Review: Jerry Rice and Nitus Dog Football

There are several examples of enjoyable shovelware out there, but Jerry Rice and Nitus Dog Football isn’t one of them. While it’s friendly enough and offers a variety of modes for the discerning dog football player, in the end it’s just another bark in the wall when it comes to the Wii’s end-of-life cycle.

Now before you get curious and ask just what, exactly, are we going to be playing with instead of a football, the answer is nothing! This is still football! You’re not throwing dogs or bones through the air; you’re playing with a team of adorable little canines on both sides. However, the very same rules of football will still apply (much to my chagrin). A human quarterback accompanies your furry friends and will perform kicks and passes while the rest of the breeds of dogs perform subsequent plays. Available for play are some of the most banal stereotypes ever: a soccer mom, ditzy high school girl, and even a skater. Really. There’s even an Eskimo girl. I’m not sure what they were trying to do here, but in all honesty it’s a little embarrassing. I preferred the cuddly dogs to their human companions.

Play modes are split into offense and defense, and you can choose which way you want to play if you win the coin toss at the beginning of each play (you can choose between playing a single game or committing to an entire season, an ordeal I wouldn’t exactly recommend). Offense is decidedly more interactive and enjoyable than than defense, however. You may choose from three rudimentary plays, which seem to be random, and using the Wii remote’s motion control to maneuver a bone cursor you can guide your players down the field. You’ll need to shake the remote in a flicking motion to toss the ball, fling it, and control the direction you’re throwing, which was more than a little finicky at times, and felt like much more work than pressing a button. I suppose this was trying to add to the “realism” factor?

Defense is a little different. All you really need to worry about is controlling the dog you choose to run down the field. A simple shake of the Wii remote will pull off a tackle. I’m no football guru and so I had a little bit of difficulty understanding each play, so I appreciated the automated mode that let me hold down the A button and let those wagging tails run on their own. If only the rest of the game were automated.

While the fantasy environments (concert arenas, beaches, space) are entertaining enough and definite draws for the younger crowd, Dog Football still remains a low-quality game. Textures are rough and jagged, these graphics barely pass the GameCube mark, and motion controls are sloppy. The cursor would get lost on-screen at certain points thanks to its hypersensitivity, and overall it’s just trying to present a real-world football game with dogs that doesn’t work in the cute way they tried to present. Tackling is an iffy procedure, and when you can drop the ball 4 times out of 10 when attempting to throw down the field, something’s amiss.

While the music is decent (one menu screen’s music sounds exactly like a track straight from Mario) and the premise is zany and likeable enough, in the end despite practice modes, multiplayer, and kid/family appeal, Jerry Rice and Nitus Dog Football simply falls flat…right into the bargain bin. If you wanna play some football with your kids, I’d suggest finding a real mascot to play it with.

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