Title Gridiron! Company Bethesda Softworks Game Type Sport Players 1 or 2 Compatibility All (but speed sensitive) Submission firstname.lastname@example.org Review The background: Being both a football (Go Vikings!) and Amiga fanatic, I have always been surprised at the lack of quality fottball computer games for the platform. I'd played John Madden Football and others, and while each had a certain amount of charm inherent in each product, no one would seriously claim the game was a real depiction of a football game. On the Amiga the problem was especially acute because to most Amiga users "football" became known as "soccer" due to the plethora of European titles coded. Don't get me wrong, other platforms have had the same problem. Even the vaunted "Front Page 9X" series, the PC-based John Madden version, Terry Bradshaw's attempt, "Un-Necessary Roughness" all fail the same test...the game feels like a combo spreadsheet-database-arcade game, but not football. In fact, until I played "Gridiron!" the closet to a real football feel was the old Commodore 64 game from Avalon Hill, "Super Sunday". Couldn't someone make the equivalent for the Amiga ? Well someone did. Bethesda Softworks ran an ad for beta testers which I answered. Here's a review of the product. The review: Gridiron! takes a different approach from almost ALL other football games. The others concentrate on the graphics, (a recent John Madden TV commercial focused exclusively on the different ways the players danced after scoring TD's) while Gridiron! focused on realism in PHYSICS! That's right, physics. The players were merely dots...watching the game is kind of like watching an "X's and O's" coaching diagram come to life. But in this game the "dots" have mass and speed components...a Fullback with a lot of strength (i.e mass and momemtum) can break a lot more tackles than a Halfback. When this happens the players (dots) actually bounce off each other the way real players do. (Just watch the next time Jerome Bettis gets up a head of steam and a cornerback tries to stop him.) Wideouts with great speed can blow by the cornerbacks, Defensive Ends with more speed get more sacks. So, I looked at the dots the first time I got the game and was completely disappointed...until I played it. Each player, while running a route predetermined by the playbook, had immediate reactions. It seemed like each player had their own AI (artificial intelligence) that, (hold on to your hats...) KNEW football, and where they should be. Incredible. The players reacted to the even same play repeated slightly differently each time, dependent upon timing....just like a real player would. It seemed Gridiron's programmers had played the game themselves. Ok, so the graphics are rudimentary, and the gameplay excellent. What else ? Well, its very important to know that the game speeds up on accelerated Amiga's (i.e. anything above a 7.6 mHz 68000). On my A3000 (25mHz) I have to play at a slower speed than normal. 'Degrader' supposedly fixes this but I have not tried it. The playbook editor is pretty good, and you can save 20 playbooks to a disk. You can even switch playbooks in the middle of a game, on each play if you'd like. The player editor can change player ratings in both SPEED and STRENGTH (rated at 0-20 with 20 being All-Pro) and the editor can save 20 teams per disk. There is no league play per se, each game occurs in its own world. This world is populated by mice...you play Gridiron! with a mouse because of the extremely fine control the programmers have given you over your players. You play by selecting a player on defense (left clicking) and you get the QB on offense at the start of each play, then switch to receiver or running back depending upon the play calls for. Mouse control is excellent and far superior to joystick or keyboard control which are also offered. What's really neat is that the game supports TWO mice so that your opponent has an equal control ability. There are two known versions of the game: 1.0 loads completely into RAM (1 meg required) and 1.2 (I think) includes three screens of animation which require disk access...the cheesy animation screens depict players spiking the ball after TD's and of a drunk passed out at the end of the game in the bleachers. The animations do nothing to enhance the game, however the revised version seems much more stable than the first, and has a better intro. Gridiron! will never be confused with the 3D-Nintendo-type football games that are the rage now. However, if you either like the retro feel of old games like Defender, or Star Wars or even Defender of the Crown, or if you just want to PLAY football on a computer you'll love this. My wish list on this would have been to include a "season" option to play up to the Super Bowl, to have named players like "Chris Doleman" instead of "DLE", and to have more choices to edit besides strength and speed. But maybe all of these would have eliminated the inherent charm of this game...it is football. I'll take it the way it is.