ESPN Sunday Night NFL

Sega CD

Review by Matt Paprocki

Sony Imagesoft


Graphics: 2

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 2

Overall: 2

Long before the days Visual Concepts began developing games with the ESPN moniker, we had the pleasure of enjoying products like this. Much like every other game in the ESPN line of '93, this is a pitiful sports game filled with just about every conceivable flaw a football game could have. The only saving grace is some nice presentation, though time has not been kind here either.

Modes of play are plentiful, but nothing particularly new. Season play (including randomly generated schedules), playoffs, and exhibition games are available, but they all play the same way: terrible. Each game is introduced with the unmistakable style of Chris Berman in FMV style and Mike Patrick also gets in on the proceedings. After this, things go downhill pretty fast.

First up on the list titled "How Could They Possibly Screw that Up?" is the play select screen. Not only is it crowded, but also it's needlessly complicated. It takes some time to make the adjustment, especially if you've become accustomed to more common sense methods of play calling. The passing here system is nothing shot of archaic, using the same system that powered the enjoyable "Tecmo Bowl," but here it doesn't work.

Once a new receiver is selected, the view on the field changes to focus on the possible recipient. Problem? This obscures the view of the other receivers so you need to press the button again to see if someone else has managed to get open. Thanks to a wonderfully slow response time, you're better off taking a chance and throwing to the first available player. Running is even worse.

Actually, it's downright impossible. The offensive line never seems to make a hole and the linebackers just rush the back as soon as he crosses the line. You know there's a problem when you can get more total yards on the ground with your quarterback out of the shotgun than with your halfback.

With Sega and EA's own franchises featuring some really nice graphics for their football games, "NFL Tonight" is downright embarrassing. The sprites look ripped off of an 8-bit machine, but even then some games there have more detail on the players. The view of the field is nice offering plenty of vision downfield, but once the ball is handed off, it zooms right in on the action. It sounds like a decent feature, but you cannot see if a defender is near. Toss in some unnecessary flicker and this one is just flat-out ugly.

Only because of the CD-ROM format, the game sounds pretty good. The on-field sound effects, particularly those of tackles, are devastating. The now retro theme song for the show is great, but commentary is sparse. Berman does most of his talking at the half and post-game. The stadium crowd is the only major complaint, sounding more like radio static than amped up NFL fans.

Certainly the old adage that sports games don't age well holds up here, but this one never played well in the first place. Now it takes a place on a "worst of" list with other football games like "NFL Football" on the SNES. Just imagine this one without the decent sound. Oh wait, that's the cartridge version. That's not even worth playing at all.


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Last updated: Sunday, October 31, 2004 09:14 AM