1-2 players, vertical game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
$39.95 (Out of Stock)
Stereo? No


There's no surprises here; NFL FOOTBALL for the Atari Lynx is a portable version of the American pigskin sport. This is the sport where two teams of eleven guys each try to carry an oddly-shaped brown ball down a hundred-yard field into the opposing team's end zone. As a licensed game, all of the real football teams and logos of the NFL are used, letting players fulfill their fantasies of managing their hometown favorites. For even more realism, the card features offensive plays designed by a real NFL coordinator, and game strategies can be altered in real time as needed. The action takes place from an overhead perspective, which zooms in and out of the action.



NFL FOOTBALL had such promise, but falls far short. This game has so many defects in its implementation that you wonder if anyone bothered to play it before its release. The good news is that, on offense, almost two dozen plays are available, and each play can be improvised as needed (pass the ball on a running play, for instance). A game lasts for four 15-minute quarters, and two players can compete head-to-head with the ComLynx cable.

Everything else goes downhill from there. On offense, passes are done by holding down the "B" button, moving a crosshair to an open receiver, then releasing the button to throw -- all performed while the opposition rush for the tackle. Running plays are easy to perform, but they yield little yardage and become essentally useless. When you have the ball, any touch from an opponent brings you down, with no chances to spin or break free. The selection of defensive plays is pitiful, with only six general defenses available, and there is no easy way to change the defensive player you are controlling.

Two-player games are inherently more challenging because the computer opponent is pathethic. The Lynx has no head for strategy, and you can use the same play repeatedly with no effect. The computer makes up for its stupidity by making its players run faster than your team; if all your defenders are behind the ball carrier, it's a guaranteed touchdown. Each session is a one-game bout, with no provisions for league play, and there is no difference between teams other than their logos and uniform colors. There are no fouls, no way to block punts, and many more shortfalls, too numerous to list.


The graphics on NFL FOOTBALL are clean and identifiable, yet fail to excite or inspire. The Lynx's hardware scaling is wasted; the screen zooms in at the end of a play and zooms out to a high overhead shot for kickoffs, but most of the game is viewed from a static halfway height. It's possible to be in control of an off-screen player, though it shouldn't have to be. Screen clips highlight cheering crowds and the referee's calls, but they are simply animated there's not many of them.

Sounds are a little better, but not by much. Aside from a title theme, the game is quiet most of the time, with most of the sounds consisting of a whistle and the shlup-shlup-shlup of running feet. The digitized voices of the referee calls are a bit muddled, while the crowd that cheers after each score is a simple "white noise" effect.


It doesn't help if football games on other portable game systems are no more sophisticated than NFL FOOTBALL. The bottom line is that this game is a futile exercise in boredom, and is certainly not fun to play nor worth the price asked for it.

GAMEPLAY:        4.5
GRAPHICS:        5
SOUND:           5.5
OVERALL:         4.5