On-Field Football
Copyright/Publisher: Gamestar, Created By: John Fitzpatrick & John Orr, Original Music By:
Humm, Release Year: 1984, Genre: American Football, Number Of Players: 0 to 2

American football is the game in question and this simulation is for two players or one against the computer. Instead of the normal eleven players you only have four a side, but this is about all you can control.

To start with you can choose a quarterback, wide receiver and tight end from the two of each on offer. These have different characteristics and your choice will affect the type of plays you should use.

Once your team is chosen and you've selected the length of the four quarters you can get into the action. You start with the kick-off and from there on the offense (attaking team) always faces up the screen. If you are receiving the kick, a player will automatically catch the ball and you then control him to run back down the field, while the computer controls your other men.

You will be tackled and two bodies will splat audibly to the turf. You will now have possession and can try to move the ball upfield. You're trying to score points by getting a touchdown (like a try in rugby) worth 6, a fieldgoal (like a penalty or drop goal) worth 3 or a safety worth 2. You can do this through a series of running and passing plays.

Progress is made in ten yard sections and you have four attempts or 'downs' to get more than ten yards - if you make it, you get another four attempts. There is a pause before each down, when the teams go into separate huddles to decide their next move. You must have the play called and executed before a thirty second clock expires.

Once the play is underway you control the quarterback - the other players will run their set routes and you have to time when to throw the ball, or whether to run with it instead. A pass will give you control of the intended receiver who must move to catch the ball (you hope) and run upfield with it.

Eventually you hope to get the ball into the opponents endzone for a touchdown and the one point kick that follows. You can relieve tired players at the end of the third quarter (there are four) and you can also have three timeouts per half to stop the game clock.

The player graphics are fairly simple on the all-green screen and there is only the occasional start, finish and scoreboard tune to add to the tackle sound effect.

Gary Penn
I don't know too much about American football, and I found this a difficult game to get into. By removing the game's violence and adding some complex control, what do you end up with... a fairly boring sports simulation.
At first I found the game disappointing because I was only playing against the predictable computer. Once you gain reasonable control over your plays, a different set of tactics and enjoyment reveal themselves. Non-fanatics probably won't like the game because they'll have to learn too many complicated rules, but two football fans playing against each other should find it very enjoyable. Certainly one worth persisting with.
The offensive and defensive plays are fairly complicated at first and will take a lot of practice to get used to. They differ according to whether you're attacking or defending and involve choosing one of several types of play and then giving specific instructions to each player.

The patterns that the players run are detailed in the instructions and once you've learnt them you may be able to come up with quite complicated plays.

The diagrams and joystick controls will at first appear very confusing but perseverance will reveal that the action is in fact fairly straightforward.

Once you've found a successful play against the computer you can simply keep repeating it - something of a flaw in the game design. However human opponents will prove more unpredictable.


Good instructions with clear diagrams, but heavy going for the beginner.
Chunky sprites which occasionally pass through each other.
Great splat tackle noise plus touchdown and title tunes.
First attempt at a full simulation.
Difficult rules and control are offputting.
For the enthusiast it presents an admirable lasting challenge.
The enthusiast will like it but not many others will.