really care for sports. Have I mentioned that here before? I try to
mention it to everyone I hang out with, along with my hatred of
children. It's good to get these things out of the way early on in any
relationship. Anyway, I love video games, but for the most part, video
games about sports are pretty much just as crummy as the sports they
feature. Take football, for example: huge men field an oblong ball and
reward each other with a hearty slap on the ass. Then, a linebacker
screws up his knee really badly and has to retire, at which point he
jumps on the lecturing circuit, telling high school kids about the
dangers of drugs and letting them try on his enormous Superbowl ring.
How can you make a game about that? For the longest time, I thought it
was impossible, but the folks at Midway found a way around this
problem with some old, old, seriously old school football action in
Pigskin 621 AD.
it the best football game ever. "But what about Mutant League
Football," you ask? Sure that was good, but Pigskin was so much more.
"Tecmo Bowl?" Another good one, especially when playing as Bo Jackson,
but again, Pigskin wins. "And what about Madden (insert year)," you ask? No. Just no. Now I
admit that I'd love to have seen Pigskin 621 AD get a new coat of
paint every year, but I think it withstands the test of time just
Of course, I wouldn't make such a lofty claim without evidence.
Consider the following:
surprisingly simple for a football game. Normally, a football game
would involve a number of different offensive and defensive plays, as
well as a lot of fuss over inconsequential things like "injuries".
Pigskin worked all of this down to three buttons: pass, punch, and
strategy. Want to pass the ball? Just hold the button down til the
right player portrait pops up and you're money. Need to get the ball
out of the hands of your enemy? Just hit the punch button and not only
will your team captain throw a punch, but the entire team will follow
in kind, as though there were some sort of hivemind punching rule in
effect. And then there's strategy. There are three strategies for
offense, and three for defense. They run the gamut from the
straightforward "block" to the far more complex and interwoven
strategy of "get ball". There's also a play called "bad attitude" that
works for both offense and defense, but I have yet to determine what
it does for your team, apart from getting your team captain to yell,
"let's kick some butt!"
been saying for years that one good way to really jazz up the game of
football is to add some obstacles to the field. Nothing fancy, just a
couple pits here and there, a few discreet changes in the elevation of
the field, an ankle-high spinning pole, stuff like that. The creators
of Pigskin understood this and threw in a whole mess of stuff to cover
the field. Logs, statues, tables, rugs, and even treasure chests would
knock you down for a spell, and if you weren't careful, you could
blunder into a pond or an open stairwell (no medieval OSHA) and have
to wait precious seconds to climb out and rejoin the game! Plus, if
you got an early lead over the other team, they would hire a guard to
stand on the field and try to trip up your players as they ran by:
A dastardly deed. And speaking of dirt tricks...
Obstacles I've been suggesting for years, but I gave up years ago on
my suggestion that the players be given weapons during the game.
Pigskin reminded me of what I once held dear. Knocking the other
players down with a shot in the mouth was fine for a temporary fix,
but when you've had enough of the other team, just pick up one of the
weapons lying around the field, run right into those jerks, and boom:
mace in the face, sword in the gut, and decapitation to name a few.
For some reason, though, the game considered such horrific acts of
brutality to be "injuries" instead of, I don't know, "deaths". It was
quite strange, especially considering that the "injured" player would
change into a skeleton a few seconds after being "injured" by and axe
to the face. That might take more than some Icy Hot to fix that.
is bound to be a favorite of any who hasn't exactly mastered the game.
Once you got a healthy lead on the competition, normal methods of
cheating simply wouldn't suffice. That meant it was time to "send in
the troll!" One of your players would be swapped out with a highly
aggressive and much tougher (in fact, immortal) troll. This was great
because it meant that even if you weren't the best at football, the
game would still give you a leg up when things weren't really going
your way. That way, you could still win, and if you did win, your
defeated friend could rest assured that he would've beaten you had it
not been for that troll. Everybody wins!
Sometimes, though, one troll isn't enough:
Well, that can only be...
troll can help if you're a few points behind, but if you're really
getting spanked, you can expect to take part in a Troll Bowl. Every
player on your team becomes a troll, and your opponent has got quite a
challenge on his hands. Of course, he has to agree to take part in the
Troll Bowl (unless you reached over and hit his button when prompted
to hit the button "if you dare"), so there's that. Still, it's just
like what happens with a single troll: if he wins, the troll'ed up
player gets to laugh about how he totally turned the game around, and
the loser can grumble that it took a whole squad of trolls just to put
an end to his complete dominance of the game.
If all that isn't enough to convince you that this is the best
football game ever, I don't know what will. It's a damned entertaining
version of football, and it's easily accessible to even gamers that
don't really care about sports all that much (like yours truly).
Combine that with a healthy amount of cartoonish violence and gore,
and you've got yourself a game that everyone can enjoy. Well, apart
from parents looking for a scapegoat, but they don't really count.
Hell, they grew up with Tom & Jerry; a man getting his head chopped
off with a sickle is downright tame by comparison. Oh well, it's not
like they can get retailers to start carding kids for football games,
Questions or Comments about this piece?
email Dr. Boogie
*** You too can play Pigskin! ***
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