Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Brief History of College Football Video Games!

Ah, the lull of the off season continues. News travels slowly. Patience runs thin. At times like this, I, like Dave, turn to college football video games to temporarily satisfy the craving for gridiron action. While I only really got into these games back in the early 2000's, I thought it would be interesting to chart the history of this insanely addictive, mentally degenerating, socially debilitating, girlfriend alienating, work-ruining pastime that is college football video gaming. Thus, without further a-do, a-hem....



From what I can gather, it all began in 1993. (The Cowbell Commander was just a mere third-grader at this point!) That year, Bill Walsh, inventor of the West Coast offense, slapped his name on EA's first college football game, Bill Walsh College Football. Apparently this game was pretty good for it's time. But looking back now, the game seems...primitive. Look at this screen shot below!

The USF Buffaloes vs Florida State, complete with Burning Spear.


Bill Walsh College Football did so well, EA decided to make a sequel: Bill Walsh College Football '95. This marks the beginning of the era of EA cranking out a decent college football game each year for the next million zillion years.

Looks to be Florida State vs. NCU

1994 also blessed the world with the aptly-named NCAA Football. Developed by Software Toolworks, this title franchise would only have one season under its belt. Why? IT SUCKED!

The peasants revolt against the crappiness of this horrible game.

But all was not lost in 1994. Sega Sports produced College Football National Championship. Notwithstanding the boring game title, this game did well with fans. It would produce a sequel the next year. The graphics were not bad for 1994, as shown by the actual screen shot below.

Tupac? Dead. College football video games? Alive.


1995 kicked off with College Football National Champtionship II. Re-tooled with a slightly less cartoonish look, this would be the final chapter in this decent series from Sega. Things were only starting to heat up in the world of college football video gaming...

I can't even begin to guess the teams here...

In 1995, EA said "sayonara" to Bill Walsh and rebranded their series "College Football USA '96." Unfortunately, I could not find a screenshot for this one. Furthermore, according to Gamespot, there were no other college football games produced in 1996. Weird! Maybe this game was so good, no other games were necessary.

Another year, another EA college football game. College Football USA '97 introduced the helmet-view cam, which was a cool concept but was not really an effective game play feature.

The first person perspective of a Bama/Tennessee coin toss.


Behold! The beginning of civilization as we know it. NCAA Football '98 started the current incarnation of the EA college football franchise. Compared to EA NCAA football titles from the past, this one was light years ahead. All the teams. All the stadiums. All the fight songs. But, compared to the games of the future, NCAA 98 would seem almost incomplete. Aside from the normal exhibition mode, the only special mode was "season mode."

NCU: Lots of screen shot love.


Who's that handsome devil on the cover of NCAA Football '99? None other than Michigan's own Charles Woodson! This is basiscally the same game as NCAA Football '98 with the addition of unbeatable defensive players, a playbook editor, and a dynasty mode.

Is that Michigan Stadium? Looks to be the boys in blue!


Same old, same old. This time, they entered the D1 AA teams. Yippee. We all bought it anyway, because NCAA Football 2000 satisfied our urges for college football whenever we wanted it in 1999.

Ref bitch slapping feature? Cowbell Commander likey.


NCAA Football 2001. If you bought '98, '99, and 2000, you bought this one too. EA's NCAA Football series is officially declared to be more addictive than crack.

Some Texan is about to get they ass whooped.

What's that? A bird? A plane? No! It's NCAA Football 2002. This was one of the first football games on the PS2, and all the dual-control stick action and the addition of all the new action buttons was somewhat disorienting for some players. Nevertheless, we played it obsessively and were beating the computer by at least 5 touchdowns a game within the first day.

Realistic graphics take a sharp turn for the better.

Whoa - wait! Somebody actually tried to compete with EA? That's right. While Sega seemingly benched it's college football franchise for a few years, it brought in a new stud in 2001 - NCAA Football 2K2: Road to the Rose Bowl. This game was great to play, looked awesome (even thought the players looked a little rectangular...), and was worth buying if only for getting a fresh take on the play by play commentary. Those EA guys said the same stuff every year!

