Impressions: Backbreaker Football: Tackle Alley

To some people, there’s nothing better than a good old fashioned game of football. I’m not one of those people. In fact, I couldn’t tell you the first thing about the sport, save from the fact that you make touchdowns and there’s a lot of showboating involved when said touchdowns are made. And why shouldn’t there be? With that said, I approached NaturalMotion’s Backbreaker Football: Tackle Alley for the iPod and iPhone with much trepidation, but with an open mind. Football and me? Yeah, right.

But what I discovered was something much different from the typical beast that I am so used to seeing my buddies living it up on Xbox Live playing. This was no Madden or NFL title. No, it was something better. It was…fun. It effectively takes what I would consider the true allure of the sport and rolls it all into one bite-sized package that’s perfect for tossing around some pigskin while traveling or laying in bed at night.

You won’t find any full-fledged games in Backbreaker. Instead, it runs the gamut between different mini games that you’ll complete in several easy ways rather than the complicated maneuvers you’ll find in big brothers Madden and several similar games. You’ll need to juke, spin, and sprint past pesky other players in order to run the ball past the end zone. The most fun of football is scoring a touchdown, right?

In order to do this, you’ll need to tilt your device forward to sprint down the field, and tilt left or right to avoid oncoming players who’d like nothing more than to take your sorry butt down. It’s almost like the controls you’d find in a racing title. For a football-related game it works very well. All you need to do is manage to avoid players who wish to impede your journey to the Shangri-La of football.

You’ll start of simple, relying on simple jukes and tilting, and when you’ve managed to get the basics down the game tosses in a slight variation – red lines that require you to run between them in order to evade those pursuing you. Step out of them and it’s game over.  Literally. You’ll need to restart the level, so it’s imperative that you stay between the crimson boundaries. As you make your way down these lines to the end zone and juke your way past the other team, you’ll notice a showboat icon that pops up when you’ve faked out the final opposing team’s defender. You can choose to make a fool of yourself, prancing around like you own the field all the way to the goal. Yes, you’ll be high stepping all over the place as long as you hold the button down.

But beware. Acting as if you’re all that has its disadvantages, especially as you’re not immune to the fallen players who you downed on the field. They can still get up and come after you while you’re showing off to the world, so beware. While you’re busy thumping your chest someone can come up from behind and take you down like a sack of potatoes. This is arguably the funniest part of the game, as it’s always fun to attempt to show off when you think you’re in the clear, then WHAM! Back to reality.

That’s just about it. No overly complicated rules to follow, playbooks to keep track of, or even licensed players to complain about the stats of. Just simple and addictive gameplay that makes the (most basic) fundamentals of football accessible to anyone.

The player models are also quite impressive, as is the arena in which you play in. It’s a gorgeous game for the platform and shows off its capabilities very well, especially considering its price. Replays of particularly impressive plays are available, and the admirable rag doll physics engine makes for some interesting mishaps when players should happen to collide.

Whether or not you’re a casual or hardcore pigskin fan, Backbreaker Football Tackle Alley is a simple and engaging app that should find a home on your iPhone/iPod Touch, even if you haven’t a shred of knowledge regarding the popular sport. Anyone can pick it up and play in bite-sized chunks for a great rush of adrenaline that fits and performs well on the small screen. And if you decide that this might be your gateway drug to games such as Madden or playing the real sport, then by all means give this little delight a try. If it could convert this traditional non-sport gaming fan, you know you won’t be disappointed.

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