When I was a kid I had a Sega Genesis, and for a short while, the Sega Channel. It was through that service I discovered Mutant League Football and Mutant League Hockey. These two games were amazing and, truthfully, stand the test of time and are fun to play to this very day. Mutant League Football even had a Saturday morning cartoon series for a time. And yet, the franchise died a quiet death and remained dormant for far too many years. But thanks to Kickstarter we now have Mutant Football League. I will admit that I had high expectations going into this game, as you may be able to tell from my poetic waxing, and I have to say, they were indeed met.
Mutant Football League is an arcade-style American football title featuring a variety of different teams with various monsters as the players. The title uses the word "mutant" here pretty liberally though. Undead, robots, and various other monsters round out the roster. But that doesn't really matter. The game features a pretty standard list of modes like exhibition, playoff, season, online, and a practice mode. The league itself features 18 different teams to choose from and they're mostly all parody of NFL franchises. The player and stadium names are also mostly parodies of real life players and locations as well. I will admit that most of these flew well over my head. I've never been a football fan outside of a few random games, but my sport-loving friends assure me that it is hilarious.
The core football engine is a lot of fun and will remind you immediately of both the classic Mutant League Football and a bit of NFL Blitz (pretty much the only other football game I enjoy). The teams are a little smaller with fewer players and positions then you might expect. But the gameplay is fast-paced, fun, and boy is it brutal.
The rules of the Mutant Football League are quite lax here, but that's where much of the fun comes in. You're able to injure and outright kill other players by beating them down, blowing them up, tearing them apart, etc. You can even continue to beat up enemy players while they are stuck on the ground. It's rather cathartic to hit a lizard man while he is down. In fact, you can even win the game by forcing your opponent to retire by killing off their whole team. Each stadium also provides a plethora of different tools for you to destroy your opponent with such as bombs, buzzsaws, fire pits, and giant worms that will pop out and eat you.
Players taunt you and each other. Often to hilarious results. This can be turned off though, but in my opinion it is half the fun. I will always prefer winning through violence over winning through points. But it is nice to be able to disable this for those who want a slightly less chaotic experience. Don't worry, your players can still die, but they will be miraculously resurrected without penalty between plays.
Other than turning off the permanence of the death, you can also turn on and off the dirty plays. Examples of dirty plays include bribing the referee to call fouls on your opponent for nonsensical offenses (like giving the ref the stink eye or murdering a player which is normally encouraged), making your player consume massive amounts of steroids, and using chainsaws to rip other players apart. These dirty plays can only be used a certain amount of time per game with extra plays earned by completing mini-games at halftime. The mini-game is an overhead shooter where one of your players runs around to kill as many referees within the time limit.
The commentary from the announcers in the game can get pretty old and seems to get confused from time to time bu they do crack me up and overall are a good addition to the game. I wish there were more lines (the repetition does get to you) but the lines included are pretty funny. In fact, a few of them made me pause the game due to laughing.
Graphically speaking, the game looks alright but it is nothing brilliant. It works. It's functional. And that's about that. It controls like a dream with snappy and tight controls with an Xbox 360 controller too.
Mutant Football League is fast fun and easy for casual fans to get into. It's also incredibly violent and full of cheesy horror puns. In some ways it's everything I wanted it to be while simultaneously leaving the door open for improvements. My only gripes are that it's occasionally repetitive and can be frustratingly unpredictable (for those who hate huge game swings from dirty plays and being consumed by stadium hazards). Still, Mutant Football League is great fun!