Mutant Football League: Dynasty Edition
Reviewed by Shaun (@reviewsbyhughes)
Developer: Digital Dreams Entertainment LLC
Publisher: Digital Dreams
Category: Sports, Arcade, Multiplayer
Release Date: 30.10.2018
Bravado, inappropriate themes and downright madness…
With a canyon of a gap in the market for sports games on the Nintendo Switch at present, any foray into the market is always going to be greeted favourably by gamers. Queue Mutant Football League, or MFL – a blatant, unashamed nod to the NFL, which has been designed and developed by Digital Dreams Entertainment LLC. A no-holds-barred American Football sports game, MFL is certainly not lacking in bravado, inappropriate themes and downright madness. Sound like your sort of game? Here’s what we think at The Switch Effect.
Straight off the bat, MFL provides an excellent tutorial, informing you of the basic rules and plays associated with American Football. For anyone unfamiliar to these, it can be a little overwhelming. For seasoned veterans of the sport, you will feel right at home here. Fortunately, the tutorial does enough to ensure that both ends of the spectrum are catered for with speedy yet detailed information being shared in a simple manner. It can also be accessed at any time through the in-game menu which is a great option to remind you of all the core mechanics, because there are a lot.
What a spectacle!
After completing the tutorial, I jumped straight into a quick game to put my skills to the test. From the team selection screen to the opening scenes of the match and the first play itself, I was enamoured by the attention to detail. In America, attending a footballing event is a true spectacle and Digital Dreams have done their upmost to recreate that. After awhile spent playing sports games such as FIFA, I often skip the opening cutscenes to start the match. With MFL, I was keen to see what was on offer for this game and therefore kept it running. I even enjoyed the short but definitely not sweet motivational speech from one of the players. More on that later!
What makes MFL stand out from the serious sporting sim crowd is the additional extras that have been included. For starters, you do not compete with a team of human players. As the name suggests, there is a number of ‘Mutants’ at your disposal, including bots, monster-orcs, super-humans and criminal aliens to name a few. They all have their own look, feel and perks and getting to know them and how they work is vital for any success you will have. Second up in the list of mental features are the different obstacles which plague the playing field. In my first match, I avoided land mines and buzzsaws. In the next, piranha tanks! Each stadium is filled with these saw-esque torture devices which help make a MFL the brutal bloodbath that it is. All of which created an experience which was hilarious. I had a number of laugh out loud moments: running through on goal and accidentally diving straight into a rotating blade which sawed me in half, and navigating towards an airborne ball which had been thrown in my direction, only to fail to notice the tank of piranhas in my way and being promptly reminded of the perils of these sea creatures.
Pitch black humour
Accompanying the gruesome, jaw-dropping visuals is some incredibly dark humour. The one-liners provided by the commentary and the players on the pitch are not ones I feel I can share on a site dedicated to Nintendo game reviews, however to give you an idea: the settings allow for both gore and mature language to be turned off, and the game page on nintendo.com requires your age before you can proceed. In equal measures, I found myself laughing hysterically at some and shocked at others. There is a fine line where humour is concerned and MFL is doing its best to get as close to that line as possible at every opportunity. Crass, inappropriate and sometimes incredibly offensive are the words that spring to mind when I look to describe it here.
With all Digital Dreams have tried to include in this game, there are a couple of instances of where it has meant certain elements of the game fall just short. First of all, the graphics are a little lacking. In particular, I feel the pitch does not have the clean lines and clarity I would expect. It is most noticeable during the opening game scenes which, lets not forget, I did say where something special. It is just that in amongst all that, the pitch itself looks blurry. The second, and again, not a dealbreaker but one which I believe to be the fallout of so much content, is the interactions between players. It doesn’t have the smoothness that some other sports games provide, and the tackling and fighting is where it is evident. None of these affect the overall gameplay too much, but it does remind you that it isn’t as polished as some of the other big sports names.
Back to the future
Dynasty edition includes a classic take on career mode, with you taking a team from anonymity to become the coveted Mayhem Bowl champions. It has all the features you’ve come to expect from a career mode within a sports game, with very little in the way of surprises. You have a budget which allows for trades and ‘free agent’ signings, of which I chose the latter and bagged myself Nuke Dukem.’ With all my other rookies starting with an average rating of 45, Nuke lived up to his name with an overall score of 100. A worthy addition to the squad that’s for sure!
The first season goal for my team of shoddy showmen was to build a team of contenders. This was no mean feat and tested my gaming ability, that’s for sure. The primary reason for this, and one I wish to take a minute to delve into, is the opportunity in-match to utilise dirty tactics. A seemingly great way to provide an alternative approach to American Football, you can select to use Dirty Tactics at the start of each play. These range from bribing the referee, beating said referee up, time warping and much more. ‘Time Warping’ is where my biggest gripe with this game lies. If you score and the opposing team has access to this tactic, the game rewinds to the play before you scored.
*One thing to note, even with the ‘child-friendly’ settings on, the Dynasty mode doesn’t filter the content and rightly informs you of this at the start of play.
The other mode of particular note is the online play. At anytime during a game you are reminded of this option with an onscreen prompt in the top right letting you know someone is looking for a game. You can click this to enter, and be drafted straight into a match. As expected, the game is as brutal and unrelenting as ever here, and a very fitting mode for a game of this nature. I had a lot of fun playing online and didn’t once experience any connectivity issues – a superb achievement by Digital Dreams.
Mutant Football League is sure to divide opinion and rightly so. It offers a comprehensive, detailed and competitive arcade sports title with an often uncomfortable amount of insults and gore. I for one found myself wincing at the nature of some of the puns, and it is therefore a difficult game to decide how to recommend. With the ability to turn off the unsavoury content, it makes it more accessible to the masses however some will not condone the content regardless. It receives a three and a half heart rating from me, however with a warning – it’s dark humour is black in colour.