8-bit mania

The new (and improved) football video game


Photo by Logan Moseley

This is my roster in the game. There is on the top left a 23 and a coin icon. These are “coaching credits”, the game’s currency and you can earn by progressing in the game or paying money. The yellow bar is your cap space. That is how much money you can spend on players, a feature separate from CCs. The bottom shows your teams overall and its morale levels, and the green bar under the players shows their health. The little icon by a player shows their awards on your team, and the background is what side of the ball they play. Blue for offense, red for defense and orange for special teams

Logan Moseley, Striv Co-Executive Producer, Business Manager

A new game has been jet-sweeping across the country. Retro Bowl is the newest football game to take a shot at the juggernaut of Electronic Arts Madden series. The free to download game does come at a cost to continue playing, but you can only go five games into your career without paying a $0.99 fee.

 While the game has been around for a little bit now, it has once again picked up traction and has thousands of players everyday, including a large part at Millard West.

As someone who has played the game since early 2020, right at the start of the pandemic, I know first hand how well the game has evolved from the bare bones of football to a legit, full fledged game. That is why the game is so popular. EA’s Madden series is the only game that can get rights and branding from the National Football League in an agreement by the two parties, but the way the game works around it is very clever. You can still play as your favorite teams like the Los Angeles Rams or the Kansas City Chiefs, but not the actual players nor jerseys. 

The jerseys do come with different options. You get four choices for each team and get to pick them for the other team as well. With a realistic looking home and away option as the first two, you also get an alternate and the NFLs most popular: the color rush. That’s not the only customization piece you can get. You can also edit players’ names, teams’ names, colors, jerseys and the football that you use in game. I know someone that went on to make the game as if it were college football, with teams like Nebraska, Texas and Baylor, reminiscent of EA’s NCAA series.

Another problem with no access to the licensing of the players and teams is creating players to be used in game. The remedy for that is taking all of the players first and last names and just randomly assigning base names (you see this trend with last names more than first names). For example, my quarterback’s last name is “Sendejo,” the same as Indianapolis Colts safety Andrew Sendejo. My defensive back is the same as former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontez Burfict, and my kicker shares his last name with the cheesehead Eddy Lacey.

Speaking of the players, you can do so much more with them. You get to control them in game and what they do, but I love the front office mechanic that goes along with the game. While the game is very much pay-to-win, it still is extremely fun moving your roster around after every season, resigning players, trading players, releasing players and even making their morale better by having a conversation with them. The game puts an emphasis on realism as well with this standpoint, as you are the coach and not the general manager. You can still make all of these trades, but you have to juggle both fan and player happiness, and if somehow you mess up, you can easily get fired.

But just like in real life the players can only get you so far. The real way you win games is in your coordinators, and that is how you also boost your overall rating, which is scored out of five stars. They are what make your non stars better, which can be helpful when you are resting your players for postseason play or if one of them is hurt. This really helps your on field play as well, as your stars can play better too. One way is your quarterback, and is the lifeline of the actual game play, as you only play offense and attempt the PAT. Depending on how good he is, you can either get up to five audibles a game (which can be super helpful late game if you have a good wide receiver and want to take a deep shot to end the game), or no audibles at all. The overall stats on the players affect your game plan every week. You don’t have a kicker? This week you may just go for two. Your new quarterback doesn’t have that high of arm strength? Get a new one or dump it off to your running back in close down yardage. It all ends up playing a specific role every game, and with only two minute quarters, you need to play things smart.

The final bit I love about this game is how your stats get recorded after every play, and you even have a chance to make it into the Hall of Fame. Achievements like 50 career passing touchdowns earn your spot into the digital screen of success, and you can even see former players make their way there.

I’ve watched this game grow and develop over the past couple of years, and it really is a fun game that I think even non-football fans could enjoy and, just like my offense, I am giving it five stars.