#31: Sports Pad Football (1987 Sega)


You’re probably surprised to see that Sega put out a second football cartridge so soon, and if the title hadn’t tipped you off, it also sees the brief return of the Sega Sports Pad. But then you take a glance of the screenshots and wonder why this game looks almost exactly like Great Football. That’s because, believe it or not, it is Great Football; for whatever reason Sega decided to put out a second version of their football cart, only using the trakball instead of the regular gamepad. And the results are pretty much what you’d expect.

You mean I have to suffer through this again? Really, Sega!

You mean I have to suffer through this again? Really, Sega!

The game is almost the same as the earlier release with the same oddly-named teams in two conferences, the same gameplay on the oversized field, the same unintuitive play calling with the rotating indicator, and the same horrible solo mode where you’re on offense the whole time trying to overcome a fourth-quarter deficit. The only difference is now having to use the Sports Pad, but using the trakball to move your players down the field isn’t any real improvement, in fact that decision has reduced this game from mearly blah to virtually unplayable. Forget about having a good passing attack; it was hard enough picking a direction to throw your passes with the regular controller, you can imagine what it’s like trying to use the trakball. You’ll mainly be depending on running plays but just like Great Ice Hockey you have to really roll the ball to get your player to move anywhere. The graphics and sounds are the same, so much of the criticisms of Great Football will also be found in this rerelease.

Of course he scored, he's not the one stuck using the stupid trakball.

Of course he scored, he’s not the one stuck using the stupid trakball.

I don’t know what Sega was trying to pull with this stunt, because all they succeeded in doing is making a bad football game even worse. If you’ve seen Great Football you’ve seen this game, making you wonder why Sega felt the need for two versions of the same game, one for each controller instead of simply having one cart containing the option to switch between them. Sports Pad Football is such an unnecessary release, but even if the earlier title never existed it would still rank at the bottom of the football ladder, trakball or not. Unless you really need to get some use out of the Sports Pad,  just stick with Tecmo Super Bowl or Joe Montana Football and you’ll be fine.

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