- Pigskin 621 A.D. -




DVD of the Week

Pigskin 621 A.D. - October 11, '99 by Dorsola
Game:Pigskin 621 A.D.Company:Bally Midway

I'm not usually into sports games. Most of the time, they're either too fast-paced or too boring, and I'm not really into reproducing the rules of baseball, football, basketball, etc. Most of the time, sports games end up being more of a glitzy eye-candy thing, or they're so darned accurate that they cease to be FUN.
Not this time, though. Bally-Midway created a sports game just for people like me: Pigskin 621 A.D. It's kinda like Australian-Rules Football, but it's even better: IT HAS NO RULES! MUAHAHAHA! This game is set in medieval times (Um... Lemme guess: 621 A.D.? :). The objective is to run or pass the pigskin into your end-zone. But, unlike real football, there are no downs, there are no illegal maneuvers, and in fact, your team benefits by tripping, punching, maiming or even killing members of the opposite team! In addition, the field is just LITTERED with haystacks, trees, bookshelves, tables, statues, trap doors, puddles, and all sorts of other objects, as well as handy weapons. You control your team's leader.
Score 6 points for a touchdown, and if you can keep possession of the ball long enough, you score extra points. You also have several different team strategies to choose from - you can change them on the fly - and among them is the "Bad Attitude" strategy, where your secondary objective becomes simply to get into fights with the other team. Add in some deliberately stupid AI (players running into trees and tripping over each other) and some goofy music, and you've got yourself an incredibly funny game. :)
The graphics in this game are detailed enough to keep from seeming too simplistic. The backgrounds and "cut-scenes" (when you score points, you're shown a view of your manager, the other team's manager, or the cheerleading squad for either team) are drawn in low resolution, but all the players and important objects are hi-res - the combination of the two does a surprisingly good job of focusing your attention on the action. Overall, pretty good.
Sound: Yikes! The music is WAY too loud! It overdrives the sound chips in the original hardware and distorts badly in MAME. Ugh. The music, in addition to being incredibly loud even at low volumes, tends to really grate on you after a while - it's repetitive, and the music you hear when you or the other team scores a touchdown is really really poor. Fortunately, they make up for this with some good sound effects and high-quality recorded voice samples ("AAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaah!", "Oof!", "Pass it here!", etc...). So, mixed review on the sound stuff. As of this writing, however, those voices weren't emulated or sampled. :(
Controls are pretty good - your standard joystick and four buttons (one for punching, two for passing, and one for changing strategy). They cross over to MAME pretty nicely. The biggest nuisance with the controls (and granted, this was deliberate) is that your character is really hard to control at times - he can run into a pole or something and then KEEP running into it over and over again if you don't take care to back him out of the spot he's in. Other than that, I have no complaints. :)
This game is pretty addicting, simply because it's so fun to play. The only other major complaint about it is that it will require a faster computer to play properly - the game will perform as much as twice as fast as normal on my Celeron 500, but based on previous benchmarks, that means on a P233/MMX, it'll be running at about half the speed that it should. This is unfortunate, but this is hopefully only because its emulation still has a ways to go yet. If you can live with that, then I HIGHLY recommend this game. Play it... as if your life depended on it!
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1999 EmuViews