Indie-ana Jones Reviews: Mutant Football League
Let me start out by saying that I loved Mutant League Football back on the Sega Genesis so I was pumped when I heard that its spiritual successor was being developed. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy and I finally did at PAX a couple of years ago. It was a buggy nostalgia trip, but I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. However, once it finally made it out of beta Mutant Football League really delivered.
In the 90’s, Mutant League Football became NFL Blitz and EA abandoned the series all together and it faded into oblivion. Luckily in 2014, Michael Mendheim, the original creator breathed life into a revival of the gory, glorious, and gratifying football game. It had a rough start with a failing Kickstarter, but Mendheim refused to give up on his passion project and pushed on. Then launched a successful Kickstarter a couple of years later which helped him polish the game and get it released on PC and console. It has surprised people that have joined to play the game with me. They love the stadiums, visuals, deadly traps, and the fast-paced fun.
As soon as I fired the game up, I got goosebumps from nostalgia. Immediately you are offered up a slew of game modes. You can jump right into a game, play in the “Mayhem Bowl,” an online game, and a handful more game types. All of them are fun and easy to start up. Playing through a season can unlock a couple of the teams and allow you to do some customizations. When you hop into a single game, my personal favorite, you choose your team and jump right in. Each roster has great word play, like Matt Ryan is “Ratty Ice” or Richard Sherman is “Mouthy Shermanator.” It’s fun seeing your favorites as all manner of monster. One of my favorites is Eddy Lacey, he’s a huge Orc, named “Steady Spacey.” It’s great because most of the running backs are pretty small and fast but he’s huge. It made me laugh out loud, especially as a Seahawks fan.
Each player and team actually does play vastly different and you can substitute in those that you like, so you are not stuck with a team that is one dimensional. Once they are on the field prepare for some excitement. From the kickoff, you know you are in for a bloody treat. Every time you tackle a player the other takes damage. If you really want to rub salt in the wound attack the downed player to drain their health faster. Be careful though because if you kill the player after the play you get a fifteen-yard penalty for “unnecessary manslaughter.” The referees’ announcements for the penalties are hilarious, one of my favorites is, “We may be bloodthirsty monsters, but we are bloodthirsty monsters with rules.” If you kill them during a play, they will fumble the ball giving you the chance to recover. So, try to damage players just enough that you can create turnovers. It’s hard to balance that when you get into the moment.
If killing players, the “normal” way is mundane then I have great news for you! The “obstacles” on the field that I spoke of earlier are very deadly and there are “dirty trick” plays in the play book. Each stadium and the higher stakes games add different and/or more obstacles. They can range from mines, to buzz saws to lava pits. While you want to generally avoid the mines, sometimes strategically running over a mine might kill many more of the other team’s players or a specific star player. The best part about using the obstacles is that you don’t have to waste a dirty play or it can create a free turnover. The obstacles are amazing and I hope that over time they add more options to add more and different traps.
The dirty plays add another layer of gore and fast-paced fun. You can bribe or kill a ref, ‘roid up a player, and more (I don’t want to spoil all the surprises). The “Bribe Ref” and “Ref Attack” are some of the most fun. If you suspect a referee has been paid off by the opposing team then you can kill him by selecting “Ref Attack.” If you need a little help then you can bribe the referee and he will call some BS on the other team to call back a pivotal play. The BS penalty calls are the best part, I love the flavor text.
One of the best parts about Mutant Football League is the couch co-op or competitive play. I prefer the cooperative because whooping a team together is a total blast. My friend and I played a Mayhem Bowl between the Killadelphia Evils and the Nuked London Hatriots. Neither of us wanted to play as the avatar for the New England Patriots so we played on the same team. By the end of the game we had laid waste to the Hatriots, they only had a handful of players left to field. So, they were missing half of the line, a QB, and a receiver. We won but it was a hard-fought fun as hell game.
Mutant Football League has a ton of heart and is a blast to play. From beginning to end, the games are fun. There can be a little frustration when it comes to using some of the dirty tricks because there isn’t a lot of direction. I haven’t had as much fun with a sports game since Mutant League Hockey. I am so glad that Mendheim revived the series because this type of game has been missing from the gaming world for too long. Enjoy murdering your opponents, not just figuratively but literally.