Atari Football

Atari Football is a game from , originally released 31st December, 1969

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Atari Football Review

When you break it down to its basic X’s and O’s, football seems like it should be a simple game… but anyone who’s a fan knows that it’s much, much more than that. Just ask Bill Belichick.

He’d tell you to stay far away from Atari Football, which incorporates exactly none of this thought or complexity. It offers up only an empty shell of a football game for the iPhone.

The design of this game harkens back to the days of the 2D football titles in the mold of Tecmo Bowl, when graphics weren’t all that important. What mattered was play calling and execution. There was no such thing as a “juke stick” or a “Playmaker button.” The fun part of those games came down to strategy, and maybe a little bit of luck.

Atari Football tries to recapture that style, presenting a horizontal gridiron with helmets instead of player models. But it uses a radically downsized playbook that’s cut down to just eight plays each for offense and defense. It’s pass and run, performed with simple finger gestures in the desired direction. There’s no special teams, so it’s four downs and out.

With such a limited playbook, gameplay is reduced to a game of chance. Success boils down to picking a pass play or a run play and hoping the opponent picks the wrong defense, and vice versa. It resembles the those old school tabletop games with the vibrating board — just set it and forget it, and then see what happens.

But that’s not football.

To be fair, Atari Football might have some appeal to people who don’t know or care about football. Its simplified presentation certainly breaks the game down to its building blocks. But there are definitely much better ways to spend $2.99 on the App Store. Take a punt on this one.