IGN Review of Family Fun Football
I don't think we'll ever get the true story, but I have a couple of hypotheses on Family Fun Football. One, Tecmo hired an outside developer to produce the "next generation" of Tecmo Bowl for Nintendo Wii and got something so crummy and underwhelming that the name was changed to something so generic as to not sully what's left of the Tecmo Bowl brand. Or theory Number Two, the reception for last year's Tecmo Bowl revival on the Nintendo DS was so lukewarm the company decided to rebrand the project to give it a fighting chance in retail. I'd side more on the first one, but regardless, Family Fun Football is a bad, shoddily developed Tecmo Bowl clone.
It's hard to figure the audience on this one. Football isn't exactly the easiest sport to immediately understand, but to have a game with a package and art design that screams "we're family friendly!" is so misleading because of the potentially foreign rules of American Football. Not that this game keeps with the NFL rulebook or anything (the fact that the gridiron's 50 yards long versus 100 should be telling), but for those who don't eat, breath, and sleep football there's no tutorial mode to inform what's a safety and why it awards points and turns over possession to the other team. So being casually appealing to non-football fans? That's out.
If you're a football fan you've already got the Madden series, and the latest game in the series already offers a pretty deep "casual play" option. Family Fun Football is incredibly light in features, barely even offering much in the way of game customization outside of a handful of toggles. The Season Mode is an absolute joke as you simply play the line-up of teams once, and the only way to track your progress is to look at the list of teams – the ones that are grayed out are the ones you've already played.
And if you're a Tecmo Bowl fan, you may enjoy seeing the simplistic, down-and-dirty gameplay. Those same gameplay where you only have four different plays to choose from, and the opposition tries to guess your selection for a much better shot at taking you down are in play here. But chances are you'll simply be appalled at the terrible graphics and slightly jittery controls. The character models are these strange Mii character hybrids that just look bad improved only slightly when you unlock the ability to play as the mascot for the particular team you're on.
So what you have in Family Fun Football is a really big mess. The gameplay mimics a 20 year old NES design, but in a Madden-like perspective using graphics that would be considered "ugly" on the Nintendo 64. It's got a whole bunch of mini-games that really have no effect on anything (you just play these silly "catch" "punt" and "tackle" challenges for points during halftime with no benefit to the winner). Once you figure out the limited rules set you might have an okay time, but to be honest the Tecmo Bowl gameplay is incredibly dated and applying non-Tecmo Bowl assets to the design turns it into a sophomoric wanna-be game…even when Tecmo itself is the publisher.
It's not even programmed well: drive the ball in for a touchdown from the one yard line, for example, and you'll get your six points but also be told "No gain on the play." Clock management is non-existent, the time will tick away after a play just so you can watch the silly animations of your teammates.
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