Review: Mutant Football League: Dynasty Edition (Switch)

Arcade football arrives on Switch!

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 02/01/2019 06:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Slick presentation; clever team and player names; fairly solid take on football
Poison Mushroom for...
Dirty Tricks are annoying more often than not; the commentators are eye-roll worthy at best, offensive at worst; the game would have been stronger with a T-rating

When it comes to sports video games, I’ve always been more interested in those that are more arcade-oriented. Games like Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey and NHL Hitz were always more interesting to me than EA Sports’ yearly offerings. Unfortunately, those options are few and far between these days, with EA now holding exclusive licensing rights to most of the professional sports leagues. Fortunately, those contracts don’t cover parodies, allowing Digital Dreams Entertainment to create Mutant Football League: Dynasty Edition. The title follows in that old-school trend of arcade style sports games, but with an M-rated take on the genre.

Despite the lack of license, NFL fans will immediately find quite a bit familiar about Mutant Football League; the title truly embraces its status as a parody of American football. Most of the 25 teams available on the game card are direct riffs on existing NFL franchises (no sign of my beloved Buffalo Bills, sadly) and there are even variations on popular players, such as “Drew Sleaze.” This week also saw the addition of two more teams via DLC. Regardless of which team you play as, Digital Dreams Entertainment has really done an impressive job of creating a world that feels well thought out, with even the stadiums playing up the game’s inherent silliness.

For the most part, Mutant Football League does play like the actual sport itself. Players select from a number of different plays in an attempt to march down the field and score. While this is difficult enough in the NFL, the MFL kicks it up a notch with on-field hazards and “Dirty Tricks” exclusive to each team, such as lighting your own players on fire so they can’t be tackled, or making the ball sticky so it can’t be thrown. Unfortunately, those Dirty Tricks can really hurt the game’s pacing. It’s insanely frustrating to score a touchdown only to have your hard-earned 7 points wiped off the board because the opposing team bribed the referee. Anyone that has ever found stolen stars in Mario Party to be frustrating will definitely want to steer clear of Mutant Football League.

Between each half, the game offers an optional “half time show.” During the festivities, a player on the team is pursued by a group of rampaging referees with the player forced to evade them and search for bullets in order to survive. It would have been nice if the top-down minigame could be selected from the main menu, or if there were a little more to it. As it is, Referee Rampage makes for little more than a minor distraction, but it is a nice way to break up the action.

The most confounding thing about Mutant Football League is the fact that the game doesn’t seem to know what audience it’s targeting. While players are regularly killed on the field, the deaths themselves are fairly innocuous as there isn’t a lot of violence that appears on-screen (outside of what fans would normally see in football). The title’s M-rating is mostly earned through the commentary of Derek Dziak and NBA Jam‘s Tim Kitzrow. The two revel in the game’s rating with comments focused on erectile dysfunction, brothels and more. With anyone under the age of 18 (theoretically) barred from playing the game, and no other football offerings on Switch as of this writing, it seems like the developer really alienated a lot of potential players by going this route. Adding insult to injury, the sophomoric humor seems to hinder the experience much more than it helps it; very few of the jokes land, and some players might even find themselves offended by them. There is an option to turn off the game’s mature language and gore, but this doesn’t magically change the game’s rating, which will likely turn off parents right off the bat. Additionally, while mature language can be disabled, it can’t be turned off for the game’s Dynasty Mode.

Outside of the game’s rating, there’s also another proverbial elephant in the room when it comes to Mutant Football League: a game where athletes routinely die from their injuries just isn’t as humorous a concept today as it was when Mutant League Football released on Sega Genesis back in 1993. With everything that’s been revealed about the long-term impact of injuries related to the sport, it feels a little weird to play a game that seems to delight in that aspect of the sport. Perhaps it would be a bit more amusing if there was some hint of a satirical message, but MFL doesn’t have that kind of depth, especially since each dead player can simply be resurrected between each match.

If you take out the game’s Dirty Tricks, on-field murders and hazards on the turf, Mutant Football League is a pretty faithful football game at its core. With EA’s Madden franchise absent on Switch, MFL is the only game in town for fans of American football. Despite the game’s crude commentary, it can be an enjoyable experience, and there is a lot to enjoy from the game’s terrific presentation. Those who dread skill being undermined by luck may find the game a tad bit frustrating, however.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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