Monday 19 October 2020

Joe Montana Football (Sega Master System review)

Developer: BlueSky Software
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1990

Joe Montana Football is a sports game that was later ported to the Sega Game Gear in 1992.

It supports single matches against the CPU or a 2-player head-to-head contest. There's 28 teams from both the AFC and NFC, although there's no official license so the nicknames aren't used. The gameplay is similar to Tecmo Bowl (1989, NES) but slower-paced and with more options for plays as you can choose between six on Defense and 17 on Offense. After hiking the ball on Offense you can cycle through receivers with Button 2 and once you spot a player that's open you hit 1 again to throw. It's intuitive, although I did notice that the interception rate is significantly higher than the handheld version. For the running game, you need to move towards the player and then press 1 again to hand off; it works fine, but rarely does it result in any significant yardage. In terms of the interface, everything is speedy and responsive and I love that you can just select Joe's Play if you're short on time or aren't too familiar with the sport. The touchdown celebrations are awesome as the camera moves to ground level and you see the player dancing and spiking the ball in the endzone! The game's current stats are shown after each score which is a fantastic idea to keep you up-to-date. Defense is also enjoyable as you can select any player before the snap and tackling and intercepting the ball is straightforward. Special Teams is the most disappointing aspect as it's almost entirely automatic meaning you have no control over kick offs, punts or field goals apart from moving a player after the ball is in the air. It's also too difficult to make big gains on a punt return as the opposing team always has a big speed advantage.

Joe Montana Football is an above-average sports title that plays well in most aspects (especially the defensive side) and the ability to select from a noteworthy amount of plays is great. It is a shame that special teams is so lacklustre, but overall the rest of the action is solid enough as to not make this such a huge downer.

Random trivia: In North America, this game was released at the same time as the Sega Master System II console.

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