football for the Genesis......

Yes, you did indeed read that right. Contrary to popular belief it wasn't made using the Madden '93 game's engine but put a radical new spin on football by transporting games to an apocalyptic wasteland - matches played between teams of mutated humans & the living dead!

If that wasn't enough, obstacles are all over the playing field. Not your usual stuff maybe thrown from the stands, though. Oh no. Here we have the likes of land-mines & fire pits, which to our knowledge have never been part of the NFL's 100 year history? As a result of which you can lose health points or even die during a quarter's play!

Special play moves range from jet packs & electric shocks to invisibility, with exploding balls & the chance to bribe the referee just adding to the general sense of complete anarchy.

In 1997 Midway would, in a sense, join the fray with NFL Blitz...

Originally released in arcades before making its way to consoles across the likes of the original PlayStation, Nintendo 64 & Xbox. What it brought to the party was a massively exaggerated take on more conventional football, certainly faster than what you see on the NFL Show on BBC One of a Saturday night! Not to mention a good deal more aggressive. Not that Gene Goldberg of the NFL's consumer product division was all that fussed - he said upon its release that it...
“...is not what goes on when players are on the field. This is a cartoon. Still, next year, we will dial this back a little more. We're going to err on the side of conservatism.”
Several no-nos of the parent league are actively allowed here, at least initially. Pass interference, late hits & excessive celebrations after scoring are all welcome. As are several moves more common to professional wrestling! Leg & elbow drops are fair play for starters, as is the German suplex.

Unsurprisingly the NFL weren't exactly happy with this & so forced Midway to tone things down as the series progressed. Spoilsports, you might think! But help is at hand if you like your American football to be a bit less sedate.

2001 found Vince McMahon, head of what was then the World Wrestling Federation, entering into partnership with Dick Ebersol of NBC to launch the XFL.

The intention was that this new league would offer a faster alternative to its more illustrious forebear during the NFL's off-season. Two divisions of four teams battling it out on the field & elements of pro wrestling influencing almost everything of it. But it proved a complete flop, nosediving as people quickly switched off due to a comparatively poor standard of play & the aforementioned connections to wrestling - the Los Angeles Xtreme beating the San Francisco Demons 28-6 in the championship game on April 21 of its first & to date only year.

Proving that he most likely hasn't learnt his lesson, Vinnie will be attempting to relaunch the XFL in 2020 - though he's downplayed any concerns over renewed links to grappling & focused on simpler rules of play as compared to the grand old centenarian National Football League which goes on in a comparatively stronger position!

Play on....

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