Sports Illustrated: Championship Football & Baseball
Anytime you see two separate games combined in one, you have to be a little suspicious. Could it be that neither game was strong enough by itself, so the two were united to fill the game with enough fun? That may be the case with Sports Illustrated Championship Football & Baseball. While you do get two different sports to play, you can also find much more compelling separate versions of each.
Knowing that Sports Illustrated, the leading magazine authority on athletics, is involved, you expect to see some amazing game play. Not. The most obvious flaw is with the licensing -- T∙HQ's licensing budget must've been spent on corralling the magazine, so there was nothing left over for the NFL, the Major Leagues, the various players' associations, or a recognizable announcer. Thus, you play these games with generic teams, without players' numbers, and without enough stats to formulate a strategy. The problem is especially frustrating in the football game, where the lack of player identification keeps you emotionally removed from the action.
- If the other team's offense has driven inside your 20-yard line, set up in the Tight Defense. It almost always holds them to no gains or short yardage.
- Rush your opponent's punter hard -- you'll block his punt almost half the time.
- Roll your QB out of the pocket to give him more time as his receivers run downtield on long pass plays.
- If you're having trouble passing, try practicing with strong passing teams, such as San Francisco or Dallas.
The games themselves are okay, certainly not state of the art but not cellar dwellers, either. In both games you can play Exhibitions or Seasons, with passwords enabling you to pick up where you left off. However, many of the options you find on other sports games -- such as the ability to control the weather conditions, select the field surfaces, or team up with three or four other players -- are missing here. You do have adequate control of your players, especially when you throw "junk" as a pitcher, but passing isn't as effective as it is in any of the John Madden football games.
If your batters can't get around on fastballs, move your hitters back in the batter's box so they'll get a slightly longer look at the pitch.
For a magazine that's very visual, Si's allied them with a game containing comparatively weak graphics. When playing football, your distant, angled view keeps you too far from the action, washing out the uniform colors so you can't always tell which team is yours. What's more, the sprites are too small, and the ball easily gets lost on pass plays. In this age of on-the-field views and Mode 7 rotation, S.I. Football plays like yesterday's game. The baseball game gives you the standard behind-the- plate view, but again you feel far away and uninvolved in the action.
- When you're on defense and the ball is hit to you, watch the runners to see who's trying to advance an extra base. You can often throw out aggressive baserunners.
- If the stats show your hitter has a low average and no power, try bunting for a single.
The sounds, unfortunately, won't win any championships, either. The crowd seems remote, you don't get good sound effects on wicked tackles, and there's no enthusiastic commentator to liven up the proceedings.
While the idea of putting two sports in a single game is a good one, the execution isn't there to warrant the Championship title. Amateurs may like the combo, but pro gamers will tackle this game for no gain.