You wouldn’t believe the look on my face as I was casually walking around checking out different things at GDC and came across Mutant Football League. I had to get my hands on it, and now that I have, I’m more intrigued than ever.
Mutant Football League is inspired from Electronic Arts’ Mutant League Football, which came out on the Sega Genesis in 1993. I’m proud enough to say that I definitely did play that game a couple times thanks to the Sega Channel (R.I.P.), and it’s a real joy to know that this kind of arcade football game is back.
Developed by Digital Dreams Entertainment, Mutant Football League really isn’t that far from NFL Blitz, except there’s obviously no NFL involved, so it’s pretty much all holds barred. There are late hits, weapons, paying the referees, and flatout murder. In fact, there’s an injury or death almost in between every play, and you’ll get updated on it. Tim Kitzrow of NFL Blitz and NBA Jam fame is even the game’s main announcer, so you can bet there’ll be crazy commentary.
I had the pleasure of sitting down and playing a game with Maxim Novikov, the Chief Technical Officer at Digital Dreams Entertainment. I used the Grin Bay Attackers (I think that’s what they’re called), the game’s version of the Green Bay Packers, and he used the evenly matched Mile High Chronic, the game’s version of the Denver Broncos.
As a Packers fan, I was impressed with the fact that we were playing in a literal frozen tundra. It was snowing, the field was frozen, and there were actually hockey-style walls barricading the field, which Maxim told me I can actually throw people into–unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to do that.
Play selection was pretty simple, so if you’ve played any football game there isn’t much to talk about, except for the dirty plays, which will be gone over later in this preview.
The passing game felt a little clunky. After dropping back to pass, my quarterback (whom I forgot the name of, but was definitely a pun of Aaron Rodgers) threw the ball like a half second after I pressed the button, so it was pretty awkward. Not only that, but the receivers were also pretty slow running their routes. As for the running game, it’s nowhere near realistic, but honestly nobody expects that out of a puzzle game. My monster version of Eddie Lacy kept getting tackled by the shoestrings, which surprised nobody considering how bad he is.
As stated earlier, late hits are a thing. So whether you’re on offense or defense, after the play ends, you can easily pop back up and throw cheap shots at your opponent. Everybody on the field clearly had their own health, so it was a good opportunity to knock people out of the game. The game we played also featured random holes that people could fall in, killing them.
Dirty plays spice the game up. Among the dirty things you can do are pay the ref, and even bring a chainsaw to the field and kill everybody you see and make a gruesome, awesome mess.
The fact that you could kill is pretty hilarious, and what’s even more bonkers was seeing a counter of how many players each team actually had that was still alive. I’m assuming you lose if you run out of players, but I didn’t think until now to ask.
Weirdly enough, defense was actually a blast to play. I was totally dominating Maxim on defense, literally getting a sack as soon as every other ball was snapped. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the offensive line mechanics were broken because as I would hit the tackle button as soon as the ball was snapped, and the opposing quarterback was immediately sacked. Knowing that, I just kept doing it, and it just kept working.
I ended up winning the game 6-0 after triple overtime because both of us had trouble moving the ball.
If everything with the Kickstarter and development goes well, we should see this game available digitally on PC in October in time for the middle of football season. PS4 and Xbox One versions are planned, but no definite release date window has been given.
Despite the easy to point out early flaws, Mutant Football League is definitely a game I have on my watchlist, and other football-loving gamers should too. You can support the game’s Kickstarter here.