Genre: Sports Developer: High Score Productions Publisher: Electronic Arts Players: 1-4 Released: 1994
Bill Walsh College Football ’95is absolutely my favorite football game for the Sega Genesis, probably because it polishes up everything that was good about the first one. I mean, a game so epic that actually allows you to either play a sixteen team playoff OR a bowl season? Try THAT NCAA Football 10! The first game was the “granddaddy of them all,” the first ever college football game in existence, so things could only go up from there! I gave that game a nine! That game was indeed quite bodacious for its time. There were some things that needed improvement however, like the player speed and maybe the passing windows, so let’s lace up the cleats, put on our helmets and listen to coaches’ pre-game speech and GET OUT THERE AND PLAY SOME FOOTBALL!
So, you turn the game on, and we are greeted to “EA Sports. It’s in the game!,” a digitized picture of Coach Walsh and some really, really epic theme music which is of course in the tradition of Bill Walsh College Football. We get to the menu and see a little bit of a change from the original game! Every team in the game has their logo and their team name logo in it (thanks to being licensed), and it appears that this edition has more teams than the first one too! BWCF ’95 contains thirty-six teams, nine more than the previous year (the 1994 top twenty-five and nine other schools). Nowhere can I find the reasoning for this, but the more the merrier!
The menu system for this game is as clear as crystal but lacks a few things from the first one. First, where are the all-time teams? Second, there isn’t a playoff mode in the menu. But, they added a season mode with an option for playoffs or bowls, so I guess it is an eye for an eye. You can choose from twenty, forty, or sixty minute games; or normal, rainy, windy, or snowy weather. Everything checks out in that department, so let’s get to spring football and get ready to pump the fans up for the upcoming season!
BWCF ’95 includes the first ever college football season mode in a video game and it does a pretty decent job getting it close to the real thing. Rather than choosing a team, the game lists every week in a schedule and you scroll down to the one(s) you want to play every week. For our purposes we will choose Michigan (we can’t choose my beloved alma mater #25 Central Michigan, sadly) and start the game. There is a thirteen week regular season, and an “EA Cup” qualifier round, quarterfinal, semifinal, and final round. I just assume that the top sixteen make it in the playoffs. There is also a four game bowl season, but we see that every year (except that there are 4.5 million different meaningless bowl games now).
The bowl games are given apt yet fake names such as the Maple Bowl, Palm Bowl, Pecan Bowl, and Redwood Bowl. The top four teams from each “conference” make it in to the bowl games, along with the four teams that finish second in each one. I put the word “conference” in quotation marks because they aren’t really conferences but really divisions based on geographical regions. The four regions are Southern, Midwestern, Far Western and Eastern conferences. Every week includes a new ranking per division and an overall ranking out of the thirty-six teams. I forgot to mention that the season is thirteen weeks long, like a great deal of college teams.
Well, like I have said in almost every one of my sports game reviews, none of this matters in the least bit if the gameplay sucks. Frankly, Bill Walsh ’95 is an upgrade from the first game, even though there still are traces from the original classic present. Some of the players are still really slow, but I think that generally the players are at least a bit faster than before. There is a wide playbook available, but instead of having a playbook specific to a team, there is a single, wider playbook. There are many different options, and I guess it is somewhat more profitable to run the ball this time around but not too much.
The presentation here is nearly the same as the original, with a few key changes. One, the game shows you down and distance before every snap. Two, the default passing option is windowless, which isn’t necessarily a big deal for me, but I know a bunch of gamers who think it makes or breaks a football game. There’s an option to turn window passing on, which I think is fairly rare for most 16-bit football games of the time. Other niceties in this gold mine of a release include nice game stats for every player and team and nifty team logos on the play selection screen.
In the sound department, this the ’95 edition is stellar. The music sounds like an extreme 1995 college marching band, and the voice samples are extremely clear. They don’t go overboard with them, “First down,” “touchdown,” “it’s good” and “no good” are the main sound bites, and they usually go along with an animation on the Bill Walsh Jumbotron. I think the only thing that I can find on this game that I genuinely don’t like is that I’ve played it for so long and so many times that I am nearly undefeated! I’m not even making this up, I’ve lost once in three months doing this review!
Overall, Bill Walsh College Football ’95 is unbelievable. Usually at the end of every one of my reviews I tell you whether you should pick the game up or not. Your stock in Genesis sports gaming will skyrocket faster than Brian Kelly if you pick this up. Words can’t even describe how I feel about this game. This game would elicit a tearful Hall of Fame acceptance speech. It’s that good.
SCORE: 10 out of 10