Thursday, 8 February 2018

Jerry Glanville's Pigskin Footbrawl (Mega Drive)

Before I actually start talking about this game, I want to talk about its title. Say it out loud: "Jerry Glanville's Pigskin Footbrawl", and there's something somewhat satisfying in the way it flows. So much so, that for years, I'd assumed that Jerry Glanville was a fictional character, invented purely for the sound of his name, but apparently, he's some kind of sporting multiclasser, having been an American football player as well as a driver in two kinds of car racing. Anyway, it's a port of an arcade game that didn't feature any license, but getting sportsmen's names in titles was a big strategy for early Mega Drive games in the US, so I guess Jerry was the only player they could get who would put his name on this incredibly tenuous adaptataion of the sport.

It's played in a vaguely belt scrolly kind of way, on pitches littered with various objects and hazards. An odd quirk compared to most team sport games is that you control the same player for the entire match, which, since the camera follows the balls, means that you spend a lot of the time offscreen trying to catch up. You do have one little sliver of control over your teammates, however: when you press the punch button, everyone on your team throws a punch at once. Obviously, the main aim is to get the ball to your opponent's end of the pitch, scoring seven points when you do. There's also a "possession" meter that slowly fills while a member of your team has the ball, and if it's full when you score, you get an extra point.

Mostly, this is a pretty fun game to play, with only two major problems: there is both too much and too little of it. Too much because the shortest a single match can be is ten minutes, plus all the intermissions and so on whenever anyone scores and at the end of each quarter. Too little because it's incredibly bare bones: there are only two teams, "Red" and "Blue", and single player mode consists of playing one game as the blue team against the red team. There's no season or career or anything to be found here. There are two pitches, though: the first half of the game takes place in a field, and the second half in a dungeon.

Pigskin Footbrawl is an okay game, but it's really only worth your time if you have at least one friend who's very enthusiastic about playing lots of long matches in a sports game where every match features the exact same teams playing in the exact same venue, forever.

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