The Game: Woooooo, Packers. Classic pigskin comes to sluggish life in this over-complicated video game edition. Despite the Odyssey’s full keyboard, the game forces players to look up plays in the manual and execute them with joystick commands. After that, aside from some minimal control of whoever has the ball, it’s a bit like watching an ant farm. (Magnavox, 1978)
Memories: Granted, Atari’s black & white arcade football game didn’t exactly conjure up a pixellated Howard Cosell, nor did any of the attempts to adapt that game for Atari’s own VCS. But when one looks at what an improvement Intellivision’s NFL Football was over either the VCS or the Odyssey2’s football games, one wonders what the Odyssey designers were thinking. They had a full QWERTY keyboard at their disposal! The thought of a smoother football simulation, possibly with a Quest For The Rings-style keyboard overlay to make things easier during the heat of play, is frustrating because it was within their reach – and the designers didn’t spring for it.
It’s possible that the accelerated process of game development in the Odyssey2’s early days – back when there was a very real race to put more titles on the shelves than competing Atari – helped to create this unplayable monster of a game. However, it should also be pointed out that other early Odyssey2 sports games – most notably Baseball! and Computer Golf! – were much better than Football!, and light years ahead of the competition on that other system.