The game consists of seven levels that take players through various locales: A Swiss Alps-style mountain, a cavern, a mine, a submarine, a haunted ship, a port town, and a castle. Mini-games are available at certain points that allows players to collect extra lives. These mini-games are Peabody and Sherman, where players control Sherman and blow bubble gum bubbles to clog a dragon’s mouth, and Dudley Do-Right, where players ride a horse and avoided an ever-approaching train which is driven by Snidely Whiplash.
I ordered a CD-ROM of old Tetris game but received 2 3.5″ floppy disks that are totally useless in my modern computers. I can play them in my very, very old Tandy 1000SX but that is packed away in the attic. There is a very good reason that I use Windows-based programs now rather than DOS-based programs. I am going to return this item for a refund.
Style: Action Puzzle
Release Date: 1992
Developer: Spectrum HoloByte, Inc.
NFL Pro League Football
is not an arcade
game that gives the
feeling of unleashing a long
pass or slogging it out on the
defensive line. It does not
blow players away with glitzy
graphics or sound. It is, however,
unmatched as a thinking
fan’s football simulation.
It is football handled like a
game of chess with live
pieces. It offers an intelligent
choice of playing modes and
an incredible depth of statistical detail. This is not a game for
novices, but for serious fans who know their football and want a
game that takes full advantage of that knowledge. Further, it is welldesigned
as a platform for computerized league play.
The “new 1991 version” now in the stores, the subject of the current
review, is an upgrade of a game available previously. Owners of
the earlier version can upgrade at a reduced price. Gamers will want
to know what is in the box, since it carries a much higher price tag
than the competition. The game comes with a glossy player’s
manual, two glossy player reference cards and 3.5″ and 5.25″ disks
containing compressed files that are expanded during installation. It
requires a hard disk, EGA or VGA graphics and 640K of RAM.
However, it is the wealth of real player statistics that has driven up
the cost, since the developer paid licensing costs to the NFL and to
the Players’ Association. The game comes with five years (1986-90)
of NFL rosters for all the pro teams, an amazing 140 rosters in all.
Additional player disks covering earlier decades are said to be available.
The game allows head-to-head play over modem and downloading
of current team statistics from the USA Today Sports Center
(not tested by this reviewer). It does not support joystick or mouse.
The documentation, especially the reference cards, which describe
available offensive and defensive plays, is clear and helpful, but assumes
a solid understanding of football strategy. There is a great
choice of offensive and defensive plays and strategies. The game
also contains the most excellent printing and record-keeping utilities
yet seen in a computerized football simulation.
The opening menu gives the choice of two playing modes and
various statistical utilities. Players can choose to play NFL Head-Up
Football or NFL Pro League Football. It is also possible to access
the General Manager, League Leaders and Stats Keeper modules
from this menu.
Going Head to Head
NFL Head-Up Football is a one play at a time game simulation.
When plays are being run, there is a full-screen shot of the play as if
from a low-flying blimp hovering directly above the quarterback’s
head. The animation is rather rudimentary, and the sense of action is
limited by the fact that the ball is always snapped from the same
spot on the screen, so that the hash marks, not the players, move between
plays. When the ball is not in play, the screen charts the position
of the ball on the field, gives a text summary of the most recent
play and shows a shot of the referee who may be signalling a call.
The play-by-play summary can be routed to a printer for a full record
of the game.
Several choices can be made before the game begins. Two players
can take opposing sides, or one player can take on the computer.
The month, the weather, the speed of the simulation and other variables
can be adjusted. The simulation knows which teams play their
games in domed stadiums out of the weather. Players enter a twodigit
code to select a play from a vast choice of offensive and defensive
plays shown on sturdy laminated sheets.
The large choice of plays is intimidating at first, but the codes are logically designed and can be studied and mastered through repetition.
After the game, the outcome and statistics can be added to the
accumulated records of either or both teams through the Stats
Keeper utility. There is no reward for eye-hand coordination and no
reason to feel pressured by even a tense last-minute goal-line stand.
The clock always stops long enough for one to input his/her twodigit
code and there is no penalty for delay of game. By the way,
despite the range of other choices, there is no way to control who is
on the field through substitutions. Neither can one trade players between
two teams or make other roster changes without a supplementary
disk. Injuries do not play a part in this simulation.
