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10-Yard Fight (NES) artwork

10-Yard Fight (NES) review

"10-Yard Fight's primitive presentation and mechanics are more detrimental to the game than favorable."

Retro sports titles can sometimes provide a little bit of basic gaming magic. I can't speak for other players on the matter, but I personally don't mind sacrificing contemporary sports concepts and realism if the result is a charming, rustic experience. Although I'm open to the idea that retro sports games can still be entertaining in their own right, I have to admit that some old titles feel downright archaic when they are played nowadays. 10-Yard Fight, the old school American football game, leaps readily to mind...

Despite its flaws, I will admit that 10-Yard Fight's timeworn offerings remain somewhat charming, even adorable. Here you have a modest football game without bells or whistles, lacking even a playbook, a season mode, team names, or individual player identities. Heck, the game is so simplistic that its most complex feature is its array of difficulty settings, ranging from "high school team" (easiest setting) to "Super Bowl team." Even the game's visuals are sparse, displaying close to the bare minimum that you might expect from an 8-bit football game. The field is mostly unadorned, with the only decorations being that of a generic football helmet and some stock team emblems in the end zones. Populating this bland field is a collection of garishly colored, faceless players who only sport the minutest of details. There's very little to suggest that they're actually even football players. Were you to remove one of the player sprites from the context of a football arena and place them, say, amongst the screaming pedestrians in Rampage, they would blend right in.

10-Yard Fight asset10-Yard Fight asset

Unfortunately, 10-Yard Fight's primitive presentation and mechanics are more detrimental to the game than favorable. Take playing offense, for instance. Once the ball is snapped, there's a dearth of options available to you. You could go for a pass, but you only ever have one receiver available. Worse, passing to him on higher difficulty settings is just about out of the question, as the computer-controlled defense tends to be fairly adamant about blocking him. That leaves you with two choices: a basic running play or the old quarterback sneak. The former is super effective if you're a longtime player of the game and know how the computer plays. Otherwise, you can expect to take a severe beating from the opposing team and its lightning-fast defense. The QB sneak, on the other hand, is more of a liability and not even worth attempting. With the game's lack of plays, newcomers might feel like playing offense is a constant uphill struggle.

Of course, that struggle doesn't last forever. After you've become more experienced in playing 10-Yard Fight, you begin to learn how easy it is to game the system. That's right: defeating the computer is more of a matter of pulling off dastardly moves and exploiting its weaknesses than it is about exhibiting actual skill. For instance, you can run the clock down in the period before the ball is snapped. At that point, your receiver will slooooooowwwwly creep along the line, with the clock ticking away all the while. After the receiver concludes his ten-year pilgrimage, you can hike the ball and initiate a strategy that feels cheap, but is absolutely legal. Usually, I guide my quarterback and the running backs accompanying him towards the side of the field with more open space. Just before an opposing player can make a QB sack, I lateral the ball to one of my running backs and rush towards the end zone. About 90% of the time, I can at least make first down with a little effort. Yes, this strategy even works on Super Bowl difficulty, and it can be utilized repeatedly.

The computer also doesn't do itself any favors when I'm on offense. I've noticed that there are times where its players will charge my quarterback, only to inexplicably change directions and decline an easy sack. In other cases, it seems to take the computer-controlled players a few seconds too long to notice that I've broken away from the throng and have already at least attained first down (and sometimes even a long-distance touchdown).

Thankfully, the computer's offense is smarter than its defense, but not by much. Its offense can sometimes get past my defense and even score occasionally, but it ultimately doesn't require much effort on my part to stymie it. The game only allows you to choose from two different positions while playing defense, and I usually select the one closest to the quarterback. From there, I gun for him and am usually able to either sack the quarterback or tackle a running back before he can cross the line of scrimmage. It's not often that I don't cause the computer to either punt or attempt a field goal.

10-Yard Fight asset10-Yard Fight asset

You're probably thinking, "Yeah, that's great Joe. You're good at football games. Anything else you wish to gloat about?" The truth is that I usually suck horribly at football games, even retro ones. Don't get me wrong; I love playing old school football titles, but I'm not by any means a stellar player. It's just that 10-Yard Fight's computer AI is so antiquated that it's easy to figure out how to trounce it.

10-Yard Fight was relevant at one time. It was, after all, one of the first football games on NES (if not the first). However, even within the system's life cycle, the genre evolved so much that this particular game is now redundant. By 1991, we youngsters had Tecmo Super Bowl and its customizable playbook, exchangeable players, smarter computer opponents, and solid mechanics to keep us company. Very few of us even entertained the possibility of playing 10-Yard Fight after that point. If nothing else, the game's lack of standout characteristics saw to that…


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Freelance review by Joseph Shaffer (May 19, 2013)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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