This may not come as a surprise to people who know me, but I’m not a big sports fan. I don’t watch it or follow it much (although I do talk football with my dad on occasion). I also confess that I’ve never played the original Mutant League Football or Hockey games on the Genesis. So, why, you might wonder, do I care so much about the Kickstarter campaign for Mutant Football League?
Because it’s not about sports. It’s about classic gaming.
It may be easy to forget in our modern gaming world, but sports games weren’t always trying to be hyper-realistic simulations. There was a time when they were just fun, arcade-style video games that anyone could pick up and enjoy, regardless of whether they cared about the actual sport. I’ve spent quite a lot of time, myself, playing games like NBA Jam, Baseball Stars 2, Virtua Tennis, and even Neo Turf Masters. If it was easy enough to understand and play, but deep enough to provide strategy and challenge, then I could get into it as much as any video game. I wouldn’t mind seeing more sports games go back to this mentality.
I also understand how frustrating it can be to be a fan of a classic franchise that you desperately want to see make a comeback. When it gets a chance through crowd funding, you definitely want it to get as much support as possible, and it’s quite painful to watch when it doesn’t meet its goal.
Mutant Football League is really no different than other recent crowd funding campaigns for games that deliberately harken back to an earlier style of game design. Just as Mighty No. 9 is coming from the original creators of Mega Man, MFL is coming from Michael Mendheim, the original creator of Mutant League Football. So, it’s not just a tribute or fan game, but a genuine successor.
As of now, it does not look like MFL is going to meet its funding goal, but I hope Mr. Mendheim doesn’t just throw in the towel. Rather, I hope he looks at it like a practice run, or a rehearsal to iron out the wrinkles. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a Kickstarter campaign failed its first attempt only to be far more successful in its second, so I hope he gives it another shot.
And what can I say? I root for the underdog. Mutant Football League isn’t getting anywhere near as much attention as Mighty No. 9 or Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. River City Ransom: Underground looks like it’ll get funded, but it has a much smaller goal than MFL. But really, I want them all to do well, because I’m just a fan of classic gaming.
If you’re also a fan of classic gaming, I hope you’ll give Mutant Football League a look. Because you don’t really have to be a fan of American Football to enjoy a great video game, whatever rules (or lack thereof) it may follow.