MUTANT FOOTBALL LEAGUE: Attack of the 20ft Wez

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I’ve been conflicted over whether I should talk about Mutant Football League at all. This is mostly because I funded the game on Kickstarter last year when it was in pre-alpha. I also realize I’m probably not the intended audience, even within the art style’s genre. My yearly exposure to football is limited to a few Buffalo Bills games and the Super Bowl. The last football game I played before MFL was Madden 06. What I’m trying to say is that it’s not as cut and dry as previous games I’ve discussed.

The premise is pretty simple. It’s an anything goes apocalypse! The dead are rising out of their graves, a tidal wave of orcs pollutes the air with a noxious green haze, robots are leaking oil, aliens have made football stadiums on the moon, and clones of Vernon Wells are wreaking havoc all across America. But that’s not all. Blood is raining from the sky in Killadelphia and the world’s #1 pastime is sponsored by… “Monsatan Industries.” Nearly every element of NFL culture is tweaked to meet the theme. It’s silly, visually appealing, and portrays a post-apocalypse that’s simultaneously grimdark and chuckle worthy. 20180208112956_1.jpg

Taking place in a violence-obsessed post-apocalypse, Mutant Football League has some interesting twists up its sleeves. The game’s own promotional material says killing five quarterbacks to force a forfeit is a perfectly acceptable strategy. However, while the AI loves to use Quarterback Sack Attack, I’ve yet to see myself or anyone else lose in this manner.

Mutant Football League also includes Dirty Tricks, a series of special plays which typically function as a guaranteed touchdown, guaranteed fumble, or both. For example, on offense you can take out a shotgun during a run play and reduce the entire opposing team to swiss cheese. On defense, you can turn 20ft tall, instantly kill or fumble anyone you touch and then easily make a touchdown because no one dares tackle the giant mutant on the field. Overall, Dirty Tricks make the game interesting and unpredictable as every team has its own set of tricks.

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Notice the score. This is hard difficulty. Also notice how the ball grows in proportion to the ginormous player.

Opposing players aren’t the only thing to look out for. Mutant Football League fields are covered in hazards: Landmines, bottomless pits, sandworms, razorblades, and much more. Among these, one specifically stands out. It’s incredibly difficult to go out of bounds in MFL because the sidelines are often replaced with pools of blood or lava. This means you can’t maximize your yardage by diagonally cutting across the field. Instead, you have to jump, spin, punch, or dive your way out of danger or trick the other team into falling into a pool of acid.

Unfortunately, the AI in Mutant Football League is embarrassingly bad. You almost have to play against another human to face any sort of challenge. Back in the demo days of MFL, I would often shut out the other team by up to 48 points in just two quarters. Things aren’t much better in the full release.  On All-Pro difficulty (Hard), I kicked the ball toward the obvious obstacles, only for the returner to instantly die by falling into a bear trap, causing a fumble. My team picks up the ball and makes a touchdown. THEN THE EXACT SAME THING HAPPENED AGAIN 17 SECONDS LATER. Meanwhile, on Masochist difficulty (very hard) the AI will generally intercept any pass you make and will regularly make field goals from up to 50 yards away.

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Our lovely narrator.

Even though I’m not a big fan of the gameplay or AI, the art style is really the star of the show. The stadiums look great, the team logos are sleek, and the commentators are good…for a while. The narration usually doesn’t reflect gameplay as players have come to expect from other, modern sports games. Sure, you’ll hear general remarks that relate to the game “Rev up your engines! It’s time for a chainsaw massacre.” “The 40, the 30, the 20, the 10, HE’S GOING ALL THE WAY,” but I don’t think I’ve ever heard the commentators specifically mention a player by name. This is despite the fact that Tim Kitzrow, the lead narrator, is quoted as saying “”In what other video game could I talk about deflated balls?…[such as] after that vicious sack, Bomb Shadey will be playing with deflated balls for the rest of his career!” I usually play the Nuked London Hatriots and I’ve never heard that quip.

Between plays, the commentators will do a series of short skits. Unfortunately, this leads to the same problem every other comedy game faces: repetition. The more times you hear a joke, the less funny it is. You’ll hear “Oh my god! A man in a prison uniform just came on the field!” followed by “That’s the referee you idiot” dozens and dozens of times. It’ll make you smile the first time, but by the end of the football season, you’ll probably end up turning the commentators off. There’s just not enough material to keep it lively. In my opinion, one of the best examples of doing this right is Monday Night Combat, where the announcer usually chimes in at the beginning and end of each match (like Team Fortress 2), but also to inform players when interesting things are happening (churros/bacon/Bullseye appearing, impressive kill streaks, and specialist robots on the field). It still gets old after a while, but it retains some staying power by using narration as a spice rather than a sauce. Players aren’t slathered with it, but have just enough to make for an enjoyable experience.