Let the Season Begin
While the head-to-head mode of the game is enjoyable, the other
mode of play available in the game, the actual NFL Pro League Football,
may be more interesting to statistics players, as well as being
better conceived and considerably more innovative in terms of game
design. The designers have captured the essence of football strategy
for a speedy game replay that does not require players to choose
The key feature is the “Game Plan,” a one-page summary of the
overall strategy for a player to select, bearing in mind the player’s and the opponents’ team’s strengths and weaknesses. There is a
chance to choose the percentage of time to pass under various
down-and-yardage situations, the percentage of times to blitz, play
receivers loose or tight, and so on. There is even the chance to program
in half-time corrections, changes in the plan that will be implemented
if the team is ahead or behind by more than a specified number
The Game Plan screen is intimidating at first glance, and fortunately
the computer generates a proposed Game Plan for any set of opponents
to help the novice, who would not really have the knowledge
to plan a skillful outing against Joe Montana and his friends. As well
as filing the Game Plan, one also has most of the same choices as in
head-to-head play. However, on the reviewer’s copy it was not possible
to set weather conditions manually as promised in the manual.
After the Game Plans have been filed, the simulation takes only a
couple of minutes or less to play itself out (depending on the
computer’s processing speed). The graphics, again, are unexciting.
One can watch a sideline view of the ball sliding back and forth
across the yard lines as drives churn on or sputter out, or look down
on x’s and o’s scurrying around following their patterns. The same
text summary of each play is available as in the other mode. It goes
by too fast to read, but can be printed out for later study.
To test the realism of the statistical model, the default Game Plans
were used to play out a full conference schedule. It took only a
couple of evenings to replay the 1990 NFC conference schedule.
NFL Pro League Football passed with flying colors. The strength of
the simulation showed up not so much in the standings as in the
league leader lists, where many of the right names appeared, and
even if they did not, the totals of the league leaders were in line with
the real-world results.
In the replay, the divisional champs were Philadelphia (14-2),
Chicago (9-7), and San Francisco (13-3) — two out of three correct.
As in the real world, Montana and Simms were among the
conference’s leading passers; Byner, Anderson, Sanders and Smith
the leading rushers and Rison, Sharpe, Rice and Ellard the leading
receivers. Chicago and Philadelphia were the leading rushing teams
in the simulation and also in the real world. Other results did not
mimic reality so closely but were still impressive.
Behind the Scenes
The Game Plan feature makes NFL Pro League Football a useful
foundation for a fantasy league, since managers can mail, phone in
or fax their Game Plans to the site where the games are being
played. A full league of 28 teams can be accommodated in this way.
The stats can be saved and studied after each game.
The statistical depth of the simulation is most impressive. A combination
of raw statistics and quality ratings is stored for individuals
and teams. There are good printing capabilities for statistics, standings,
all-time records and league leaders at any point in the replay of
a season. To replay a season, one must set up a league (which can
be an exact copy of a recent NFL year or contain a mixture of teams
from different years).
Some of the menus are not user-friendly, and maneuvering through
the utilities to get the information one wants can be heavy going.
One first has to learn the difference between “Options” and “Preferences”
(and between “Preferences 1” and “Preferences 2”). The socalled
“Auto Update” feature takes too many confusing key-strokes
to be called “Auto.” One has to learn that the correct menu choice
for updating the stats, oddly, is “Don’t Print.” Sometimes one thinks
one is exiting to the main menu but is taken out of the program altogether.
Also, setting up a league can be tricky. Though the game
gives no clue, one has to learn to enter “90” for the year, not
“1990.” Though the screen said that the Escape key would cancel
an incorrect selection of teams, it did not do so on the reviewer’s
copy and the process had to be repeated from the start.
Despite some weaknesses in the interface and uninspiring graphics,
the robust statistical foundation of NFL Pro League Football makes
this an impressive product. The Game Plan feature makes it into a
learning tool with considerable depth. One can get an advanced
education in football strategy by replaying a particular matchup
several times with different strategic choices on the Game Plan. It will
keep flawless records for a fantasy league. Those who live and die
by statistics in a football simulation could not ask for more.