Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Uncensored "NFL 98" Review for Sega-16


Personally, I'm not that much of a fan. I've just never really been able to get into the sport, just because to me it's just plain fucking boring. Being an avid hockey fan, I've heard from tons of people that my beloved sport is too boring as well, but how in the hell can such a fast-paced game be considered boring compared to fucking football? Maybe it's just me, but a sport where you're flying up and down the ice slapping at a puck while beating the shit out of the guy trying to knock you over sounds a lot more fun to watch than a sport where you line up over and over again for a couple seconds of guys grabbing and falling all over each other to grab what's basically a dead pig and run with it.

Okay, that was a big rant that came out of nowhere. Now where was I? Oh yeah, I wrote a review of the surprisingly good "NFL 98" for Sega-16, so here's the uncensored review for your reading pleasure...and I think I need a zanax...enjoy!

NFL 98
Published by Sega
Developed by FarSight Studios

Ah yes, it’s that time of year. The time of year when guys across the nation get their recliners, easy chairs, and couches set up to watch good old fashioned NFL football, plus set up their fantasy leagues and even fire up the latest edition of the Madden franchise for good measure (also known as “tools”). When it comes to football video games, Madden has pretty much always been the first football video game franchise to come to mind whether they’re a fan of the sport or not, and for good reason considering the Madden franchise has been around seemingly forever. Back in the day though, before Electronic Arts scooped up exclusivity rights to make games featuring the NFL and its players (and actually have to put out good games to stay competitive in the marketplace, instead of shoveling out the same goddamn game year after year with little minor changes and tweaks), EA had some competition, and one of their best competitors was none other than Sega, who released their own NFL games for a long time, going all the way to having Joe “I fucked your mother” Montana as a spokesman to eventually just using the NFL moniker.

Since the early days of the Genesis, there was football. From the original Joe Montana-brand that would evolve into various Sports Talk-branded installments, to the more commonly-titled NFL 95 and Prime Time NFL Football, Sega always seemed to have their collective heads in the football arena. The franchise would skip a year with NFL 97 hitting the Saturn, with this last hurrah being a swan song of sorts. Yes, NFL 98 marked the end of an era in many ways. NFL 98 wasn’t just the last official football game to be released for Sega’s aging 16-bit juggernaut; it was also one of (and I think maybe the) last North American games to get released for the Genesis period. EA had already released their last football hurrah for the Genesis with Madden NFL 98, and it wasn’t long before Sega followed suit. Despite the long running Sega brand of football that had become a staple of the Genesis, NFL 98 really doesn’t do anything new or truly different at all than any of its predecessors, but what really shocks the shit out of me personally here is that isn’t necessarily a bad thing here either.

One of the things that always made Sega’s football games so accessible to me was the ease of being able to pick up the controller, fire up the cartridge, and just have fun on the field. You didn’t need to be a football expert or necessarily know what a Nickel play is or the pros and cons of lining up your offense in the Shotgun formation. Yes, there is a little bit of a learning curve for those who don’t know all that much about what all goes into playing on the grid-iron, but the accessibility of a number of games in the franchise don’t really hamper the overall gameplay and enjoyment out of Sega’s NFL games. NFL 98 follows the same kind blueprint, almost to a tee.

The football plays themselves come off as being a bit smoother than in the previous iterations of NFL 95 and Prime Time, with throwing the ball, running it, and running defensive plays just feeling simpler to do and pull off. Granted playing 16-bit football isn’t necessarily fucking rocket science, but with NFL 98 it just feels like this just feels plain right to put it bluntly. With the Sports Talk games themselves, I always felt like something was missing from them, and while the previously mentioned installments of the series improved on what had been lacking, NFL 98 feels the most authentic and complete of the whole bunch.

Graphically speaking, there isn’t anything in NFL 98 you haven’t already seen plenty of times before. The graphics engine by this time was really starting to show its age, but it still manages to work for what it is without coming off as archaic. Sound effects are pretty much the same recycled crowd cheers, grunts, and hits that have been around forever in the franchise, which isn’t such a bad thing really as it all still sounds relatively good. Game modes are typical including the Exhibition, Playoffs, etc., all of which was pretty much standard at this point when it comes to the football video game world.

All things considered, for every little thing in NFL 98 that we’ve seen and played over and over again before, this is probably the best iteration of the franchise to hit the Genesis. Holding a place in 16-bit history as one of the final American Genesis games to hit the legendary console makes NFL 98 worth checking out alone, but once you get past the aged aesthetics and recycled presentation, you’ll find yourself with a surprisingly deep football game that you’ll keep coming back to for a while. You can find it pretty cheap on eBay, and there are even groups of people all over the internet that have made numerous mods to the game to include updated players and teams. That in itself serves as proof that one way or another, Sega football left as much a lasting impression on gamers all over the country as EA’s Madden games leave on gamers and jock wanna-be’s wallets.


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