I’m not quite sure that the team behind MUTANT FOOTBALL LEAGUE set out to create a telling social critique. However, the game winds up being quite the look at the core violence behind football, and how bloodthirsty fans will cheer on long-term brain damage. By taking the violence beyond the level of NFL Blitz and fully embracing the ridiculous, the studio created a damning look at a sport that has wrecked just as many lives as it has helped change for the better. Beyond any (potentially unintended) commentary, developer Digital Dreams Entertainment also wound up creating quite the entertaining football game. Much like its 1993 predecessor Mutant League Football, the game is a very clear variation upon the established Madden formula.
The main differences come in the form of how Mutant Football League embraces the core violence of contact sports. Each player has a health meter that can be obliterated by attacking them after plays. Once it reaches zero, the roster member dies and has to be replaced mid-game. While it may seem gimmicky at first, it quickly becomes one of the most strategic elements to matches. Going after a star athlete like the Grim Bay Attackers’ Airbourne Dodgers (the puns are hit-or-miss) can force a player to re-determine their entire offensive strategy, so making sure to regularly swap players in and out of the game due to low health becomes a key component during the most intense of matches.
Mutant Football League Dynasty Edition Review – Let’s Get Violent
There are also a number of on-field hazards that keep players on their toes. While the core gameplay is just as mechanically sound (although not quite as polished) as a Madden title, MFL never forgets that it’s an arcade experience. Each stadium presents a slightly different experience from gigantic spikes that players have to avoid to gigantic worms that will swallow up a player in one gulp. This makes running down the field a more hectic affair and forces players from simply running straight to the end zone.
Adding to the core experience is that there are a number of “dirty plays” that can be selected before the player hikes the ball. These range from bribing the ref for favorable play calls to a speed boost that makes the running back nearly impossible to stop. These plays help ensure that MFL matches are high scoring affairs, even though the defense has their own maneuvers to help even out the matches. However, even the dirtiest of tricks can’t always help the game’s artificial intelligence that, while generally is good, can make some incredibly stupid decisions at times. One particular instance saw my opponent kick an extra point rather than going for a two-point conversion despite being down by 16 points prior to scoring during the fourth quarter.
While I enjoyed all of these additions and they truly make Mutant Football League feel like its own game, I wish there were more gameplay customization options. Player deaths and dirty tricks can be turned off, but there’s no way to disable the field hazards that litter every stadium. While clearly not essential, it would’ve been a nice feature to have particularly for the Nintendo Switch version because it could’ve appealed further to those that wanted a Madden-like experience on the go.
Mutant Football League Dynasty Edition Review – The Best Nintendo Switch Football Game
The Dynasty Edition of Mutant Football League has some key upgrades compared to the regular release that hit last year on PC (such as additional teams and existing DLC), but the most vital addition is the Dynasty mode that allows players to run their own franchise. Digital Dreams Entertainment even tries to tell a story here as, no matter what team players select, they are given a 40-person squad of players of underdogs in their first season. It’s up to the player to not only find success with the team, but to build a dynasty over time. Most of the narrative (which obviously changes depending on how successful the player is) comes in the form of hilarious commentary from NFL Blitz and NBA Jam veteran Tim Kitzrow that ends up being one of the highlights.
For the most part, the mode checks off every feature that you’d want from a sports game. Trades can be brokered between teams, new talent (including some legends from the past) can be signed in a free agency, and results carry over from one year to the next. However, some poor user interface choices and the inability to change the difficulty once a dynasty is started (all due to a leaderboard that nobody will likely ever check) hamper the experience a bit.
I primarily played the Nintendo Switch version of Mutant Football League, and the quick matches are a perfect pairing for portable play. While the port doesn’t look quite as stunning as its other versions, the personality of each stadium still gets across clearly and it manages to looks good on the handheld’s screen. It’s also a fully featured title as it has online play in addition to local multiplayer (that can be played with one Joy-Con apiece). Considering the lack of football games on the device, it’s easily the best way to experience some gridiron action.
Mutant Football League Dynasty Edition was reviewed on Nintendo Switch via a digital code provided by the publisher.