Gridiron gaming greatness on the iPhone

Sep 12, 2010
Games

Football gaming on the iPhone has come a long way in the past two years, from a collection of football-based mini-games that left plenty to be desired to multiple full football games. There are even games like Backbreaker Football that don’t need to provide 11-on-11 action to be awesome. I’ve spoken at length about Madden […]

Football gaming on the iPhone has come a long way in the past two years, from a collection of football-based mini-games that left plenty to be desired to multiple full football games. There are even games like Backbreaker Football that don’t need to provide 11-on-11 action to be awesome. I’ve spoken at length about Madden NFL 11 by EA Sports, and by now you should know if you want the best football experience, that’s where you should go. But there are a number of other enticing choices for those of you who want more.

NFL 2011

Competition is a good thing, at least for consumers. Gameloft dropped the price of NFL 2011 to 99 cents to combat the release of Madden NFL 11, and predictably the game shot up the iTunes paid games list. Now back at its regular price of $4.99 the game isn’t doing as well on the charts, but it remains the most all-around competent challenger to the EA title. I’m a fan of its graphics, and this is an officially licensed release with real players and teams. The controls aren’t really better or worse than Madden – just different. But the lack of any kind of multiplayer feature and fewer team management options (such as no trading) are big negatives for an otherwise solid release. I believe the market has spoken, and Madden is the clear winner of best football game for 2010, though that’s not to say NFL 11 isn’t without its charm.

Backbreaker Football

It’s been almost a year since Backbreaker came to the app store, and despite the introduction of competition in the form of full football simulations and the lackluster debut of a console version of the game, this remains a must-own football game on the iPhone. Even though it might be a bit long in the tooth, the game remains the best-looking football title on the device – if not the best-looking sports game period. NaturalMotion also continues to update the game, with the latest update making graphical improvements to the game and adding a new end-zone celebration. If you’re one of the few who hasn’t tried Backbreaker, hopefully you got it this weekend when it went free for a limited time. If not, the regular cost is only 99 cents, and it’s a steal at that price.

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NCAA Football by EA Sports

NCAA Football by EA Sports ($4.99) might have many things in common with EA’s pro football titan, but the debut of this series on the iPhone isn’t exactly perfect. As far as the graphics and gameplay go, anyone who’s played either Madden app should have a good idea of what to expect. Furthermore, multiplayer is included (via Bluetooth only), and the very cool create-a-team feature from the console version has made its way to this release as well. So what’s not perfect about this game? Well, there are only 55 teams, so you’re not getting a true college football experience when playing through a season, and many fans will be left without the ability to play with their favorite team. I’m sure getting all 100-plus FBS schools into a game with limited memory availability isn’t the easiest thing, but EA can’t be shocked that some people are unhappy about this. Still, NCAA Football is the only game of its kind, and a nice app to boot, just not a flawless one.

Flick Kick Field Goal

Those looking for an app version of paper football have no shortage of options, with PikPok’s Flick Kick Field Goal (99 cents) having established itself as one of the best. While the gameplay mechanics might be the same as its paper football counterparts, the game does make an effort to provide a semi-realistic football experience. That means you’ll have to compensate for wind, and kick from different spots on the field. There are four game modes, with the highlight being an arcade mode in which you take three kicks from eight different spots on the field. There’s even an effort at putting some replay value in this game, with achievements and an OpenFeint leader board. While it might not be anything groundbreaking, it’s a nice-enough game that gives you what you’d expect.

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LED Football 2

I was fortunate enough to grow up with Tecmo Bowl and the earliest incarnations of Madden, so I don’t really get the whole LED football thing. That’s not to say I don’t understand there are those of you who do, though, hence why I’m using the space to talk about LED Football 2 (99 cents). Based on the 1979 Mattel Electronic Football 2 game, the app makes a serious effort to bring the original experience to your iPhone. A replica of the game fills your screen, with a pass button, kick button and four directional run buttons, as well as the iconic football field with LED players. There’s also LED Football (99 cents), which is based on the 1978 version of the game. You can’t compare this game with others I mention here, but it does have a certain nostalgic appeal that is nearly unmatched.

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David Lister

David Lister is a freelance writer in Chicago. He is a former editor and writer at the NationalSportsReview.com and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. 

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