A NintendoFuse game review by Jeremy Hardin (JHardin1112)
Game – Jerry Rice and Nitus’ Dog Football
Version – Nintendo Wii
ESRB Rating: ‘E’ – Everyone
Obtained – Review copy from Judo Baby
I have gone back and forth on how to write this review. Honestly, when I first opened the package and saw this game inside, my heart sank. I admit, I was disappointed. In fact, by the time I fired up Dog Football and played a practice round, I had already wrote the game off as shovel-ware and stuck it back in my shelf. Fast forward two weeks to this past weekend. Everyone in my house was sick so we quarantined ourselves inside. I was so sick I had to stay home both Monday and Tuesday until my fever subsided. Anyways, by Monday I was going stir crazy and in my sickly cabin-fever induced state I decided I should give Jerry Rice and Nitus’ Dog Football another chance and I’m glad I did. I ended up playing 7 games out of the season and surprisingly, I really enjoyed myself. Of course, it would have been more enjoyable if I had someone to play with, but then again, I can’t fault my children for being too young to play…or my wife for not really being a gamer.
Gameplay and Controls
Judo Baby took the love of dogs and combined it with the love of football and backed it all with an endorsement from retired pro Jerry Rice to bring us Dog Football. When you play Dog Football, you’re going to be playing a game unlike any other game you have ever played before. Sure, it has the word football in it so obviously you must be playing football. While the overall goal is the same, scoring touchdowns for points, the gameplay is definitely different than let’s say, a Madden game.
Players control a very cliched human QB along with a team of dog players. The goal of Jerry Rice and Nitus’ Dog Football, is to win the coveted Golden Hydrant Trophy. Players can accomplish this by playing a full season across 12 different fields, utilizing 14 QB’s (including Rice), and 20 different breeds of dogs. Not to mention, there are 185 plays at your disposal and 250 unlockables in the game. In addition, the fields are all themed and designed like an obstacle course. As your receiver runs down the field and jumps over, crawls under or through obstacles they will earn Agility Reward Factor (ARF) points. These points accumulate and are earned upon completion of a touchdown or punt. The former nets you the full points, while the latter rewards you with half points. Also, you can earn ARF point on the defensive and steal them from your opponents. Scattered throughout each field are gift boxes which contain random items, or cash, or both. To mix it up even further, there are obstacles you must dodge while running a play, and animals on the field which can possibly scare your players depending on their size. Speaking of size, the dogs are separated into 3 size categories, small, medium, and large. Based on their size, each dog has different skills which factor into their play ability on the field. If that wasn’t enough, Judo Baby decided to throw in different types of balls which have different attributes, such as higher accuracy when thrown. On top of that, you can also purchase treats to give one of your dogs before each play which can temporarily give them bonus attributes, such as a speed boost.
There are some minor customization options available, if that’s your thing. You are able to switch out your dog’s jersey, collar, hat, or shoes. For the QB, you can change out their outfit, hair, hat, facial hair, shoes. You can also adjust your lineup, rename your dogs, and also rename your team.
Now, on to the controls.
There is a minor annoyance with the controls which only affect the offensive player and I’ll go ahead and get that out of the way. In order to hike the ball you must press and hold A and flick your remote up, to execute the play you need to let go of A and flick your remote down. This is not a problem by itself, however the moment you pass the ball off, the on screen cursor becomes active. This on screen cursor, shaped like a bone, is needed to direct your dogs where to go each play. However, once the cursor becomes active after executing a play you’re not always pointing directly at your sensor bar. So the issue here is that you can lose a couple of seconds trying to find your cursor and line it up.
Once you hike the ball you have up to three different dogs who will bark. You will always throw the ball to the dog which barked last, so remember this. When a dog barks there is a visible marker near them indicating they are the intended receiver. As I mentioned above, you control your dog with an onscreen cursor which they will follow. The interesting thing for parents is that there is an auto assist feature, called Auto Dog, which is activated by holding down the A button during a play. On offense, your dog will find the best route to the end zone and automatically run to it. On defense, your dog will automatically chase down the nearest opponent. So this is really a great help when playing with younger children so they won’t get frustrated during gameplay.
Visuals and Sound
The visuals didn’t wow me and they won’t wow you. I’m not saying they’re bad, in fact they’re decent. Everything is themed, so each field is consistent with its theme and looks good. The teams jerseys and dogs all match the QB and the associated themes. The graphics are fun and cool looking, but nothing to get really excited about. The music is pretty good, if you’re a fan of ska and luckily for me, I am. Or at least, I was back in the 90’s. I’m not kidding, right from the title screen, the music sounds like 90’s Ska, which honestly, really works in this game. The music is upbeat, fun and enjoyable to listen to. The sounds on the other hand were just a little to generic and dry. I think the next time around Judo Baby could get better recordings done for the voice-overs and sound effects. Of course, that’s just my opinion. The only other thing I really noticed while playing is the slow framerate on loading screens and between plays. In fact, on the loading screens there is a crab juggling (don’t ask) and the juggling speed changes and you can tell there are some hiccups going on. Let me assure you though, these will not take away from the gameplay experience, you’ll still really enjoy yourself.
Concluding Overall Impressions
Dog Football is clearly geared towards younger kids and families with quirky, humorous gameplay, dogs for players, oddball QB’s and themed locales. Plus the short quarters, easy controls, and auto assist feature are sure to create an inviting gameplay experience for younger children. So, if you’re a parent of younger children, like me, or if you just want to enjoy some laid back football with dogs, grab a copy of Jerry Rice and Nitus’ Dog Football. It’s a good title for a budget price and I think it deserves a spot in your library.
Final Score: 4 out of 5