TV Sports Football
Copyright/Publisher: Cinemaware, Lead programmer: Daniel Lucas, Programmed By:
Craig Seastrom, Graphics by: Ken Hard, Sound Effects By: Jim Simmons, Game Tester:
James Maxwell, Producer: Patrick Cook, Executive Producer: Phyllis & Bob Jacob,
Release Year:1989, Genre: Am.Football, No Of Players: 1-28

Hail Mary: it's been no rush release, but it certainly ain't gonna bomb!

Almost a year after the Amiga original appeared (90% Issue 47) TV Sports Football has touched down on the C64. This gridiron sim includes most of the features of the original except the 'Team-mates' (two player vs computer) option, team and player statistics, and fumbles.

Mirroring America's NFL, the Cinemaware Football League has 28 teams contesting six divisions in the hope of reaching the play-offs, and ultimately the Cinemaware Bowl. At the start of the season, any team can be edited to alter the players' names and abilities (speed, strength, handling, agility) and change team ownership - making it computer or human controlled. Changes are saved onto a blank disk which is also used for saved games.

Both league and exhibition (friendly?!) matches start with the coin toss - the winners choose whether to kick of receive the ball at the automatically-taken kick off.

Before each play the playcalling screen appears, allowing both offence and defence to select from a variety of plays, using a combination of two joystick moves to choose the formation and the way the offensive players will run (shown by tactical diagrams)/defence will behave (blitz, or prepare for pass or inside/ outside run.) To add extra variety, the mirror image of any offensive play can be selected by pressing fire with the relevant direction.

After both players have selected, it's onto the scrolling, overhead-view field for the play. Before the snap (start of the play), the positions and assignments of defensive players can be altered (blitz or man-to-man). The ball can be snapped by the offence in one of two ways: pressing fire causes the quarterback to hand the ball to a running back at the earliest opportunity.

Alternatively, pull back on the joystick and thew quarterback falls back a couple of yards, ready to make a pass. When he's in the throwing positions, the quarterback can be rotated left/right to aim the pass.

Holding down fire causes him to throw the ball, a cross gradually moving up the field to indicate where the ball will land - release fire to stop the cross. If a receiver is near enough he may catch the ball. However, care must be taken as the ball can also be intercepted by defensive players.

As soon as the ball is either handed off or successfully passed, the rusher/receiver will immediately start running upfield - you can take over his control by moving the joystick.

The offence gets four downs (plays) to advance the ball ten yards, in which case they get a first down and start the process all over again. However, if they don't make the distnace the ball is turned over to the defence - so teams usually kick the ball upfield on fourth down.

There are three ways of scoring points: a touchdown, field goal, or safety (tackling an offensive player in his own endzone). Field goal (and point-after-touchdown) attempts are viewed from behind the kicker and can be taken manually or automatically.

S.L.
American Football beats cricket for slowness, with apparently endless time-outs and a circuit-fusing degree of ridiculous complexity. But edited highlights make a convincing case for the drama hidden within, a great mix of action and tactical planning which Cinemaware have captured quite perfectly.

The most amazing thing is the fast, slick animation of the beautifully detailed footballers themselves; it really is very close to the Amiga original and seems to me to play even faster.

Combined with the superlative intro sequences, this graphical fineness goes a long way to getting even haters of the sport, such as myself, into the game. Planning which play to make, then actually executing it provides a compelling tactical/arcade game.

I certainly enjoyed it, especially sending buffalo-like linebackers crashing into Phil's quarterback. At 20 with hour-long matches, there's no denying you need a degree of patience and determination to get the most of the complex product, but it's another great C64 game and an amazing conversion by Alien Technology Group - obviously a superior bunch of programmers!

Phil
What an excellent conversion this is. The game plays almost identically to the Amiga version with a great variety of running and passing plays to choose from. Graphics are also very good with detailed player sprites moving surprisingly fast considering there's so much happening on the field.

The overhead view is much clearer than the side-on one used in 4th And Inches, and gameplay is far superior with full control over the quarterback and, when the ball is passed/handed off, the receiver/rusher.

My only minor niggle is that I couldn't get the quarterback to manually roll left/right and pitch the ball out to a running back (one of my favourite moves on the Amiga). This means that your opponent can't be fooled by a fake run before a pass (a 'play action').

But this is a minor flaw in an otherwise amazing conversion. Even though it lacks the original's graphical interludes and detailed statistics, TV Sports Football is by far the best American Football sim on the 64, brilliantly combining arcade action and strategy. A must for any gridiron fan.

ROBIN
This puts the chronic ST version to shame! Both graphically and playwise it bears a much closer resemblance to the classic Amiga game. Okay, so some of the more razzmatazzy aspects are missing (especially cheerleaders, boo hoo!), but more importantly the excellent core of the game has been kept perfectly intact.

Both strategy and arcade skills are tested to the full - you'll need both to beat some of the very intelligent computer teams - and the league offers an immense long-term challenge. The game is complex (just like the sport) and each match takes well over an hour - this certainly isn't a game you can pick up and play for a few minutes now and then.

However, the reward of learning how to pass efficiently and intelligently choose plays is a huge sense of achievement. In fact TV Sports Football is an excellent introduction to the sport, as well as the most perfect conversion of the sport any existing gridiron fan could hope for.


INTRO SCREEN

PRESENTATION 91%
Typically excellent intro/outro scenes, save/load league options, good manuals and quick, albeit frequent disk access.
GRAPHICS 92%
Surprisingly fast and detailed game graphics give the Amiga version a run for its money! Plus impressive kicking sequence.
SOUND 82%
Quite a few good tunes, although once in play there's just minimalistic spot FX.
HOOKABILITY 88%
A bit daunting to begin with, considering the matches last an hour and US football is so complex. But there is a very good practice option and informative instructions.
LASTABILITY 94%
Winning a match is a formidable challenge, winning the league boggles the mind!
OVERALL 92%
The ultimate American Football sim has arrived on the C64. A must for fans!


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