NES Play Action Football


Title screen. Nice pixel artistry.

“The “American football simulator” had a fair share of entries on the NES library, and this is neither the worst nor the best, but as mentioned before, presents a solid option for those seeking some digital pigskin action.”
– from the full review, which you can read here.

When you hear “NES football,” you probably think “Tecmo Bowl.”

Run, run, run!

Breaking away.

Which is probably how it should be, since those games are the best example of American football on the console. But if you are truly an old-school football game junkie, and have not tried Play Action, give it a shot. Some people will never get used to the diagonal field and quirky feel of the game (try a dive on offense, watch the game revert to bullet time), but in terms of competitive balance and mechanical solidarity, this is a decent simulation, and plenty of fun can be had tooling around on it. For one thing, the teams are much more even, and it is nice to actually see them rated on things like Speed and Hands and Accuracy, etc.

And as long as we are giving things a second look, check out the list of games released by TOSE. Perhaps they do not belong in the same consideration of Konami, Capcom, and Sunsoft, but they liked to pump out decent sports titles, and even outliers like Toxic Crusaders and Demon Sword. They have an intertwining history with near-greatness, and make for an interesting case study, worth a thought and an occasional mention as a company.


Dive at the goal line replay.

I was one of those equal-opportunity kids who grew up with access to both NES Play Action Football and the Tecmo Bowl games. While Tecmo definitely gave their games a livelier, more arcade-like feel, I still busted out Play Action for the occasional session. I have not yet had the pleasure of trying it with three friends, but would love to someday. It is a fine game, even if you might see your two quarterbacks each go out on a stretcher three times in a ridiculously injury-heavy game (I have a witness to that game, and am not exaggerating when I say each quarterback individually went off the field multiple times – craziness!).

Read The Full Review For: A breakdown of what makes NES Play Action Football unique yet not outstanding, occupying a strange place in the NES library.

Multiple screens offered, A+B scrolls through.

Example of play selection at work.

NES Gameplay Tips for NES Play Action Football: Besides the usual football tips, and the simple time it takes to master nuances such as kicking, remember that for this game, it is not really a case of some plays being much better than others, but finding your own unique style (on both offense and defense) and mastering the execution. For example, I like to run the Counter play on offense — but rather than hand off, use it as a quarterback sneak. If the QB has a decent speed rating, not only does this play usually pick up a first down against the CPU, but can really throw off a human opponent to (at least, one not expecting the quarterback to suddenly break out for a run). On defense, I do not know if this is a good tip, but this is what I usually end up doing on an average play: On the default guy, I will go for a sack; but the key is, once my man is contested, I switch to someone else if a closer option is available and bum-rush the QB from there, repeating one or two more times if necessary (and time allows). If it is a run, I can stuff it early or switch to a guy to take care of it, if I pick a play with decent coverage; but if the quarterback does manage to get the pass off, it’s all about picking a guy downfield is making a jump for the interception. Getting interceptions in this game is not as easy as some others, but can definitely be done at a decent clip, and can make a human player very nervous if you pull down a couple in the first half, forcing them to play a bit more conservatively and get in their head as well.


Pass to the end zone!

One Response to “ NES Play Action Football ”

  1. […] & Warriors II: Ironsword, Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt, Ice Hockey, Double Dribble, Tiger-Heli, NES Play Action Football, Golf, Bases Loaded (in both label variants), Fester’s Quest, Track & Field II, Tetris, […]

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