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Mutant Football League Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Much like the 24 year old game that started it all, Mutant Football League is fast, fun and easy for casual fans to get into. It's also incredibly violent and full of cheesy horror puns. In some ways it's everything I wanted it to be, while simultaneously leaving the door open for improvements. And even though it's occasionally repetitive and can be frustratingly unpredictable, Mutant Football League is always fun. If this doesn't lead to Mutant Hockey League, then there really is no justice in the world. Rating: 78%
Mutant Football League
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  • Review Score:

  • B+
Mutant League Football was my gateway drug. As a kid who wasn't that into football but always wanted to go head-to-head with my friends in Madden NFL, this silly horror-themed take on the sport was just the thing I needed. Sure, it was dumb, but it also didn't take itself too seriously and allowed me to learn the fundamentals of playing 16-bit football without needing to keep track of real teams and players. I loved the game and always hoped that Electronic Arts would continue the series in parallel with Madden. Unfortunately, they didn't listen to me. They should have, but they didn't. So instead of getting annual sequels, we've had to wait 24 long years for a proper follow-up. Now the series is back under the name Mutant Football League, and I'm pleased to report that the bone-crunching action picks up right where it left off.

This is one of those games where the name says it all. Mutant Football League is an arcade-style sports game where mutants, aliens, skeletons and other ghoulish monsters hit the gridiron for a fast-paced seven-on-seven matchup the likes you've never seen before. And I mean that. This is about as over-the-top as football can get, with runners on fire, quarterbacks packing guns and players dying in just about every game. With the rulebook torn up and the cheering audience demanding blood, Mutant Football League is the perfect antidote to the straight-laced Madden series.


Much like the 1993 Genesis game, the teams and players are all parodies of the real sport. We get the Nuked London Hatriots, the Blitzburg Steelheads, Grim Bay Attackers, Motor City Maniacs and my beloved Microhard Mutilators, because apparently they couldn't find a funny pun to go with Seattle. There are also fun player parodies, like Bomb Shady instead of Tom Brady, Rave Scar instead of Derek Carr and, of course, Hustle Killsome instead of Russell Wilson. Obviously, some puns are better than others, but I can't help but love some of the choices.

It all plays out, for the most part, exactly like a regular football game. Most of the penalties are being ignored and there's a lava pit on the side of the field, but the goal is still to march your team to the end zone ten yards at a time. This means that we have to pick plays between downs, substitute players and punt when you're nowhere close to scoring. The big difference is that all of the violence has been heightened to an absurd level. Forget about CTE, there's at least one player in every game that gets blown up into a bunch of tiny pieces.

The good news is that Mutant Football League gets all the basics right. The pace may be faster and the action more intense, but you're still running a lot of fairly straightforward plays. I like that you can hold down the trigger buttons to see how each play is supposed to unfold, and the practice mode even lets you choose the speed that works best for you. It's clear that this comes from a team that likes football games, especially those of the arcade variety. If anything, it reminds me of a nightmarish version of NFL Blitz. The new 3D perspective makes each play more exciting, but it's not all that different from the 2D version we saw a quarter century ago.

Mutant Football League (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Of course, not everything is as straight-forward as my rushing game. On top of scrolling through the playbook, we're also able to choose from a variety of extra illegal plays, like shooting up the field with a shotgun or taking copious amounts of steroids. But don't expect to rely on these, because many can only be used once, and they aren't guaranteed to have positive effects.

What's cool is that even the field fights back. You know how some stadiums are tough to play in? That's nothing compared to what we get in Mutant Football League. Now you not only have to worry about the other team coming after you, but also landmines and fire pits. Some fields will have a giant worm lurking underneath, and don't forget about those painful spikes jutting out of the ground.

The obstacles on the field help to give each match a real sense of unpredictability. I have a hunch that this may not sit well with some football fans, but I liked the randomness of each game. With all the carnage and violence happening around you, it shouldn't come as a surprise that just about anything can happen in Mutant Football League. This includes a whole hell of a lot of sloppy plays and turnovers, which can lead to some real nail-biters in the fourth quarter.

This unpredictability can be both a positive and a negative, depending on what's happening in the game. There are times when the randomness feels completely unfair, to the point where I quit a few matches prematurely. There was one game where I ran the entire length of the field to get a touchdown, only to have the whole thing erased because the ref thought I was showboating. That's annoying, since I have no control over the animation. But then the exact same thing happened again, erasing yet another incredible touchdown because for seemingly no reason. That's not cool.

Mutant Football League (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

For whatever reason, I feel that a lot of this unpredictability actually improves the multiplayer matches. It adds an extra layer to deal with and keeps everybody on their toes. And you see, that's the thing about Mutant Football League -- it's at its very best when playing with friends. I'm not saying the game isn't fun against the computer, but it loses some of its charm when you're by yourself. It doesn't help that there aren't many single-player modes to go through. We get the typical season where we try to get to the Mayhem Bowl, as well as a post-season mode that skips all the nonsense and gets straight to the good stuff. There isn't much beyond that, but maybe they'll add more content later.

Unfortunately, there are a few other problems you'll likely run into. Like a lot of arcade-style sports games, Mutant Football League can be a bit repetitive at times. It's also a little unfair. Think that 21 to 7 lead is going to hold? Don't count on it, because the rubber band AI is always ready to mount a comeback. And it's probably worth mentioning that playing as the defense can sometimes be a little awkward. This isn't exclusive to the MFL, but it's definitely the weakest part.

And did I mention that the game could stand to be a little more over-the-top at times? For example, there's nothing surprising or interesting about the extra point kick after the touchdown. It's just a straight-forward, run-of-the-mill kick. There are moments like this that feel like they could be heightened or mutated, if you will, but that didn't happen. There are definitely some missed opportunities here.

Visually, the game looks fine, but is also a little rough around the edges. I like the look of the stadiums and all the morbid flourishes the developers have come up with. There are a lot of great horror touches throughout the game, including some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. But a lot of the players tend to look the same and the animation is real stiff. The announcers are a bit of a mixed bag, too. Sometimes they will be hilarious, while the next thing they'll say will make me debate turning the audio off entirely. They also get confused a lot, especially when there are a lot of turnovers. None of this should be a deal-breaker, but those going in expecting it to look like a modern Madden game may be a little disappointed.

Much like the 24 year old game that started it all, Mutant Football League is fast, fun and easy for casual fans to get into. It's also incredibly violent and full of cheesy horror puns. In some ways it's everything I wanted it to be, while simultaneously leaving the door open for improvements. And even though it's occasionally repetitive and can be frustratingly unpredictable, Mutant Football League is always fun. If this doesn't lead to Mutant Hockey League, then there really is no justice in the world.
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