Awful Moments in Multiplayer Gaming: TV Sports Football (TurboGrafx-16)

You have to wonder if something is wrong with your copy of TV Sports Football when you first start playing. You are presented with a game screen filled with football players doing nothing… literally. Everything is still. Out of nowhere comes a football from the top of the screen, and off you go. No coin toss, no cinematic kick-off, no power meters. Just a random football.

So, you catch it as your player flashes purple and you start running up the field, with a slight problem. The field does not scroll until you are nearly at the top, completely preventing you from seeing any incoming tacklers. Since the AI features some revolutionary (not really) “lock-on” tactics, you’re screwed. It is actually easier to fake out a human opponent since they cannot read your actions the second you flick the d-pad.

You have made it to the 30, and decide to be bold, passing on the first play. You find something that looks good, the voices signaling when the ball will be snapped (“Red 44!”), and you’re off. No one is open, so you wait for someone to find the obvious hole in the middle of the field and then… a whistle? Offensive holding. See, the AI could not figure out how to go around the robotic, static linemen and chose to simply stand there, waiting for you to throw to non-open receivers. Instead of simply running down the clock, you are accessed a penalty.

Trying this again with a different play, you drop back and someone becomes open. Since there are only two buttons on the controller, the designers found it necessary to aim your passes. Pressing left and right makes your QB turn at the hip, designating where the pass will go. Power is dictated purely by how long you hold A. In other words, if an interception is a possibility, just keep holding the button and it will fly past. That is assuming you have the aim down, which is hardly “pick up and play” material.

That likely failed miserably too, leaving you with a third and 15. Fine. We’ll confuse the defense and run it, since passing is a moot point. You snap it, hand it off, and the lineman magically make a massive gap for you to pass through. You go up the middle, only to be slaughtered by the defender who had a lock on you the second you snapped the ball. How fun.

Maybe it is the team? Maybe the Hounds don’t have what it takes, so you select the Sharks and try again. Announcer Turk McGill sets the game up, and… everything turns out the same.

The entire line of TV Sports games existed for the sole purpose of being impressive visually. Every game, Basketball and Hockey included on the Turbo (Boxing on various home computers), featured vivid cutscenes loaded with giant sprites, perfect for box shots and advertisements, if not much else. Every game was stiff and sluggish, although none more so than Football.