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College Football’s National Championship II

Genre: Sports Developer: BlueSky Software Publisher: Sega Players: 1-4 Release: 1995

There will always be the complaint of sports games being the same with yearly releases. On the Genesis, a lot of the football games stood out against the competition and for having improvements over their predecessors. Unfortunately, Sega and BlueSky didn’t do anything for College Football’s National Championship II in late 1995. It’s still a decent game if you haven’t played the original and NFL ’94, but it’s a lousy way to finish up a five-year run of football games.

You will still get the big picture with how it plays, since it’s the exact same game. The 25-second clock is back, as well as the camera not zooming in on kick and punt returns. It’s got 27 of the 32 teams from the original, such as the Syracuse Orangemen and Georgia Bulldogs. Five new schools are in, like the North Carolina Tar Heels and Wisconsin Badgers. On the bright side, there is still the ability for one to four players via the multitap. Nothing new was added in for the game options. Exhibition mode is still here, along with the tournaments and season to become a national champion. This also saves with battery backup, and you can still play as any of your favorite college teams.

There really isn’t much to discuss graphically. The original had that issue, but it was excusable; this doesn’t. The sequel looks exactly the same, including the animations of the players. The only things that are different are the menus and play-calling screen. Other than that, the fields and weather are the same. As far as the audio goes, BlueSky retooled a little bit. For the music, it’s the same three fight songs for the title screen. They did add in one very short track for halftime and at the end of the game, but that’s it. The only sound effects to survive this version are those that play when you get tackled.

The big thing with National Championship II is Sega not having the running commentary. It isn’t too surprising, if you played NFL ‘94 and the original National Championship. Still, it’s disappointing that they didn’t keep it, as it really added to the feeling of it being a real game on TV. Voices are given for the referees, and they are garbage. They are muffled badly and add nothing to the action. Even the early Madden titles did this better. The crowd sound effects are new and remind me a bit of the NBA Live titles. There is also some new grunts and voices for players when a play happens and during audibles. Overall, the game does stand out a little bit in that aspect.

Calling plays hasn’t changed. You have 25 seconds to get a play off on offense. There are three personnel groups you can pick at once, which can be cycled through. Pressing the personnel you want gives you the formations and the plays of the formation that are picked. Once again, certain teams will have their style of formations but the same kinds of plays. As with the defenses since NFL ’93, the same formations and plays on defense are used. On both sides, pressing down gives you more options. There is still the ability to throw from the shotgun and having a player in motion, where a button has to be pressed for the latter. That’s still the only way the six-button controller is utilized. With kicking and punting, it’s still the same. With whatever weather settings you have set, you’ll still get longer or shorter distances.

For controls, nothing has changed. Offensively, you can still switch to receivers on passes and call audibles. After the snap, a quarterback can still look for different targets or dive before throwing bullet or lob passes. If running, you can still get a speed burst, spin, or dive. On the defensive side, switching players and jumping to pick off a pass is the same. That can also be said for switching players and calling audibles before the ball is snapped. Just like the original, it still plays well, and the comfort level should be good for many who have experience with it and NFL ’94. The same penalties are here, along with no injuries to players. Some might still need patience to run stuff like wishbone formations and option plays if they are new to this.

There isn’t much for options since its mostly the same offering as before. Pre-game stuff includes changing time per quarter, weather effects, and difficulty. New is the ability to play quarters that last less than five-minutes. Time outs can still be called on the field. Instant replay, passing cursors and the camera angles haven’t changed a bit and can be accessed by going to the pause menu. Stuff like changing teams and viewing stats are back. Records are also brought back to show off to people things like 400 yards passing in a game.

Other than it being the exact same game with different bells and whistles in audio, there isn’t much that can be said in terms of complaints. It’s still a little predictable against the computer, as it still does Hail Mary type passes early in a game when it’s third and long. That’s about it. A game can go from 15 minutes to a couple hours depending on the clock settings. Unless you haven’t played the other games, I can’t really recommend College Football’s National Championship II. It’s still a common game, but there’s not much of a reason to get it. As far as playability, it’s solid, but the presentation and lack of additional features hurt it. Your mileage may vary on how you feel about the other Sega/BlueSky football games.

SCORE: 6 out of 10

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