Release Date: 1978
Publisher: Atari
Controller: Joystick
Players: 2
Genre: Sports
Alternate Title: N/A
Model #: CX2625
Rarity: 1
Programmer: Bob Whitehead

 

Not only is this the first football game on the 2600, it’s one of the
earliest games on the entire system. After learning that bit of
information it should come as no surprise that it doesn’t do a great job
of giving an accurate portrayal of football. It ranks somewhere
between one of those electric football games and the family backyard
Thanksgiving classic.


There are four players to a side, with five different plays to pick from.
Well, they aren’t so much plays as they are vague suggestions on
which direction your players should move. Every down you can either
run the ball, pass the ball, or inadvertently punt the ball. Instead of the
punt only being available on fourth down, you can send the ball
rocketing over to your opponent on any down.

Let’s say you hike the ball and you see one of your players running
down the sidelines and want to hit him with a pass. If you hit the button
without holding down a direction, your quarterback will punt rather than
go for the touchdown. Since a punt and a pass are completely
indistinguishable from one another, the only way to tell if you messed
up is if the ball goes through your receiver or if the other team gets to
hike the ball next down. The upside is that if you are able to launch a
pass, you can use your telekinetic powers to move it all around during
flight. Of course your quarterback moves so quickly and there are so
few players on the field that it’s often better to just run every down
rather than risk a turnover.


The biggest issue with the game isn’t the lack of authenticity or the
mysterious punting, rather it’s the flicker. Some 2600 games have
occasional flicker, some have serious flickering problems. Football
goes full seizure mode with the level of flickering. From the time the
ball is hiked to the time the play is blown dead, it is non-stop flickering.
There are better football games on the 2600, although you should give
this version a shot just so you can see what was cutting edge back in
1978.


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Derek Slaton (41 Posts)

Derek began playing video games in the early 80s, cutting his teeth on every Atari 2600 game he could get his hands on. This kickstarted a lifelong love of games, which continues to this day. No matter how advanced the systems and games become, the love for Atari remains supreme, which is why the Atari 2600 Encyclopedia project was done. With this massive project completed, Derek looks to begin work on another system encyclopedia, hoping to pay tribute to the games that shaped his childhood.