Welcome to a new column here at Diehard GameFAN that we’re calling, “Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?” Each week we’re going to look at a dormant franchise that was once pretty popular, but for some reason has disappeared into the sands of time. Diehard GameFAN staffers will have four options for what they want to have happen to the series and you can see them in the title of this piece. For a little more detailed description see below:
Sequel – A direct sequel to the franchise. This means if it used sprites and was in 2-D, that’s how you want the next game to be as well. This might involve putting the game on a handheld system instead of a console, but it keeps the nostalgia and classic feel alive.
Spin Off – This is where you take the characters or a specific character is a totally different direction from the established franchise. Examples include Luigi’s Mansion, Hey You, Pikachu!, Shadow Hearts (From Koudelka), and so on.
Start Over – This is a reimagining of the series from the ground up. Perhaps it’s time to bring the series into 3-D. Perhaps you want a totally different control scheme or to throw away the old continuity. In a nutshell, this is taking the brand name from the old series and that’s about it. Everything else is new and re-envisioned.
Stay Dead – This is pretty obvious. This is a toxic franchise that you don’t want to see return in any way shape or form. Let the dead rest.
This week, with another year of football season starting up, I decided to kick things off with Mutant League Football, a popular football game for the Sega Genesis. Although there has never been a direct sequel, much to the chagrin of many, a lackluster Mutant League Hockey was made, and the game was eventually ported to the PSP in a little known EA collection called EA Replay. Let’s see what the Diehard GameFAN staff think about the resurrection of a game that has been dormant for over a decade and a half.
David Olvera – Sequel
Obviously Mutant League Football should have a proper sequel.
Among intellectual properties Electronic Arts leaves to rot in their portfolio is Mutant League Football. Mutant League Football, to those who grew up playing games on the Sega Genesis, was an incredibly fun game that seemed to be a US take on Blood Bowl, only action oriented instead of with all the dice and turns. While MUDS (Mean Ugly Dirty Sport) is another pretty good take on the fantasy football genre, it was made by Germans and thus is not American.
I digress – Mutant League Football is a franchise that should be revived and given a proper sequel. The game is a fun football game for those that are not very interested in the NFL and provides plenty of diversions for those who enjoy US football. The act of killing opposing players, over the top violence, parodies of NFL players, chance to use fantastical creatures in sport and arcade action over straight simulation would be welcome in a market where only John Madden’s bloated carcass and name are the gateways into any sort of football.
Madden sells well but there’s a divide in people who play sports games and those that do not. Why not use Mutant League Football as a sort of olive branch to those who may see NFL based football games as the realm of the meat headed, popped collared crowd; games to be written off because of pre-conceptions about the genre. Strip away the trappings of the NFL and add a layer of the familiar and fantastic and perhaps new fans could be created.
Part of what has turned off some people from video game football, a segment that would have bought older Madden games in the past, is the need to toe the line with the NFL. Some folks want to intentionally injure someone while others want to play a game that is not tied so closely with how real football is played.
Imagine running a team of trolls or aliens or robots and having them match up with fleshy humans, skeletons or more robots. Think about having to find a replacement for your running back who stepped on a landmine during a break out run. The front office possibilities are numerous and more fun than I can put into words. Recruiting, training and playing fantastic critters in games and having to deal with casualties is something missing from action oriented football games.
Then there is the whole group of folks who have wanted a second Mutant League Football since it came out in the early 1990s for the Genesis. Instead we were given Mutant League Hockey, which kind of stunk. Then EA just started pouring out Madden NFL Football and forgot the gem that was Mutant League Football. The chance for people to have a less simulation oriented football game not steeped in NFL culture, one loosened from the bonds of being about just humans in pads (away from NFL Street or what have you) is a deliciously tempting one.
The role playing game and simulation aspects of many sports games would be more apparent to people with a semi-familiar blanket of crazy creatures and blood thirsty encounters. With the sort of environment a new Mutant League Football would create, people may just find out that sports simulations can actually be fun.
Mutant League Football was sports game fun for people who may not actually like the real life equivalent and an extra outlet for those who wanted something different from the NFL product. By reviving the franchise a niche audience can be reached and maybe nostalgia can be rewarded.
Alexander Lucard – Sequel
I hate regular football. It’s a boring wussy sport. However, I loved Mutant League Football. It was just so outside the box and hilarious, that my friends and I could play it for hours. I stuck with the all alien team known as the Misfit Demons and ran wild with them.
When EA Replay came out, I picked it up for seven dollars and only for Mutant League Football. I mean, who cares about Jungle Strike or Desert Strike? I wanted some MLF and Ultima VII was just gravy on top on my 16 bit memories. Imagine my delighted surprise when I saw this thing had wireless multiplayer built in! Of course, because EA never advertised this game, no one I knew had this game or even knew it existed. Still, it was a lot of fun and it convinced me EA could make a killing doing a sequel to this game for the DS, PSP or even as a cheapo title for WiiWare, the PSN or Xbox Live. I’d really love to see this series come back with a vengeance, and I know I’m not the only one.
Mark B – Start Over
The beautiful thing about old games everyone waxes nostalgic about is that even if they were crap, you can make a game based around them that’s awesome NOW and everyone will claim you’re being true to the source. Such is the case with the Mutant League series; they weren’t exactly great games or anything, but lots of folks seem to love them, so bringing the franchise back seems a smart move, and would probably not be a bad investment.
