Super Touchdown is neither super nor a touchdown. Discuss.

Amongst my circle of friends, it’s no secret that I by and large hate regular mainstream sports. Baseball, basketball, and especially football. I do not get the appeal at all. But give me an arcadey sports videogame and I can be just as enthralled as the next guy. I hate basketball with the fury of a thousand suns, but I love me some NBA Jam. So when presented with a football game that’s just about bombing touchdown passes, I was more than willing to dive right in.

Super Touchdown isn’t a full-fledged football game, but rather just a single setup play at a time. Teams take turns on offense and defense. When you’re on offense you’ll start in your own redzone and can place your four players anywhere you’d like them to start, taking a look at where the four players on defense are. Typically you’ll want your ball carrier protected or with a clear path for the endzone. Setup when you’re on defense is the same idea, but on the opposite end of the field.

On either end of the ball before the action starts you can draw out paths for each of your players to run. Once you’re finished, you’ll set everything in motion and watch it play out. You can redraw any lines to deal with the situation on the field as it evolves, or tap to pass the ball from one receiver to another. The only thing that matters here is touchdowns, either scoring or stopping it. No first downs or working your way down field. No field goals. Touchdowns or bust.

It kind of reminds me of those old football board games from the 70’s – the “electronic” ones. You’d set up your players on the metal playfield then turn it on and the whole thing would vibrate and shake, moving the pieces around seemingly randomly until they bumped into each other. It’s essentially what happens in Super Touchdown, the whistle blows and all the AI pieces just all slide towards whichever of your pawns has the ball.

When it’s you on defense though, you need to control all four players. Clearly you have more control here since you can have someone drop back or double up on someone. The problem is, though, once they run those pre-drawn lines they all just stand still. So you’ll need to move them individually, and typically there’s no time to do that. If you don’t stop the other team with those initial lines then it’s not likely to happen, since at that point it’s sort of like 4 against 1.

Super Touchdown

Luckily I had almost no problem stopping the other team from scoring. Since you know where they put their offensive players before you place yours, it’s pretty easy to match them up properly. Then it’s just a matter of rushing a few guys towards the passer and maybe doubling up someone else. I was able to intercept and run it back or tackle them almost immediately every time.

It’s a shame, too, because the setup of drawing those paths and then letting it play out is an interesting one. It’s just not executed here well at all. Time and time again I was able to break up the play seconds after it started, over and over and over. There wasn’t any variety in the opponent setup and the players never tried anything different. After a while it kind of felt like Groundhog Day.

With the player set-ups and the play running as it’s designed (only looking for the endzone) really what you have here isn’t a football game at all, but the makings of a rugby one. Sadly, it’s not a fleshed out rugby game in any sense, but that’s definitely the direction the game feels like it wants to go in. Why then it’s dressed up like a football game feels sort of dishonest.

If you were looking for a full-on football game, then you’re going to come away from Super Touchdown disappointed. Beyond that, the game has its share of AI problems. The concept of combining sports and line drawing, especially something like runs or pass patterns, shows promise. I just wish it came together better.