Review by Snow Dragon

Reviewed: 09/23/02 | Updated: 09/23/02

Varsity Blues

To quote CJayC himself:

90% of everything is crap.
Except for crap. 100% of crap is crap.

Now, to understand this ''crap'' thing a little better, we are going to have to dissect it into smaller subsections and cite specific games as examples. There is absolute crap that reeks so heavily of methane and burnt plastic that there is no way you'll ever force me near it twice (Hardball '99 on PSX, SpongeBob Squarepants on GBC). There is crap that a handful of people, always countable on one hand, that will take a liking to some piece of work and call it a cult following (any Yu-Gi-Oh game). Then there's crap that everybody likes and I could never tell you why (Final Fantasy VIII, IX). Of course, a heavy amount of opinion is reflected in this analysis, but anyone ready to do some soul-searching will find truth in this, whether a boatload or a modicum. But there is one kind of crap I intentionally failed to mention. It is the kind of crap that 10 Yard Fight embodies.

For there is a special crap category (how many times have I said ''crap'' now?) that this game - and several others that we are not willing to admit - falls into: novelty crap, the kind that we know is clearly bad, and for that we love it as a son or daughter. There is something about its badness that shows you that it was obviously striving to be good, and failed in an inexplicably comical way. When you look at the little linebackers and wide receivers stomping across the field in 10 Yard Fight, you will see what I am talking about.

I know why this game receives bad reviews. The control sucks, the graphics are pitiful, the gameplay is standard and soporific in almost every aspect, the AI is nowhere near up to par on any scale, the lack of options is a stand-out, and it misrepresents American football on so many levels that it is shunned like the fat kid in gym class. There is nothing to convince me that this is a bad game, because dang it, Nintendo tried. The thing is, I don't care what people think of this early attempt at pigskin simulation. This game is so much fun to me, and for one outstanding reason.

This is the only football game I have ever been able to win at.

Don't get me wrong, sports games are fun. In fact, I may be the only person who likes to play them even though I am horrible at them. Thanks are in order in part to the sloppy gameplay for making my victories possible. If you have ever played football in the mud, this game's control will be a familiar feeling to you. You just won't be able to see the mud, because it will look like grass. All football players from the Amateur difficulty to Professional move slower than the wait for Christmas Day. Your average garden snail could beat these guys in the Boston Marathon, but you can use this to your advantage. Not only does the computer move as slow as you, it doesn't even know what it's doing! Making any pass to any character is as simple as that, and once a guy has the ball, it's all sunshine to the end zone. Don't bother waiting up for the defense, because they still won't catch you! I imagine a lot of people hated the muddy control with a vengeance, but this is what makes this game fun to me, because when I play with it, I'm suddenly in the lead. Madden 2003 this ain't. You cannot judge it as such. Today, people are spoiled enough to be able to choose whether they want to choose nickel or dime offense, go shotgun with it, or go all out with a Hail Mary pass. In this game, you're just running a ball. For people like me who just pick plays randomly out of the book without having any idea what they're doing, this simplicity is a godsend.

Although it will reduce the length of the review substantially, I will not bother delving into the aspects of sound and music. There is none. Unless you remember the little ditty during the match-ups, which can only be effectively recreated if you have the musical ability to double-tongue notes, there is nothing noteworthy about it, and I assume that another reason people hate 10 Yard Fight is that there's nothing to get excited about. When most people can hear the pollution the sound in the air is making, they get pumped. When I hear the peace and quiet this game exudes, I say, ''Finally!'' Of course, if you have a Jock Jams CD in your stereo, be my guest and play it. It might help you like this game. It's hilariously calm for a football game. Like I said, a novelty through and through.

Other people - I like using that phrase, I'm not ''other people'' - find this game a graphical drag. Considering how many graphics snobs there are today, I'm just going to rule out their opinion right now. They fail to see the great pains that it took to make a game like this in the mid-80s. The sprites are nothing to cough at, but the overhead depiction of the field and the football helmet gracing the middle is something great by the standards of that day. It is not good-looking, and I am not so foolish that I am going to reward this game on its aesthetic merits. The graphics are not pretty. They are, however, the best that could be done in just sixteen kilobytes of space (I researched the ROM size on an emulation site). Games must always be judged on the proper scale for optimum reviewing results.

What it boils down to is that 10 Yard Fight is a lot like beer. People don't drink it for the taste, they drink it because it gives them a good feeling. This game will have a bitter taste the whole way through, but there is a pervading sense of fun that only I and a few others seem to be on the same wavelength as. I am not going to give a Pros/Cons type summary as I do at the end of my reviews these days. If you do not like it, there is no convincing you otherwise. If you irrevocably suck at all other football games or are simply looking for a cheap laugh and a good time. My score is a reflection of the amount of fun I derived from it. The hatred and liking for this game are black and white - no two ways about it.

The best judge of your taste, however, is yourself. I'm just here to nudge you along the way.

Score: 8

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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