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Joe Montana Football (Master System)


Company: Sega
Year: 1990
Plataform: Sega Master System
Controller: Console default controller.


Beginnings of the 90s, it’s true than the videogame companies invested more in 16bit consoles instead of the 8bit ones, but the latter was still a profitable market.

Sega, which already has successful entries like Joe Montana Football, about american football in their flagship console (at the time) the Génesis (or Megadrive) tries to launch a title about this sport for others of their consoles.

It’s interesting that for these particular ports, the control schema, alongside the playability of the game is notoriously different. We’re meaning that there are more changes than the usual when porting a videogame from a console to an earlier one, but not enough to consider the game a different one with the same name.


Getting ready to launch an offensive to the rival.

The videogame features a vertical perspective of an american football field, closer to a game from the competence, instead of the horizontal one used in the original game.

Aside from that, elements of contemporary american football videogames are strill present, like selecting the play from a playbook, even when these plays have… unorthodox names when compared to the more traditional ones.

Montana’s recommendations are still present, and when applying it at the offensive can bring satisfactory results.

When selecting a run play, the quarterback gives the ball automatically to the runner. When selecting a passing play, with a button the videoplayer can change receivers and with the other button releases the pass. I guess the console hardware was not able to bring the quarterback’s view, like the original game.


We find here another significant difference when compared to the original game: The same amount of teams that NFL had at the time, not only 16. Only the cities names, because the game lacked the license to use the full teams’ names.

These are the most significant changes:

  • New York teams appear as “New York A” for the AFC (ie, Jets) and “New York N” for the NFC (ie, Giants)
  • Los Angeles Raiders, appear as Los Angeles.
  • Los Angeles Rams, appear as Anaheim.

Regardless of the team chosen, the one used by the videoplayer appears with red uniform. The rival used by a second videoplayer or the AI, will sport a blue uniform.


Sega Game Gear

Can the kick be blocked?

If you consider that the Game Gear is a Master System portable, it was reasonable to expect that the port of any game would be identical.

In my opinion, the game is incredibly well adapted, considering that the Game Gear screen was not exactly big.

The interface and control schema are practically the same in the Game Gear and the Master System ones. Which was a common feature at the time.

Aside from a slightly different screen when selecting plays, and the size of the font used for the yards at the american football field and the game feels easier, I was not able to detect significant differences between the two ports.

DOS Computers

Let’s hope I selected the proper play.

It’s unusual to find Sega videogames in platforms not owned by the company, and that is including computers. If we take into account that computers at the time, they had considerably better hardware specs than the 8bit consoles, so it’s logical to expect better and/or new features.

The more fanciful ones are the graphics, which are more fluid. Also, the teams sports distintct uniforms, even when these are not the ones used by their real-life counterparts. Also the view at the field has a slight diagonal inclinaton that gives a sensation of deep.

Another detail is that the videogame has more features, like a radically distinct screen to make extra point or field goal kicks. Also practice mode for plays and punts, and last, the names of plays ressemble the more traditional ones. Like there was an effort to give a more serious impression of the videogame.

The control schema at the offensive is funny, but let’s take into account that when developing a videogame for computers using the keyboard as an input entry, just as using a controller, must be considered. In this particular case, first the virtual athlete is selected before snaping the play, and that athlete is controlled by the videoplayer.

Trying to figure out how to break the rival defense.

When choosing to use the quarterback, this implies to press the button to release the ball either to a runner, or to a receiver. If you choose a receiver, the videoplayer must move it to get a clear shot, and with the button asking the ball.

Interestingly, this videogame was already compatible to use with two-button joysticks, which where not common at the begging of the 90s.

Even in 1990, even when DOS computers were improving, and being more capable as time passed by to handle videogames, these had to be compatible with older video screens which were capable to only handle 4 colors. in this link you can get a glimpse at how the videogame looked when running in one of those screens.

The default configuration of DOSBox is enough to play this videogame.


There no were sequels to these consoles. However, there was one for the Genesis, which is funny, because that game was more similar to these ones for Game Gear and Master System, than the original for Genesis.

I think the main reason was to distinguish the game from the rising star Madden.


Nice marketing in the crowd.

These ports are interesting to a certain degree, because they already had nothing to offer that 16bits games lacked. Even when comparing to 8bit games.

In my opinion, the fact that the games are simple enough to play at a first try, can be a positive factor for anyone who wants to start playing american football videogames, but can become boring for their lack of new elements, to more seasoned ones.

The PC port can be consideres a bit more innovatie, but not much more than that.

Recomended for a quick match on the Sega ports. For the DOS ones, it’s mandatory to accustom yourself a bit with the schema control, but once understood, the game can become really good.


Sport Icon designed by Smashicons of FlatIcon licensed by CC 3.0 BY.

Console Icons taken from Retroarch.

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