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What we expected from the Humans class.

Then there’s the players. Most player names are a parody of either a real NFL player or a sci-fi character. The first thing you’ll, unfortunately, notice about them is that they all have the same character model. Each species of player is exactly the same, give or take the size of their padding. This is honestly disappointing as characters parodying NFL stars have unique portraits and stats, but completely average appearances. Not only that, but their facial expressions are locked in a static pose; the lower jaws move, but face and eyes do not. This is especially noticeable with the human players. I might also say that their sideline quips usually aren’t funny. Many player lines are just references or the equivalent of yo-mama jokes.

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How every human looks in MFL. Notice his left hand is clipping…

I also found some of the team compositions to be off the mark for my tastes. For example, a few teams are themed to be a single species in complementary colors. The Orcs of Hazzard, for example, is a team comprised entirely of big green Orcs in scrap metal armor. Meanwhile, another team has mustard yellow orcs and skeletons with yellow bones playing alongside blue robots. It doesn’t necessarily break the games’ immersion, but I almost wish each team was comprised of just one or two species then have an All-Star team to bring them all together. Also there’s no team made of just Wez clones, so that’s a bummer.

Overall, Mutant Football League is fun…for a while. The art direction has a lot of charm, the dirty tricks are sure to delight, and the AI bashing its head against the wall will at least make for a great highlight reel. Still, I don’t think it’ll end up on my replay list anytime soon. It’s average. Not bad, just middle of the pack. Also their Super Bowl prediction was waaaaay off.

If you’re interested in getting Mutant Football League for Steam, click here.

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Welcome to Killadelphia. Would you like to see our blood rain and giant bells?

Player Agency and 60 Seconds!

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We previously looked at 60 Seconds!, a game I described as a combination between a point and click adventure and a sticker book. I criticized the game for being based around discovering random events, but not having enough to avoid repeating them in a single session. You’ll see the same few events over and over and over again, the only difference being whether or not you have the item needed to succeed. The more I thought about this element of game design, the more I thought that I had seen it before. Today, we’ll pitch the event-based gameplay of 60 Seconds! against two games with different settings, but similar design.

Repetition in 60 Seconds! was bound to happen as a consequence of basing the gameplay entirely around a limited number of events. You’ll get a note saying “we should have taken that trip to Nevada” 10-20 times per game. After two years of DLC, 60 Seconds! only has 40-50 events. However, I want to look at another 2015 title which has more in common with 60 Seconds! than anyone might initially suspect.

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60 Seconds! – Revisited

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I originally bought 60 Seconds! when it first came out, back in the summer of 2015. After about two hours of play, I requested a refund. However, after hearing that the developers put a lot of work into upgrading and balancing the game, I was willing to give it another try. Unfortunately, 60 Seconds! did not age like a fine wine, but rather like a discarded hunk of smoldering cheese left at the bottom of a radioactive crater.

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Desert Law: School Bus Mounted Howitzer

desert-law_w1010.pngMy Steam library is filled with post-apocalyptic games. Generally, I’ll pick up (or at least wishlist) any apocalyptic game I come across. Desert Law, a real time strategy game, has been in my library for about two years. I picked it up on sale, played it for 10 minutes, and then uninstalled it. However, enough time has passed that I thought the game deserved another chance. Unfortunately, the game aged about as well as a bloated corpse in the wasteland sun.

Desert Law’s narrative makes Wasteland Angel look complex by comparison. After the apocalypse, tribes of road warriors kill each other over booze and car parts. What kind of apocalypse is this? We don’t really know. The entire world is a desert and some places are populated by angry sentient zombies napping beneath the sand.
Here’s the story: Generic wastelander Brad wants to woo a girl for mating season, but rival tribes of gangsters and pre-apocalypse military keep mucking up his plans. Brad convinces his tribe to kill everyone in their way until Jane (the love interest) notices him. Continue reading

Police State

“Two weeks hard labor.”

That was the sentence given to me by “his honor” the Judge. Geeze. I can still see that fat sluggish tongue scraping the cheese dust from his bloated lips. Guy looks like a bullfrog with a mustache. And the smell… his whole courtroom smells like a plate of steaming hot puke with a glass of skunked beer.

