Company: Electronic Arts
Platform: Sega Genesis (Megadrive)
Controller: Console default controller.
During the 90s, Electronic Arts is making a name of itself as an outstandish videogame developer company. Being the home console Genesis (known as Megadrive in Europe) a great partner in this endeavour.
It’s true that the game John Madden Football became a true classic with the simulation of pro teams, but the college football also has a great fanbase in the land of the stars and stripes. EA saw an opportunity in that field.
Electronic Arts is not able to get the NCAA’s official license, the organization that rules the college sports in the United States of America. Instead, they can get the license to use the name of legendary coach Bill Walsh, and it’s able to develop a videogame about college football.
The college football season has its own particular mechanisms, and given the lack (at the time when the videogame was developed) of play-offs, it’s understable that the videogame does not have a regular season mode. Which it’s a shame, because competing trying to get at the Top-25 ranking would have been an interesting feature.
But if getting the NCAA license was hard, getting one for using the license of Bowls (matches considered of post-season to reward teams which had good seasons) was even harder. So, the videogame only has three modes:
- Exhibition: all the teams are available, and it’s possible to select any combination of teams in a match.
- Playoffs: pre-arranged matches between teams of 1992.
- Playoffs históricos: pre-arranged matches between historical teams.
The control schema is practically the same as the one of Madden, which is already described in its own post. Sans one different feature.
This videogame introduces a view of three small windows at the topo of the screen for passes, which it was itself a feature of Joe Montana Football for this same console. But something that it was already notorious in the Montana game, it’s more obvious in this one.
And it’s really hard to see if the receivers are really open. I agree that it’s really close at what a quarterback sees in a real match. But in a videogame, can be really frustating, specially when the videoplayer is getting accustomed to the game. Specially if the virtual deffensive players are really good, and IMHO faster than the ones controlled by the videoplayer.
24 teams from the 1992 NCAA Collefe Football season are available to the videoplayer to choose from. Also 24 historical teams (well, Washington and Colorado are from a couple of years prior to 1992) showcasing which year the roster is based of. But, lacking the license to use the names of the NCAA teams (Sega had it), well if the team has exactly the same name of the state where the college is located (Michigan, Alabama), there is no problem at all.
But in other cases, it appears the name of the city, so having knowledge of either the city where the team plays and/or the uniform colors (Which BTW are really close to the ones used in real life) it really helps a lot to identify the team. Examples of this situations are the teams of Notre Dame, Brigham Young and Florida State, popular teams and/or powerhouses at the time, appears in this way.
And yes, it’s possible to play with Auburn and the awesome Bo Jackson. As expected, you play Auburn 83 with a heavy running game. Remember that each team has pros and cons, just like in real life. Good luck playing with Hawaii.
Sega Mega CD
Originally the videogame appeared for this platform. It amazes me that this platform with greater graphics capacity, there is not a significant difference between this port and the one for Genesis.
Also it was a bit disappointing that the same teams were also available, considering that the Sega CD has an improved storage capacity. However, this capacity was used to store videoclips of Bill Walsh. I theorize that there were plans to porting the game to the Genesis since the beginning, and it’s easier to drop the videos instead of choosing teams.
Even if the graphics are not notoriously improved, the animations are really outstanding. And the sound is wonderful. If you choose a match between two hated rivals like Michigan vs Ohio State (Columbus in the game), you can feel the pressure from the crowd if the videoplayer chose the local or the visiting team.
Nintendo Super NES
Electronic Arts of course would try to sell as many copies of the game as possible. Putting the remarkable success of the titles in the Sega consoles, many people in North America had the main rival console, in this case, the Super Nintendo. So, a port for this console was mandatory in the quest of selling copies.
It catches my eye some features, like the team selection screen with customized signs for each team. The animations are a bit different when compared to the ones of the Genesis, and IMO a bit inferior. Even the difficult level was easier.
This last situation can be due to being this port the last one I played, so, by then, I probably would have got more accustomed to playing the videogame and I performed better than in the Sega consoles.
The videogame only had a sequel, Bill Walsh College Football ‘95. Only for the MegaDrive console.
Now, let’s consider that Sega also developed a game with the title College Football’s National Championship (probably it will have its own post in the future), which had the official license to use the NCAA name. Also, the control schema was too similar to the one used in this videogame.
By 1996, Sega do not continue to develop that franchise and do not renew the NCAA (and college names) license. In that situation, Electronic Arts did not renew Bill Walsh’s one, and got the NCAA one.
The following games appeared with the NCAA license, and are considered sequels of this videogame.
Surprisingly funny game. It feels like a Madden, and it’s logical, because it’s made from the same developing company, and it’s normal to repeat a successful formula.
To me, that’s the main problem. It looks too much like Madden. And outside United States of America, the college football has a smaller fanbase. So, a person who would like to play an american football videogame would buy first a NFL one instead of a NCAA one.
At the same time, being too similar to Madden can be described as a success, because if you know Madden, you can play this videogame with not much trouble and can realize quick matches in no time.
The historical selection of teams, even if really 80s-loaded, is a really high plus for nostalgic reasons.
Console Icons taken from Retroarch.
Sport Icon designed by Smashicons of FlatIcon licensed by CC 3.0 BY.
Ícono de consola creado por Ciro Alfredo Consentino para el programa EmuLoader.
Íconos de consolas tomados de Retroarch.