COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP / Sega / Genesis
 
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This college football game is a repurposing of the Joe Montana '94 engine, skinning it with 32 of the major college programs (at least of the early 1990s). For multiplayer, you can set up a tournament in any multiple of four teams up to the max 32. Single players can either do the "Road to #1", where you create a schedule for yourself and try to finish up ranked #1 and in the National Bowl, or the "Divisional Challenge", where you play an 11-game season against teams from your region.
 


The game engine looks a bit like the 16-bit Maddens at first blush, primarily differentiating itself by being more zoomed out for special teams and pre-snap, but zooming in to center on the ball after passes or handoffs. The other main difference is in how passing is handled, which is a mixed bag. Instead of the "receiver windows" each assigned to a button of Madden, the play style is more like Tecmo, where you simply cycle between eligible receivers with the B button. With the screen zoomed out until you release the ball, you can track them for a pretty good distance, but they will eventually get lost off-screen (especially if you roll to one side). I do like how the ball zooms to them almost immediately and gives you much more time to steer them into proper position for the catch, however.
 


This does make the game more slanted to running than passing, compounded by the fact that run plays have a real high rate of success, especially QB sneaks (since no defender in any formation ever seems to "spy" the QB and will still go toward the halfback or stay in their coverage assignment even when you're blatantly keeping it and running). While I do like the concept of the zoom-in to the receiver when passing, your receivers tend to run super sloppy routes for some reason and are always way off the ball, while the defenders are always in great position. Sometimes you just can't get them back into position to avoid an interception, and I've never once seen the computer really blow a coverage.
 


This is also technically a "Sports Talk" entry, and they got the same announcer from the early Joe Montana games (Lon Simmons of San Francisco sports broadcast fame), though with the downsampling of the vocal clips he sounds a lot more like Dr. Sbaitso. The clips are cued well with the action and keep up with it nicely. There are a few mistakes, but they tend to be amusing, like as soon as a kick returner gets a few yards you often get "He could go all the way!" even though the defense is clearly closing in and about to slam him.
 


Though there isn't much reason to go back to it, this is a fairly solid all-around football game and is kind of a toss-up in comparison to the first Bill Walsh game. I also love how you can press the C button to raise your helmet in victory like a total goober after every play, even when it is totally inappropriate - wish that feature was in every game. This apparently had no less than three sequels on the Genesis, though ... maybe one of them is more refined, but scuttlebutt is they all have their own unique issues such that they might not be better overall than this one.
 
 
 
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