Genre: Sports Developer: Sega of America Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1 Released: 1993
From probably 1989 to 1995, Joe Montana was on top of the Sega world. I’m sure he was driving a red Ferrari paid by Sega, living in a Pacific Palisades house paid by Sega and going out on the town, of course paid by Sega. I consider the original Joe Montana Football (1990, Sega) to be one of the best of the older 16-bit football games in the “first wave” of games released between 1989-1991 for the Genesis. He really has had his name strapped to many games for the Genesis, and frankly, today’s game is the worst one yet. Is it anybody’s fault, however? Let’s find out.
Joe Montana’s NFL Football came out on the Sega CD like a quarterback in the shotgun with no offensive line. There are so many things wrong with this game that it’s hardly playable. I’m frankly surprised that they tried to squeeze it onto the Sega CD, because it’s far from able to provide any meaningful fun. If you look at the evolutionary progression of football video games, this game was the proverbial teenage car accident. Because of JMNFLF and what I assume are other mitigating factors, 3D football games weren’t really ever attempted with any seriousness until the Playstation came to be. I don’t even know nor think they were even attempted after this garbage was released, as if it scared away any other outrageous attempt at a 3D football game for years to come.
The game’s menus leave much to be desired, to start things off. There’s not much to choose from! You can select the basics: exhibition and season mode. However, they throw the fans a bone in that they include the ten greatest teams of all time (in his holiness’ opinion, of course) after you win the Super Bowl. If you make it that far, more power to ya.
After you select your teams and whatnot, you can either elect to have commentary on or off, which would have been a great option to have if the commentary lined up with the play on the field, which of course is far from what happens. What actually happens is that the play is run on the field, and once it’s over, they talk about it when you’re choosing the next play. Haven’t we moved past the point? I guess there was no way around that, and I believe that is the one out that this game has: it basically tells us: “hey, we know we really CAN’T make an excellent 3D football game, so we’ll try our best and hope the rich kids’ parents will buy this! HAHAHAHAHA (evil laughter).”
For the most part, the play selection screen is similar to the rest of the football games made by Sega. I much prefer EA’s plays over the years of the Genesis to Sega’s, mainly because I feel Sega’s playbook included way too many offensive plays that were too easily snuffed out. Maybe it’s just me. I don’t know. I’m supposed to be good at these games, but not this one. The first time I picked this one up, I played as my beloved Detroit Lions and threw three pick sixes (for you non-football fanatics, that means that I had the ball, dropped back to pass and threw it right to the other team which subsequently returns it for a touchdown. Video here).
So, needless to say I don’t like this game very much. The graphics just can’t make the grade, and I don’t think they’re bad per se, I just think it was stretched too thin. I mean the players don’t even have numbers. I also think the ball physics are awful messed up too, as the ball tends to float up in the air for a while, but then when the players make contact with the ball, it falls like a rock. There’s no consistency. Oh well, I’m giving up on this one.
Joe Montana NFL Football is not a bad game because it’s a bad game; it’s a bad game because there’s just not enough room or oomph on the Sega CD to handle what it tries to do. Think of this game as the Heaven’s Gate of video games, if you’re familiar with film history. If you’re not, I just taught you something today. So, moral of the story: JMNFLF is a bad game, but it’s nobody’s fault. The only significant impact this game has is that it was one of the first eye-catchers on the Sega CD. That it seemed too good to be true and it was too good to be true, and that it was what The Sports Guy, Alex Burr thinks was the reason that football games didn’t go 3D for any significant amount of time for a few years after this wretched release.