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10-Yard Fight (Arcade)

10-Yard Fight (Arcade) review


"Before machines had all this power to make football realistic and fast, designers had to choose the most exciting bits to cram into 200K. The game 10 Yard Fight focuses on a one-minute drill. Kickoffs take no time, first downs regain time, and interceptions push the offense twenty yards back. If you score a touchdown, the computer kicks the ball farther next time, and you start with less time against a quicker, more aggressive defense. With your runner near the bottom in the semi-overhead..."



Before machines had all this power to make football realistic and fast, designers had to choose the most exciting bits to cram into 200K. The game 10 Yard Fight focuses on a one-minute drill. Kickoffs take no time, first downs regain time, and interceptions push the offense twenty yards back. If you score a touchdown, the computer kicks the ball farther next time, and you start with less time against a quicker, more aggressive defense. With your runner near the bottom in the semi-overhead view, random defenders popping up from behind more quickly can bust the best-planned plays. Five yards per play is always simple, but managing time is another matter. Often you must decide between a sure five-yard gain and risking second-and-one and running out of time.

At least the kickoff is straightforward. The return man and his neckless blocking convoy march in unison to a drumbeat. Then the defenders arrive, and running your blockers into the defenders is not tough. All clear...except the defenders, surprisingly quick to recover, reappear without warning at the bottom. Some even dive. A diving tackle, preceded by a "whup" noise, always works, as does a double tackle. But for the first three defenders that touch you, you can break the tackle by moving in circles.

Offensive plays are more complex. You have two running backs flanking your quarterback, and a receiver goes in motion. Five offensive and defensive linemen are mostly cosmetic, but the ends slip around the tackles more quickly as you move down the field. Four defenders vary their positions randomly--they can be three or six yards deep or at the line of scrimmage. Sometimes they're stacked to one side, which allows for a lateral to a running back and a quick completion, but other times when they are balanced, passing becomes a matter of goading several linemen into the backfield and throwing the ball over the defender. Passes become necessary on later levels when gaining a first down takes ten minutes.

And there's one play you wouldn't suspect that helps: a deliberate interception. These only kick you twenty yards back, so you can throw a quick interception against a balanced defensive front and have an easier shot at a first down next time. In the later levels, you often move up and down the field, at the mercy of the opponents' formations, until you make a mistake, a clump of defenders gang-tackles your receiver from behind without warning, or the defenders line up badly several times in a row.

With all these factors, it'd be a war of attrition but for the zigzagging to keep defenders--including the invisible ones behind--off guard (do it well enough and they freeze momentarily,) breaking tackles, avoiding crowds, reading defenses and timing a pass--usually when the safety is between the passer and receiver. The static noise after any completed pass or first down work mimics a crowd surprisingly well, as does the ref who takes TWO WHOLE SECONDS to walk in and call a play dead--often after the defender who intercepted you jumps around a couple seconds. Between the opponents' taunting and officials' incompetence, I feel mad and anxious as I've ever felt at a game, and getting near the first down with time expired--there's nothing like a marker--left me in helpless anticipation of the ref's calls.

10-Yard Fight is full of features that show the designers may not have understood the details of football, but they understood what made it exciting. There are the awful opponent colors (purple, blue, green, grey) clashing with your team's righteous red, white and blue, and the odd mascots in the end zone--a pink horse or a cowboy-aviator. You play each team twice, in the first and second halves, and on scoring a touchdown, you can kick the extra point or go for two, where an invisible blocker aids your end-zone run but three receivers wandering in the end zone don't. Even if you fail the conversion, you get a cute fight song after you win, with motivational Engrish and faceless cheerleaders that jump and give a panty shot. The refs saying "TATCHdown" and "FARST down" are dramatic but mispronounced. Defenders and runners crumple and dive realistically, and a defender who tackles a receiver right away does a little dance.

Of course, today's realistic games have plenty of one-minute drills near the end. But it's more fun to me to have them all the time. I catch myself pushing forward hoping for a burst of speed even though the runner goes that way by default. With no playbooks to learn, it's a simple, intuitive game. Run the ball, toss it when you're surrounded, learn to fake, curse a lousy ref or cheating opponents, and maybe draw things up differently next time. That's enough to wear me down with intensity instead of repetition.

Rating: 8/10

aschultz's avatar
Community review by aschultz (October 15, 2010)

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