Look at the perfectly formed pixelated buttocks on #65. Now THAT'S detail.


Like cattle to the slaughter, we all marched out and bought this one. EA pushed out NCAA Football 2003, and it was fun for the year. The offseason features of the dynasty mode really developed in this installment of the series.


Even though Sega threw a legitimate hat in the ring, EA would dominate in sales and Sega would bow out gracefully with its dignity from the college football franchise race. NCAA College Football 2k3 would be the final installment of Sega's college football series. The play selection in this game was more advanced than EA's, and the commentary on the field from the players taunting each other kept things really realistic.

Beating the Irish looks great in this game.


There's not much to be said about this one. We came, we saw, we conquered. NCAA Football 2004. It added the semi-useless "College Classics" feature, where you have one chance to complete a famous play"The Play" before you have to wait two minutes for the game to load again. Hey, where'd that cool retro mode go? I liked playing with the old school uniforms!

23 Skidoo! Hut hut hut!


NCAA Football 2005 introduced the home field advantage feature, which gave players a chance to get tendentious much faster than in previous editions of the game. Remember the sore thumbs we got as we all mashed the controllers hoping to screw up the opposing offenses in our home stadiums by making our fans cheer louder? I still haven't recovered from this. Other than that...same dependable EA fun.

Look at that realistic grimace on the ugly mug of that Buckeye!


NCAA Football 2006 featured Desmond Howard striking this famous Heisman pose on the cover. Fittingly, this game featured a mode called "Race for the Heisman," where you could start as a high-schooler performing at a camp, get an offer from a major program, and then play 4 years of college ball while trying to raise your "Heisman hype." I loved watching my girlfriend get hotter in my dorm room as the virtual Cowbell Commander made more plays!

Later, sucka!


At last, modern times! NCAA Football 2007 featured a new kicking format where the right analog stick was swung back and forth like a kicking leg in order to boot the pigskin. This was confusing at first, but added to the overall realism of the gaming experience. The college atmosphere in this game was beyond compare, with "smart fans" who got riled up in close games and chanted "hey hey hey, goodbye!" in blowouts, "smart bands" who played appropriate incidental music during the games, and an in-season recruiting feature. This game is a level above previous editions in presentation and experience.

Now THAT'S a good lookin' stadium.

2006 also brought us Bowl Bound College Football, a strategy sim where you never got to play a down. Instead, emphasis was placed on recruiting and play-calling. This was a valiant attempt at a college football management sim, but ultimately flopped.

If this doesn't look fun, you're right.

Along the same lines of Bowl Bound College Football, there was also Front Office Football: The College Years. This game's heart is in recruiting, so all of you recruiting-obsessed college football junkies would love this one. There are over 14,000 high schools to recruit from and all 117 NCAA D1 teams to manage. Time spent between games is important, as you get to manage your staff, players, and hunt down that blue chip everyone's after. A great sim!

Doesn't look too fun, but strangely addictive.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was a brief glance at college football video gaming. You know what the Cowbell Commander is going to do right now? I'll give you 4 clues...

1) N
2) C
3) A
4) A


LudaChristian said...

Don't go jogging with David Lighty!

I'm new to the Meechigan Blue-blogging scene -- Stop by!

Misha Dhar said...

You forgot the entire Gamebreaker franchise from 989 sports that ran through the late 1990s and early 2000s. It was quite solid.

Also, NCAA '98 (with Danny Wuerffel on the cover), definitely had a Dynasty mode, at least for playstation. I know this because I built a Wolverine Dynasty that had my created running back winning MVP after MVP. I played that game for years, until the CD got so scratched up, that it no longer worked.

Misha Dhar said...

You also might wanna change the color of the visited links on the page to something other than the background color.

It blends in too much.


Don"t Click Here