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Joe Montana Football: Did Critics Love Sega's NFL Debut in 1991?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on September 05, 2014   |   Episode 91 (Show Archive)  


Joe Montana Football (Sega Genesis)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

Thanks to the NFL 2K series, Sega is known for producing great football games. But that wasn't always the case. Today we're going to take a trip back to 1991 and look at Sega's first 16-bit NFL game. Did critics love this game as much as John Madden Football, or was it a last second fumble? We dig through old issues of GamePro, Mega Play, CVG, Video Games & Computer Entertainment, and Sega Pro for the answers.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

Joe Montana Football
[ Company: Sega | Console: Genesis ]

GAMEPRO (April 1991)
4 out of 5

"If John Madden Football from Electronic Arts didn't exist, we'd probably be singing the praises of this cart, calling it the best football game ever made for the home. But Madden got there first, setting the mark for everyone else to shoot at. Joe Montana comes close to hitting it, and even has some features that are better than Madden. Let's call Joe Montana Football for the Genesis a definite playoff contender, but with limited Superbowl possibilities." -Fantastic Fan

79% out of 100%

"Although not quite as playable as John Madden, Sega's own version of America's favourite pastime is quite an interesting affair. Plenty of different plays are available to you as you attempt to overcome all-comers. To help novices, Joe occasionally appears onscreen offering advice on what play you should execute next. Still second best, though."

77% out of 100%

"I'm no big fan of American football (good ol' soccer's more my thing), but I know enough to realise that Joe Montana is nowhere near as thrilling or entertaining as the superlative John Madden. So, if gridiron is your bag, go for that instead."

7 out of 10

"Sega nearly missed the boat with this one; the pigskin season has already ended, and a lot of potential consumers were swept away by the realism and general excellence of Electronic Arts' John Madden Football, which was released just in time for the holiday shopping crunch. But Montana Football is a game for video game players, not just football fans." -Chris Bieniek

MEGA PLAY (April 1991)
5 out of 10

"Next to Madden football, there is no comparison! Montana football lacks the amazing feel and play depth of Madden football, and controls sluggishly. Only average." -Dave
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 64% - Joe Montana Football was no NFL 2K. As GamePro wisely points out, "if John Madden Football from Electronic Arts didn't exist, we'd probably be singing the praises of this cart." Unfortunately, John Madden Football did exist, and it came out just a few months earlier. Sega's very first 16-bit NFL sim simply couldn't stack up when compared to EA's seminal release.

The UK press had a very interesting reaction to what they called Joe Montana American Football. Both Sega Pro and CVG started their reviews by noting their disinterest in the American sport, which they hoped would shield them from criticism over their lower scores. However, this is the complete opposite of how the British media portrayed John Madden Football.

Clearly low scores isn't a UK thing, because Mega Play also found the game disappointing. All four Mega Play critics gave the game a grade of 5 out of 10, most comparing it unfavorably to John Madden Football. Those scores brought the average down to 64%, much lower than John Madden Football's 90% and Mutant League Football's 76% average.

ON MONDAY'S EPISODE: Now that everybody is sick of football, we're going to shake things up with a look at three Mega Man games. The Review Crew will kick things off on Monday with a look at Mega Man 2 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Did critics love this game back then as much as everybody loves it now? Find out on Monday when we kick off Mega Man Week! Make sure and check out the Review Crew archive for more old school reviews, and don't forget to tweet me @DefunctGames to let me know what games you want to see next!

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