You know, after I got Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball
, a funny thing* happened. I had found a new "category" of games to collect: Ridiculous Futuristic Sports Games!
*: aside from the obvious funny thing -- I had to admit that I owned a copy of Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball
Yes, as my extensive collection of crappy fighting games
, golf games and fishing games will attest, there's nothing I love better than finding a category of video game which is basically doomed to failure and trying to buy all of them that I come across!
And that's why I came to be in possession of today's videogame:
Space Football: One-on-One
Every word in this game's title is inaccurate.
To dig into that, let's take a long hard look a this game. If you were to press START from the title screen, it launches you straight into a match and Yoda help you if you've never played before. Fortunately the SELECT button brings up this helpful options-type menu:
My goodness, what a busy screen that is! Well, hidden in amongst all those icons and text, you may find the phrase, "A FOR HELP". If you're feeling particularly smart, you might interpret those words to mean "Press the 'A' button on the Super Nintendo controller to get to the help screen."
The help screen clears up a few things, not the least of which is that this is supposed to be AMERICAN Football (or "Hand Egg" as it's known outside the United States): the use of the word "touchdown" pretty much cements that fact.
That's unfortunate, because the actual game resembles a giant air hockey game, where you and your opponent pilot matching hovercraft and try to grab on to the puck (or Hoverball*) and carry it into the "touchdown area:"
*: I imagine this is supposed to be "huv-er-ball", as in, a ball that hovers above the ground. However I like to think of it as a "Hooverball", with the connotations that it is a very shabby ball, like how "Hooverville" was slang for shantytowns named after the 31st President of America(n football).
Alternately (and in keeping with this article's U.S. and non-U.S. accessibility), if you're in the United Kingdom and you've conflated the brand name of "Hoover Vacuum Cleaners" with vacuum cleaners in general, you can call it a "Hooverball" because it sucks a whole lot.
Anyway, here's some gameplay pictures:
This of course has no relation whatsoever to American Football. An incredibly charitable reviewer could say that it bares a faint resemblance to soccer (a.k.a., everywhere-else-on-the-planet Football), but you don't score "Touchdowns" in soccer, so...yeah.
Additionally, the "Space" and "One-on-One" parts of the title are wrong, too...
So, the match DOES pit you against only one other...well, the game calls them "spaceships",
But they're spaceships that hover above the surface of an arena, and can only leave the ground if they hit a ramp-texture on the track, so I think it's a lot more accurate to call them hovercrafts*
*: or "hoovercrafts"
And the match's winner is determined by which Hovercraft carries the Hoverball over their Touchdown Area more times...but your greatest opponent is really the hoverball.
It is constantly jetting around the field, easily outrunning both you and your opponent. And if you happen to catch up with it and nab it in your ship's "hands" (the little bracket-y crosshairs in the front of your view screen), you had better be very close to your own Touchdown Area, which is represented on-screen by a big blinking arrow that says "GOAL".
Well, ONE of the two big blinking arrows which says "GOAL", the game is fairly unhelpful about that. I guess it's probably the Gold one rather than the Gray one, but when only one of them is in front of you, it can get confusing.
Anyway, if you are to believe the HELP screen, a hovercraft is forced to drop the hoverball if it is shot by its opponent. However in practice, you can only carry the hoverball for a few seconds before it becomes infuriated, shaking around and turning bright red, and then escapes from your (hover)clutches:
Perhaps it should be called "Mode 7 Quidditch: Snitch-Chasers Only Edition"
Basically this game is just as pointless as Harry Potter's Quidditch* -- nominally, you're competing against someone else. But you're both just trying to see who's better at out-maneuver a flying self-guided sphere.
*: I'd be willing to bet that virtually everyone on the internet has already pointed this out, but I'd just like to add my voice to the chorus of mockery: "Goals" net your team, what, one point? Five points? Yet catching the Golden Snitch gives you ONE HUNDRED POINTS and IMMEDIATELY ENDS THE GAME? Every team member who is not involved in catching the Snitch (or protecting the person who is catching the snitch) is more pointless than Ultima: Exodus's Alchemist character class
So, between the bizarre terrain features on the playing field, and the very real chance that even if you grab the hoverball you'll be too far from your goal to carry it there before it frees itself...scoring a touchdown is really quite hard.
And since the games are played to a time limit, this happens with disturbing regularity:
Yes, a 0-0 draw. My weird hydrocephalic space football player sits dejectedly on the hull/wing/fin of his hovercraft spaceship. There was no winner, which means everyone -- my character, his robotic opponent, their hovercraft pit crews, right on down to the Venusian selling little overpriced bags of Space Popcorn in the Space Stadium -- is a loser.
But hey...who IS that Space Football Player on the left?
I'm glad you asked! That's was my character, the default human character for "Slow Speed" Space Football:
Yup, it's like I always say: there's no game so pointless that it can't be made even MORE pointless by picking a tiny portrait of your character, which has no effect at all on game play and is seldom seen after the Options menu!
It's one thing if your character choice has no effect on the game, but changes the sprite
or the palette
of your on-screen character, or if your tiny portrait
is in-frame the entire game.
But if you only see your character's face before and after every match -- why, the only thing more useless is if each portrait had a different canonical name...
Yes, that's pretty goofy!
Why should I care if I'm Sian, Tom, Jackie or THE SLAMMER? Hah, it'd be even funnier if there were DIFFERENT pointless portrait options at the game's next level of difficulty!
Um; my sarcasm is starting to conjeel into pity...
No need to worry about that, because the highest difficulty is chock-a-block with awesome characters:
Just look at Jeff, for example: I'd say his future's so bright that he has to wear shades...but since we're playing "Football" on the friggin' moon, you're probably already IN the future and it might be more accurate to say his PRESENT is so bright that he has to wear shades!
Oh, wait...I take back everything I said about the High Speed characters not being bizarre, because "Jen" is clearly E.T. in drag.
...and the shame of it is:
Whether they were doing it intentionally or not, Space Football One-on-One was at least trying something a little different, and underneath all the crumminess, the idea isn't a bad one:
After the fact everyone talks about how the Super Nintendo is too under-powered to run a first-person shooter (despite having four or five of 'em; for example...
), but the system is perfectly capable of doing blocky mode-7 racing games that let you zip along at a fair clip. So, why not use a "racing" game engine to do something other than running around a track in a circle? Maybe you could even do something kind of first-person shooter-y, vaguely "deathmatch" like?
Well, maybe I'm talking crazy. After all, how could you use a racing engine to do anything but race? How, I asks ya?
Just imagine what might have been...
— carlmarksguy, 2013-03-22