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Double Take: Joe Montana II: Sports Talk Football

I have a confession to make: besides my beloved Joe Montana Football (loves Joe Montana Football), I almost despise virtually every football game Sega itself put out for the Genesis. How could that be? That’s a fairly strong statement, you know? I mean, that game is so epic that how could Sega take it and flush it down the toilet (slowly, mind you) with piss-poor gameplay and things that make it so frustrating that it isn’t even fun?  Why was THIS game the one that started it all?

So, what’s actually right with this game, you say?  Well, I think that the presentation is pretty good, for one. The “Sports Talk” guy actually stays with the action a lot better, and he keeps up with the action, even though it is kind of broken up into sentence fragments. “Takes the kick. At the nine. Out past the 10. The 20. Knocked off his feet. At the 26-yard line.” Not bad, for 1991 and for it being the first ever “Live” game, it’s not too bad.

Sounds Better Than It Plays?

The graphics in this title are some of the best I have seen on the Genesis. The field is very detailed (down to some faux wear and tear of the turf), the crowd (what little bit we actually see) actually looks better than some crowds in today’s EA games! Everything has immense detail in the graphics department, and  I really like that. The players don’t have numbers, and they all looking the same gets on my nerves, but the field and stadium have great graphics. I like that a lot.

There are a few major problems that get on my nerves in this game, and a few little ones too. Man, the game just sucks! The players run too slow and the playbook is shoddy at best. I believe the worst thing that changed from the Hall of Fame Joe Montana game is the perspective and speed. Everything about this release runs at like two thirds the speed of the first one. It felt like when you’re playing a shooting game and it slows down because there’s too much stuff going on or when you’re playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Double Dragon on the NES and it flickers. Except here it affects the execution of playing, which in turn affects how much fun the game is!

Now, that’s not to say there isn’t some fun to be found in this game. Some of the plays such as the fake punt or the halfback pass work most every time and shocks the announcer much like the “OFF THE WALL!” play from the Sports Talk Baseball title released in ’91. A lot of the plays are just a bit inane and frankly make me kind of upset, especially most of the runs up the middle. A run up the middle in a football video game should elicit memories of your favorite player zipping through the line, splitting the defense and breaking one to daylight, not running two yards and tripping over your own lineman or something.

Two other things I think this game does well but manages to mess up with poor execution is the menu screens and controls. The menu looks unbelievable! Even better than the menu system on the PGA Tour games, which were like old Apple computer menus. It has little raised buttons (a la the video poker machines and ATMs from Caesar’s Palace) that click when you push them. When you go into the team selection screen, it goes to a players’ locker space and the jersey changes colors when you change teams, which is neat. I think this game could have benefited from a NFL license, but I don’t think it hurts it too bad.

Click to see images from the game!

The controls are irritating, and they are nothing like the Madden games that came out after it. Sometimes, you can’t see when you open the passing up (it’s just a little arrow over the players head) and you accidentally dive backwards when meaning to pass the ball! Overall, I don’t like this game too much, but it is awfully common and most gamers will stumble upon this game when rummaging through the clearance bins at the local game store.

Joe Is Still Cool

Recently, a forum topic reminded me of this game and I decided to pick it up again. The game is not that great, and it’s quite a let down from the first one. I just don’t like it, but you might. Pick this one up for a dollar or two, and enjoy messing with the Sports Talk, enjoy the Jumbotron guys, and enjoy a beer while beating your friends 13-12 because kicking field goals in this game is impossible to me. Among all the great football titles available on the Genesis Sports Talk Football gets lost in the fray, but it does add something to the genre that frankly seemed extremely ahead of its time.

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