10-YARD FIGHT / Taito / Arcade
I haven't played every football game ever made, but I still feel confident in saying that 10-Yard Fight is the worst football game ever made. Worse than those vibrating tin football games from the 1970s where the players jiggled around randomly.
Unlike later ports of the game, you only play offense in the arcade version. Each game begins with a kickoff for you to run back; eight team members surround you in a formation and move along with you, giving the game a weird military feel when combined with the snare march that accompanies the on-field action. You essentially control the whole team at once, which continues into offensive (and it is offensive if you actually spent a quarter) play. You control the QB and two halfbacks on either side of him. You have the same formation every play, which is essentially a pass, and one lone receiver who goes in motion at the beginning and runs straight up at the point where you snap the ball. One button throws to him, the other flicks it to the halfback who is in the direction you are currently facing.
The main problem with the game is that there's no sense of height or elevation on throws whatsoever. Throwing to the receiver is virtually impossible, as you have to get a completely clear line between him and the quarterback or you get intercepted automatically, and that almost never happens before you get crunched by the swarming defenders. The only option is to flick it to the halfbacks on most plays, and they have as little chance of getting upfield successfully as trying to run it ahead with your quarterback. The only play that seems to consistently work is immediately flicking to a halfback and then having them throw a flea-flicker; the percentages still aren't good here, but sometimes it buys just enough time for the receiver to get behind the defense and out-pace them.
So even if you do manage to move the ball downfield, the only way to do it is by spamming the same play over and over. The net result for this game is a game that the programmers clearly had to know was a janky and jury-rigged emulation of football, yet they pushed ahead with anyway just to be one of the first on the market with a football game and suck in the novelty dollar. Total piece of crap.
* Gameplay Video