NES Play Action Football

a game by Nintendo

Platform: NESNES

Genre: Sports

See also: Football Games

NES Play Action Football

After a year and a half in the making, NES Play Action Football is finally here. NES Play Action Football allows up to four players to compete head-to-head (two vs. two, one vs. one, or two vs. the computer). Or, you can play solo against the computer. Also, since the game sports an NFL Players Association license, the eight teams feature actual NFL players.

Fumbles and Touchdowns

Was Play Action Football worth the wait? Yes and no. As expected, NES Play Action Football is definitely a cut above previous NES football games. After all, Tecmo Bowl, John Elway's Computer Quarterback, and NFL Football were all released several years ago.

With 24 offensive + reverse versions of each play and 16 defensive plays, Play Action Football features more formations than its competition. Individual teams have their own offensive plays geared to their offensive capabilities. Add to this, "real" NFL players who are rated according to their individual abilities -- speed, tackling, power, blocking, hands, passing, and accuracy -- and you get a fairly detailed, realistic football simulation.

But there are flaws. If you're a perfectionist they could ruin the game for you. The biggest problem is the defensive controls. Like most football games, you control one defender at a time and you can switch your control to another player at the tap of a button. Play Action Football has this same option; you can switch to the defender nearest the ball carrier by hitting the A and В buttons simultaneously. But, the defensive switching is sluggish. You can rarely switch to a defender that is downfield from the ball carrier. By the time you've taken control of a closer defender, the ball carrier, who usually has better speed than your defenders, has sprinted by and you're left in the dust. This glitch allows plenty of breakaway runs for touchdowns and short passes that suddenly turn into long gainers. It also makes covering kickoff and punt returns an adventure.

ProTip: Unless your kicker has an extremely powerful leg and is able to kick the nail deep into your opponent's end zone, you should deliberately kick the ball short during a kickoff. A short kick-off forces one of the other team's big, lumbering linemen to run the ball back-which makes for an easy tackling target.

The other problem with Play Action Football is the play of the computer team. The computer-controlled team often does stupid things during the game -receivers run patterns out of bounds and potential tacklers run away from the ball carrier. These aren't game-threatening flaws, they're just annoying.

The Forty-Niner Onside Kickoff-Touchdown Trick: Here's a neat trick against the computer that works 33-55% of the time. First, select San Francisco as your team. When you kick off, aim for the far side of the field (top of the TV screen) and kick a short, onside kick. Once the ball is kicked, quickly tap the A and B buttons to switch to Ronnie Lott, the defender on that side. Tap the A button repeatedly to make Lott run fast toward and the football. Lott is very quick. He can usually scoop up the football before the opposing team gets to it and then sprint for a touchdown untouched.

On the plus side for Play Action Football, it's fun to control the ball carrier on running plays and kickoffs use your blocking to your best advantage. Offense control, on the whole, is very realistic and allows for plenty of innovation. On the defensive side of the line, controlling a dominating player, such as Mike Singletary of Chicago, is a blast. You'll rack up the QB sacks with a speedy linebacker under your command.

  • A good defense for the Chicago team is the "Zone-4 Deep." When the ball is snapped, switch control to Mike Singletary (by hitting A and B), then charge in and nail the QB.
  • The 'Quick Pass" to the tight end, the middle receiver, is almost always a big gainer. Computer defenders don't cover the tight end 90% of the time. If they do, the left receiver is open.

NES Play Action Football will satisfy those of you with Tecmo Bowl Fever -- that malady that strikes football video gamers waiting for a worthy pigskin sequel. In four-player mode, this game really cooks, as a solo contest it's above average and definitely worth a look. We'll call it a strong playoff contender with stars at the skill positions that has some glaring weaknesses.

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