Play Action Football

  • Released on Sep 1, 1990
  • By Nintendo for NES

Play Action Football review
Not a Touchdown, but still a decent title

The good:

Real NFL cities and players. Simulation-style gameplay. Up to 4 players supported.

The bad:

Poor graphics and music. Somewhat complex controls.


One of the first titles that helped launch Nintendo's 4-player accessories, Play Action Football was Nintendo's answer to the popular "Tecmo Bowl" series, bringing 4-player support, 8 NFL cities with real players, and a sim-based gameplay engine to the gridiron. You could even work your way through a season and try to get to a Super Bowl of sorts.
Unlike Tecmo Bowl, this game shows gameplay in a overhead view from a bit of a diagonal perspective, somewhere between 3/4 and overhead. The graphics themselves are not that good. Movement of characters is not smooth at all and there's not much detail, plus it's hard to see when they all bunch together. A couple of nice touches are the scoreboards when you score a touchdown and when the referee signals a score or 1st Down. Sounds aren't much better either between redundant music and some static crowd noise. On the flip side, there's actually a little bit of digitized speech, namely when the referee says "1st Down!" ot "Touchdown!" Controls are complicated at first but otherwise responsive, but after a while it seems like you're better off just button mashing and hope for the best.
Gameplay is where points are scored here-it's purely sim-based and there's strategy involved: Each player has an Energy meter that must be carefully monitored. If it gets depleted through play, that player is briefly out of the game and has to recover before you can use him again, so there's some substitution & coaching strategy involved there. Also in multiplayer play, by choosign your plays faster, you give your opponent almsot no time to choose theirs! You can play single games or a Season mode and work your way through playoffs to a Championship game. The teams feature real NFL cities with real players and numbers, but no team names or logos.
If you're looking for a decent sim-style football game or one that the whole gang can play, pick this one up. Otherwise you're probably better off with Tecmo Bowl 2.

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