Game 2: 10-yard fight (IREM, 1983)

Playing rules: Difficulty: Factory Default. Timer Speed Between Plays: Normal
Dip switch bank A: 1=ON; 2=OFF [ALWAYS OFF]; 3-8=OFF.
Dip switch bank B: 1=ON/OFF; 2=ON/OFF; 3=OFF; 4=OFF [ALWAYS OFF]; 5=OFF; 6=OFF [ALWAYS OFF].

Current Record holders:
1st: 295,100 - Mike Macy - 1986
2nd: 146,800 - Bobby Holland - 1965
3rd: 121,500 - Giampaolo Quidacciolo - 1985

(I left the 2nd place score out of the original post for some reason – there are only three scores for this game for goodness sakes, what’s that all about? Also, Bobby Holland? What a great name. Shame on me)

Hey! This one is actually a good little game as it happens. Best way to describe it is as a very simplified, offence only (madly pronounced o-fence, what’s with the split?), version of American football. You control the team running up the screen, and essentially you have to reach the top and score a touchtown without any of the opposing Misters nabbing your player or the ball along the way. To keep it all flowing, the game is strictly against the clock – 60 seconds is all you get but you can earn more time as you go by gaining 1st downs.

No Idea what I’m talking about? Touchdowns? 1st downs? Don’t worry, it doesn’t really matter and won’t really stop you enjoying the game – just let it all flow over you in a warm stream of unnecessary knowledge. Actually, that sounds disgusting, just ignore it.

Where were we? Ah yes. You have two buttons, one to pass laterally and one to lob it at the guy who has chosen to sprint off up the pitch. All pretty self explanatory so far, and it’s quite fun running about I have to say. As I’ve mentioned there is no defence (d-fence. Dee-fence. *really*?) part of this game. If you fail on the 4th down for example, pretty much nothing happens – the time taken to fail is punishment enough and you start again seeking those 10 yard gains. If your ball happens to be intercepted, then you simply lose 20 yards and start again. All pretty easy stuff.

So I’ve played it 3 times, as seems to be the best way to get a feel.

First go. Now, I’m no expert on American football, but I *do* know that the players are rarely 20 feet tall. No really, they’re not. No such realism in this game, certainly on the computer’s side anyway – as I find pretty much all of my long passes are intercepted by players in line even though the ball should be about 20 feet in the air at least. Clever stuff. Needless to say, I refuse to believe this is happening and I get nowhere. GAME OVER.

Score: 2,450

ok, I wont fall for that cheap trick again, oh no. Oh yes I will. Arse.

Score: 1,600

Bit more reading needed I think, so I venture online to seek some tips. Time well spent let me tell you! I discover:

– Running out of play stops the clock quicker than being tackled, so try to stay near the edges and run out if it looks like you’re about to be twatted.
– Don’t pass the ball to the top guy unless there is a clear line as they will intercept it (the tall bastards)
– You can pass laterally and then pass again up the field
– Look at the CPU’s formation, they usually lean one way or the other so run accordingly

Right! the game is on, and straight away it pays dividends. I manage to get as close as their 10 yard line right near the end, and the game really is quite fun. I can see this being one to play again for sure.

Score: 10,700

As for the records – I’m nowhere near even the bottom place – I can see why the records have stood so long as it would take some considerable effort to keep this game going – still good fun mind.

Right, here we are again. Have the further passing years made any difference? Well, I must admit – I haven’t played it since I wrote my original post and I certainly haven’t seen a machine in the flesh. Playing it again now – it really is quite a fun game. It took me a while to get back into it, and I had a fair few attempted passes intercepted before I remembered the stupid height thing, but aside from that it was business as usual.

A few things did stand out though this time (oh I am so much more observant in my old age!)

I watch a fair bit of American football, at least catching the annual Superbowl jobbies. Maybe I’m mistaken, but in the real sport don’t they always start in the centre of the pitch at the start of every play? By which I mean width wise (not yardage, that would be silly). Not so in this. You get tackled over by the sidelines and the next play starts around about the same spot. Makes a big difference when the DEEfence choose to line up guarding the inside and your only real option is down the line. Cheating gits.