After my “trial” (if you can call it that), I was shackled, beaten again, and hauled off to the blacksmiths. Saul Fore wouldn’t get me out of this one. For two weeks, he just glanced at me and shook his head. When I called out to him, he said that I was beyond helping. Those words hit a lot harder than the police batons, even if they didn’t leave me covered in purple splotches.

For the past two weeks I’ve been lighting forges, assembling weapons, and handloading fresh bullets. My fingers have turned grey, but it hasn’t been so bad. I’ve actually learned a lot about how guns work. Plus, all this gave me some time to clear my head and think about everything that’s happened in the past few weeks. Besides, hard labor is a lot better than getting thrown out in the wasteland…again.

You’re probably wondering: How did that idiot Joe Junkman get into this mess?

Well, I had just entered the BLVD with Saul Fore our food caravan. It had been a long, but uneventful journey from Abundance. Almost immediately, I spotted a crowd gathered round a band playing on a rusting pickup truck. Then the music hit me. All I could hear was the wonderful strumming of a finely tuned guitar. I ignored Saul Fore’s warning and followed the string of notes drifting through the air. I caught myself nodding my head and shaking my hips. I was in a trance, comfortably numb to the world around me.

That’s partially why I didn’t hear the curfew siren. The other reason is that I had no idea the BLVD had a curfew in the first place. At first, I didn’t even notice the “counselor’s” approached wearing their fancy suits and armed with nightsticks and hand crank sirens. The crowd quickly dispersed, but I had no idea what was happening. Nobody told me anything! Of course the Judge croaked out that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Seems pretty stupid to me.

It wasn’t long before I was the last person on the street. The counselors boxed me in. One shouted something at me through a megaphone, but I couldn’t make out what he was saying. I didn’t want any trouble, so I shot my hands up and slowly walked toward the suit with the megaphone. He didn’t like that.

Something slammed into the back of my head. I hit the ground hard. A padded knee rested on top of me as my arms were roughly placed behind my back. I tried to use the old Junkman charm, but that just got me a steel-toed kick to the guts. Bruises. Just what I needed. I’m sure someone will find that attractive.

After all that, I was hauled off to the courthouse to await my trial the following morning. Of course, I had to defend myself in court so it didn’t go well. But all this got me thinking. What if someone were to put an official list of the BLVD’s laws on paper? And what if they sold that list for a few tags? And what if that someone was me?

Gunman Taco Truck: Refreshing!

gmtt-4.jpgAfter the monotony of Wasteland Angel and the abject failure of The Underground Man, I was delighted to learn of Gunman Taco Truck from Romero Games. The ultimate surprise came when I looked at the game on Steam and found that it was designed by a 9-year-old boy. With that said, Gunman Taco Truck is an addictive arcade game with a great sense of humor and a steep difficulty curve.

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The premise is simple. Scientists accidentally set off nuclear bombs, killing or mutating almost everything in the United States. One mysterious food truck driver must embark on a cross country trip from San-Diego to Winnipeg, Canada. Gasoline is expensive in the apocalypse. To make ends meet, our hero must slaughter mutants, harvest their meat, and sell delicious tacos. Continue reading

What is MUTATION: The Wasteland Survival Guide?

MUTATION: The Wasteland Survival guide is a six episode long series exploring the quirky and unusual world of MUTATION, as seen in The Journal of Joe Junkman. The show itself documents the writing of the Mo-Javi Wasteland’s very first survival guide. Charged with writing this book is wasteland legend James Gray and local shyster Joe Junkman. Throughout their journey, our heroes will struggle with radioactive dust storms, water scarcity, and each other.


I want to break character for a moment to say how excited I am to be moving forward with this project. The world of MUTATION has gone through a lot of change since its conception. What originally began as a pen and paper RPG has transformed into serial fiction, a website, and a show. I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

To make a long story short, Ben and I got together in the summer of 2015 and began brainstorming ideas for this short series. Although we have all the footage, brainstorming was about as far as it got. It seems embarrassing now, but we didn’t have a script or anything. Essentially, we had a concept for each episode and a location. For better or worse, almost every scene is improvisational.

When I first established this website, I had no idea what the response would be. These past few months, I’ve been consistently amazed at the hospitality and support I’ve received from the online post-apocalyptic tribe. Thank you for giving us a chance and following our stories week after week.

I’d also like to announce at this time that Ben and I are planning to attend Wasteland Weekend this year! I’ll be in character as James Gray and I believe Ben will appear as Joe Junkman.

We hope to see some of you there! The Rad-Lands wouldn’t be here without you.

-Ron Welch