Now, personally speaking, I’m not a big fan of sports games. Aside from Fight Night Round 3, NHL ’94 and Joe Montana Sports Talk Football, I haven’t spent much time with legitimate sports titles, both because they’re simply not my thing and because I prefer unrealistic, goofy sports games. As such, conceptually, Mutant League Football, if made into an over-the-top arcade-style football game with violence and simple to understand mechanics would be something I’d be all over, and that would probably be true for a lot of non-football fans. You could even make some sort of ridiculous season mode where players are created or “reanimated” or something, give players the ability to resurrect dead players or trade body parts with black-market parts to increase their abilities, or God only knows what else. The game could be completely ridiculous, and that could be the PURPOSE.
And then maybe Midway would decide to bring back Pigskin Footbrawl. The game was terrible but I loved it so.
Ashe Collins – Start Over
I loved playing this title at my friend’s house over the years, as I didn’t myself have the console it came out on. A fresh look at this and some fine tuning on the controls would make this a fantastic title to go along side the oh so serious Madden and give people an alternative that might actually catch on once again.
Hell, if they really wanted to go all out on this, they could do the whole “Create-A-Mutant” thing and let the player create their own team of misfits to beat up on the field. There’s a ton of possibilities here and I’d love to see this one all over again.
Chuck Platt – Start Over
MLF does not have much visibility these days, but it does have cache with a certain generation of gamers: the kids of the Genesis era who ate up the gore and comedy of Mutant League Football and Mutant League Hockey. There are some serious sports game gaps for EA over the course of the year, and a few imaginary games would give them a title to release, say, around June, when even the hardcore baseball fans are growing weary of a sport that EA does not support, or a few weeks later, around the All-Star Break. A mid-Summer release for a fun, irreverent sports title would be excellent.
What would a MLF game entail this hardware generation? How about using the previous year’s Madden engine, with completely revamped front end graphics, new character models, over the top Hit Stick moves, and some game play tweaks? A sleeker, faster Madden with gross animations and a soundtrack full of horror themed music? I’d buy that the first day.
Since it would be an EA title, the room available for DLC is huge. Licensed horror movie icons that can be signed as Free Agents, whole teams of extra players, maybe even a pack of extra stadiums. I do have one request, though. Bring on the Hockey!
A.J. Hess – Start Over
You could do a decent version of it on XBLA/PSN store, but why stop there? Look at games like Blitz: The League for inspiration. People crave football, and MLF has always had a strong, cult-like following. Let’s say that it’s going to come out next year. Start hyping it at the midway point of the NFL and release it during week two of the playoffs. Boom, instant hit. I would recommend clearing the instant death things on the field and upping the “realism” a bit, but I would love to see something like this hit the consoles. Hell, just think of the trash-talking via the headsets. You could really do something special with the online possibilities. I don’t know about 22 player support, but you could easily do four-on-four matches, league play, stat-tracking, etc. Mutant League Football could be awesome if done right.
Guy Desmarais – Start Over
I am a big fan of sports simulations, but I am also a big fan of over-the-top violence. If you combine both in a new 3-D version of Mutant League Football, you can be sure that I would be all over that game.
This is, of course, assuming that nothing would go wrong during development and that the game would indeed be in the same spirit as its predecessor, only brought into the 21st century. I don’t want anything being thought over, or tweaked, or toned down for kids. I want mutants mutilating each other while playing football. I want players exploding. I want booby traps and I want to bribe the ref.
If that is at all possible, than by all mean, please bring back the series.
Matt Yaeger – Start Over
I always seem to prefer over the top arcade style games to realistic ones, which is why I prefer the Blitz series to Madden even now. The thought of an even more brutal over the top football game sounds fantastic to me. Hell, while we’re at it, I’d love to see a next gen sequel of the game Deathrow.
In the meantime a game based on the Warhammer turn based football game Blood Bowl has been released on PC and should be hitting home and portable consoles soon. It’s only is slightly similar to American rules football, but it’s the closest approximation to Mutant League Football currently.
Aaron Sirois – Start Over
I never got to really enjoy the MLF series, but I think something like that could work out great on the handhelds. All they need to do is keep it simple and not try to mimic the Madden series. We need more kooky sports games out there.
Chris Bowen -Stay Dead
Mutant League Football was a favourite of the Genesis crowd; everyone loved playing a game where killing the referee after he was bribed was not only allowed, but encouraged. A game where you can bomb the halftime show? Sign me up!
But what everyone forgets about the Mutant League games is that they weren’t very good. The football game wasn’t as god-awful as the hockey game, but it still wasn’t a very good game of football. It was horribly unbalanced, and used a modified Madden engine, with most of the modifications relating to anything other than blowing up opponents not doing well. When I go back and play Mutant League Football, it’s not for long, and it’s usually just to see the admittedly great humour.
I don’t see where this series could go, honestly. Do you want to make it as gory as it was in the 16 bit days? We have a game that does that, it’s called Blitz. Do you want to make it cartoony? You wouldn’t say that if you remembered the Mutant League cartoon that came about in the late 90s. Do you make it more realistic, borrowing heavily from the Madden engine, the way NHL 3-on-3 Arcade did with the NHL engine? You could do that, but NHL Arcade wasn’t very good, and even then, you’re only selling the game for $15.
My memories of Mutant League Football are fun. Let’s keep them that way.
Start Over – 7
Sequel – 2
Stay Dead – 1
Spin Off – 0
Now it’s time for you, our readers to comment. What do you think should be done with Mutant League Football?
Next week – an RPG series that is either beloved or reviled, depending on which side of the Pacific you are on…