Sorry about the last entry, it was a bit depressing, but it proved to me why I don't choose to approach this hobby for the sake of nostalgia. The only thing I miss about being young is having acres and acres of free-time. Time I wish I'd spent more of either learning or playing videogames. As a grown-up, what's cool about this hobby is having a 30 year backlog of relatively inexpensive games to sift through along with having slightly better time-management skills.
Football (Atari VCS, 1979)
I'm just curious about why we even call this sport "football" when the players use their hands so often.
Let me start by saying that I try to approach every cart with an attitude of gratitude. I'm grateful (to no higher power in particular) that not only do I have access to pretty much anything ever released for the 2600, but I am actually able to find some time to play, even as I'm into the thick of my last two weeks of higher education.
That being said, I should also point out that while I may try to approach with gratitude, I often fail. This often leads to ill-tempered entries, (VCS Slot Machine, APF Blackjack) that may (VCS Slot Machine) or may not (APF Blackjack) do the featured game justice.
I expected such an injustice to occur with Atari's Football for the VCS. I was wrong. In fact, my lowered expectations probably contributed to our enjoyment, though these same low expectations also caused me to procrastinate getting around to playing the damn thing!
VCS Football gives you three defensive/offensive linemen, a quarter/defensive back, five offensive/defensive plays to choose from and control of your ball carrier (quarterback or receiver) or linemen (when you play defense). When the quarterback throws the ball, games 1 and 2 also give you control of the side to side motion of the ball, making it possible to maneuver it around the opposition. Game 3 gives you no control over the players with the exception of when the quarterback passes the ball; the other players do whatever the play chosen for them dictates.
One of the frustrating aspects of the game is lack of control of the defensive back once the ball has been successfully passed. Most of the time, if my son or I are able to complete a pass, we are able to take it to the touchdown. I think it would have been a good idea to transfer the defense's control of the linemen to the defensive back once the pass is made, to give the defense a chance to try to tackle the carrier.
EDIT: Well, apparently it was a good idea! So good that Atari had implemented it! Apparently one can take conrol of the defensive back by holding their button down! So . . . I guess I have no complaints! Thanks to maibock for pointing this out! If we gave out prizes here at Chronogamer industries, you'd get one. Probably a copy of VCS Football. This is another lesson in learning to print out the manual and have it next to us while playing.
EDIT Again: My son and I just played another game of Atari Football and being able to control the d-back made a big difference. We had a great time again! I'd never have believed I'd ever enjoy playing a videogame of Football, but this is proof that I can. Yes, I'm shocked.
This is not a pretty game. It is blinky and fairly ugly, especially compared to previously released football games, such as those released for the Bally Pro Arcade or the Odyssey^2 consoles. Despite the ugly, blinky players, the game offers a full football field, a timer, scoring, down indicators, play indicators and a ball possession indicator. I can't recall how that compares with the other versions, but I can't come up with anything else that would be absolutely necessary.
EDIT: While I'm editing, I should include something supercat pointed out that I neglcted to mention. Atari Football has an on screen 1st-down line! I don't believe any other football "port" to date (1979) has this feature!
Each game is 5:00 minutes long, which was short enough for me to enjoy one game enough that I wanted to play one more.
Be wary that trying too hard to control the players could lead to a damaged joystick! The player-sprites respond well enough, but never move as quickly as one would like, possibly due to the scale of the field (the field looks small, the players look big, it wouldn't work to have them zipping around it). Most people's reaction to this is to push the joystick harder. If you play this game with anyone who is enthusiastic about videogames or football, you should let them use one of your Genesis controllers instead of an Atari joystick, just in case.
Not that we know what the hell a Genesis controller is back here in 1979, we just break a lot of joysticks.
Despite the graphics, despite the sluggish players, there's a Football game on this cart. Despite or even because of a complete lack of appreciation for the sport of American Football on my part, we enjoyed each of the games we played for the purpose of this entry.
Next entry we'll take a quick look at Backgammon.