Game Review: 10-Yard Fight

Hey guys, it’s Kernook here, and it’s time to talk about a little game that’s hardly remembered these days called 10-Yard Fight. This is a retro sports title that revolves around American football. I really must say, retro sports games like this one are special due to their antiquity. Games like this one only offer a useful look at what gaming used to be.

That reflection is important, but that’s about all 10-Yard Fight has going for it. This is a basic football simulation game. You might get a little fun out of the novelty of playing such an old title, but you’ll also get plenty of little annoyances. More on that later.

When I say this game is old, I mean it is older than the NES itself, type of old. This game is absolutely geriatric by gaming standards any way you look at it. 10-Yard Fight was developed and published in Japan by Irem. It was originally for arcades in 1983, not consoles. It finally came over to the NES in 1985. Honestly, playing the game feels just as out of place as you might expect.

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The sound isn’t the greatest, the visuals aren’t either. Just looking at the field itself, the little players skittering around lack a fair bit of polish even for its time. There’s a lot of important gameplay features missing here too and these days it makes the game even more annoying to play.

The game doesn’t even have the standard playbook or the season modes you might expect from other games of its genre. You won’t get team names, or any detailed customization of the team itself, either. The difficulty settings are also bare bones at best, vague at worst.

Obviously, the game has not aged well under the hood, either. The artificial intelligence in the game (AI), can’t predict even the most basic strategies. On easier settings, you’ll be able to outmaneuver it without much effort at all. On harder ones, sometimes it feels almost random. Once you get used to the learning curve of the game itself, there’s really nothing more to do. It becomes a glorified fidget toy.

I suck at football games (and arguably all games in general), anything besides Tecmo Bowl may as well be me kissing my butt goodbye. 10-Yard Fight is lackluster in comparison, and you don’t need to be a top tier gamer to see that.

Then again, we’ve been spoiled by gaming these days, let’s not forget that. I’m sure that 10-Yard Fight was probably a wonderful game at one time, likely beloved by football fans who got to grow up with it… but therein lies the problem for me.

I was born in 1989, so clearly I missed out on those early glory days. There’s a reason why Tecmo Bowl stands out to me as one of the better retro football games. It was the game I grew up with, and the one I was introduced to in my earliest days as a gamer.

Is 10-Yard Fight objectively a good retro game? Well, the jury is out on that when we put the game under scrutiny… it’s old, and it lacks a great many features that we’d expect these days. We’ve got to cut it a little slack at least. After all, it is one of the earliest first football games out there for a console in the first place. We can’t exactly expect the sun, moon and stars here.

That being said, it’s important to look upon gaming’s history, and to me 10-Yard Fight is one of those historical landmark titles often forgotten about. So, no, it isn’t complete and total crap from a historical standpoint. We could hardly appreciate later iteration of football titles without understanding what we lacked before those things became commonplace.

If the history of games appeals to you, and you are a football fan, it may be worth it to try the game for yourself… but if you actually want a good retro football title, then almost any other game would do you better. Clearly, I’d suggest 1991’s wonderful SNES game Tecmo Bowl.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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