Add to this the fact that after a few plays the machine decides to quit playing Mr Nice guy and tries to finish your game as soon as it can. The DEEfence becomes more and more intelligent (at least it seems that way) and soon enough you’ll find a defensive blocker tracking your lateral passing options and leaving you a bit stuffed. When this happens *and* you find yourself squashed against the wing then it becomes really rather tricky.

Hey ho, it’s a man’s game and all that, time to man up.

A few more things – took me a while to remember, but I had forgotten that you can choose where the runner runs from at the start of every play by timing when you take the snap (look at me knowing all the terms). Very useful that, stick that tip in your locker, you can have that for free.

Also, let me tell you – these American football lads are NOT in a rush, not the player’s team anyway. I can only assume the football (which you rarely hit with your foot by the way, silly naming people) weighs an absolute ton as the minute you get possession you are the slowest person on the pitch by far. Throw a cracking pass up the pitch and you would be forgiven to assume a bit of breathing space. Not so – almost immediately the DEEfence are up behind you and looking for a rumble. Add to that the fact that 10 yards in this game feels like about 4 screen heights and it really is quite a pedestrian experience.

Finally, I also start to get a feel for how the big scores are made. A little known fact (very well hidden in the real sport clearly) is that it is next to impossible to be tackled by a single man unless he’s diving, who knew? You try it and see. All it takes to foil a solitary tackle attempt is a couple of waggles of the hips (or in our case joystick) and you’re free to run on as the defender falls harmlessly to the floor. Every single time. Get two people tackling at once though? Different story entirely – down like a sack of shit.

This leads me to believe that a player with a super waggly skill will be able to manoeuvre their way out of the majority of tackles and therefore make the game much much easier. As it happens, back when I played this in 2007 I remember using my X-Arcade a few times and found it considerably easier to waggle free of tackles. Worth bearing in mind if you’re struggling.

Another skill that may make a difference – there are opportunities to use blocking players (in formation that follow your movements) from kick offs etc… Good use of them will also help I’m sure.

Combine those skills with a good knowledge of how best to play the various formations and I wouldn’t be surprised if the top scores become one of endurance rather than skill (i.e. potentially infinite and only restricted by how long you can physically play it).

Needless to say, I am still without those skills, and my best score from this batch of games was just under 20,000. What a nonsense I continue to be….:)

13 thoughts on “Game 2: 10-yard fight (IREM, 1983)

  1. Oh yes, great game.. played a lot of this “back in the day”, haven’t seen a cabinet of this in years. I would imagine the game to be easier to play with a cab, since if you rattled the joystick, you could shake off tacklers and get further down the field.

    I’ll give this a shot in MAME and see if I can remember any other tips..

  2. I’m going to have a look at this, I love a good American Football game, ever since we had a game for DOS called NFL by XOR at college in 1987.

  3. Give it a shot Ely.. it’s quite campy and not all that difficult to learn.. use your blockers to tie up would be tacklers.. try a lateral pass(pass to the side) and then fire a long bomb..

  4. Woo! Finally got a touchdown – finished with a score of 17,100 – which while being a bit rubbish is a good improvement!

  5. 38,500 is my best so far but I know I could go better. Just don’t want to spend too much time on one game though.

    I’ll also put this into my ‘re-play’ list of games as it’s got potential to eat up a lot of time!

  6. In American football, the ball is spotted based on where it was when the previous play ended. I don’t remember the particulars, the important bit is those two vertical lines of horizontal marks (stay with me now) that you see running parallel to each other in the screenshots are the “hash marks”, which is where the ball is spotted if the previous play ended off to one side or the other. Just to make things a bit more complicated, they’re further apart in college football as opposed to the pro game.

  7. You lost me with the vertical horizontal marks, but hey – you learn something everyday. I was sure they always started in the middle, can’t say I had noticed it being more to one side than the other.

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