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?

Joe Junkman #3: Junk in the Trunk

In those early years, before we established dog-tags as currency, the BLVD was crazy, seriously bananas! Even with The Judge in charge, even with the great wall of trash going up, it was a nasty, nasty place. When you showed up at someone’s doorstep with a pack full of junk, you had no idea if you were going to barter for merch or barter for your life. I got stuck up a few times; with a mug like mine how could I not. Still, I can proudly say I’m probably the only person in the Mo-Javi who hasn’t popped their murder cherry. That’s not to say I haven’t come close though.

It was after the Blacksmith’s guild was formed, but before the Guilds of Academia. I was carrying some wilted vegetables straight from Kass’ greenhouse, a guitar with a missing string, a bag of sand marked “Pure Cane Sugar,” a pair of fuzzy handcuffs, and some other household goods. Now see these were the old days. There weren’t armed guards on every street corner. If someone took your stuff, you went and took it back. If someone shot at you, you shot back and took their stuff. At that time, The Judge’s counselors were like old-time mafia enforcers, making sure the big scrap-metal wall was completed on schedule, or else. Capiche? Continue reading

Wastelands: Salvage

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As stated on Twitter, I recently picked up Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse an anthology of post-apocalyptic shorts. The series includes many notable authors, some of whom were recommended to me. With this series, I want to look at each story to get a better grasp on the plot, characters, and the apocalypse itself. This promises to be one of the few times The Rad-lands will be breaking away from specifically post-nuclear fiction.


MV5BODU4ZTczOGUtOWMyZC00MDQzLTkzOWItMWQ2NmM0YzZjMDEwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDUzOTQ5MjY@._V1_UY317_CR34,0,214,317_AL_“Salvage” is one of those stories that just makes me roll my lips and go “brrrrrtttt” until I run out of air. I had to read this story twice because the first run just didn’t stick with me. It’s purely subjective, but something about the prose or the way characters talk gave my internal narrator an uncomfortable southern drawl that made the words feel slow and sticky, similar to Willem Dafoe’s performance as Rat in Fantastic Mr. Fox. While hunting down illustrations for this piece, I noticed that discussion on this story is pretty scant. Frankly, I wasn’t surprised to find “Salvage” has a 2.5/5 average on Goodreads. That having been said, if you can get past the thick dialect and the lack of context for the surrounding world, I think you’ll find something worth salvaging from the murky depths of The Mormon Sea. Continue reading

Cult Classics: Wheels of Fire

Following the success of Mad Max 2 was a handful of post-apocalyptic B-movies. Among those was Wheels of Fire (also known as Pyro, Vindicator, and Desert Warrior), a surprisingly decent take on the post-apocalyptic genre which takes a lot of inspiration from the perfectly hammy Warriors of the Wasteland. Despite some mediocre cinematography and acting, Wheels of Fire proved to be a fast paced, action packed, and overall interesting movie. If you follow our cult classics section regularly, you know how this works by now, we’re going to break the movie into four parts.

  1. The plot
  2. Interesting concepts
  3. Cinematography
  4. The ending

The Plot: First of all, this story is massive. Warriors of the Wasteland was just as long, but most of the movie was overextended fight scenes. Wheels of Fire always has something new happening. The scale is massive and so is the synopsis.

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Our story begins with typical not-Mad-Max archetype, Trace, entering a merchant village. Here we’re introduced to his younger sister, Arlie, and her annoying, controlling boyfriend. In the first five minutes, Arlie’s boyfriend fights in a gladiatorial arena where contestants wear car keys around their necks and beat each other with PVC pipes. Don’t think about it too much. It doesn’t matter. Continue reading

Rick and Morty and the Subtly of a Giant Arm

THIS DISCUSSION IS SPOILER HEAVY
You can watch the episode in question at AdultSwim.com until August 6th

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Since Rick and Morty had a Mad-Max style episode, I think it’s time to step beyond our normal comfort zone of Mad-Max and terrible B-movies and talk about it. This episode had some serious hype behind it following the April 1st season premier. After flushing three years of world building down the drain and alienating a member of the main cast in a series of increasingly intense action scenes, the second episode of Rick and Morty’s third season, “Rickmancing the Stone,” had a lot to live up to. Adult Swim published a behind the scenes preview of this particular episode portraying exactly what you’d expect from a Mad-Max parody: Cars, rusty shotguns, and lots of BDSM gear. Did “Rickmancing the Stone” live up to the hype?
In my opinion…not really.

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Before we get into why I think this episode fell short, I’ll give credit where it’s due. The art direction in this episode is fantastic. A lot of post-apocalyptic artwork falls into what I call “Apocalyptia Generica,” a style that never quite becomes its own, but rather falls between Mad-Max and realistic urban warfare. For a perfect example of this, see Wasteland Angel.

“Rickmancing the Stone” certainly avoids being generic. Everything has a uniquely 80’s sci-fi style with brilliant and vibrant color schemes. Every single wastelander has a unique character design, even when there are dozens of them on screen at time. I would seriously take any establishing shot in this episode as a desktop wallpaper.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Tales from the Whatpad: Fallout Survivor

Wasteland legend tells of a tumbling pad of pallid paper filled with horrors beyond comprehension and meaning. Those who stumble across this legendary “Whatpad” rarely live to tell the tale…

“Tales from the Whatpad” is an dramatic reading of terrible post-apocalyptic fan fiction.

Fallout Survivor: www.fanfiction.net/s/12353653/1/Fallout-Survivor
Music by: www.bensound.com/