No matter where you stand on the ongoing debate over compensating college football players for use of their name, image and likeness, we can all agree that the absence of a college football video game this year is a disappointment for fans. Without one, how are you going to fill the long, dark, lonely gap between Saturday night MWC games and Tuesday night MACtion? Talking to your loved ones? Reading? [slaps books out of hand] Knock it off with that crap, nerd.
Just because EA backed down doesn't mean I'm going to. There's a rich, wonderful library of college football games out there that you haven't even bothered to explore until now! I hoofed it over to my local GameStop (I did not do this and I never will) to check out some of the lesser-known titles that might've slipped under your radar in busier years. Just look what I found!
SCHEMATIC ADVANTAGE (Game Boy, $3 used)
It's football season, and *you're* the coach in this rollicking text-based strategy game! Pilot Coach Weis from job to job, exhibiting a wildly disproportionate sense of accomplishment relative to your success. Build your credibility with athletic directors, and try to rack up the highest possible buyout when fired! In SCHEMATIC ADVANTAGE, the only winning move... is to lose!
BEAMERBALL (Nintendo, $8, in original packaging)
It's impossible to tell if this game was released in 1989 or 2013. Gameplay's the same. Still better than Paul Johnson's Triple Option Solitaire.
DR. SPURRIO (Nintendo, $32, autographed cartridge)
(Image owes a debt to this terrifying magazine cover)
This puzzle game puts you in control of our hero, the valiant Dr. Spurrio (note: he is not a doctor, no matter what he told you). Fight off the advance of rivals by pitching just the right kind of shade to taunt, belittle and undermine them where it hurts. Even if you lose, you're still a winner, because dangnabbit, you ain't named 'Dabo'.
BAGMAN'S BURDEN: CRISIS IN THE GROVE (Super Nintendo, $15, collector's edition gold cartridge)
In this Zelda-esque RPG, you join the secretive elite of shadow boosters, navigating your way through the seemy underbelly of off-the-books collegiate recruiting. Can you funnel your gold to interested prospects? Can you avoid the wandering gaze of pernicious compliance officials and meddling investigative reporters? Only The Bagman can know in the end.
GOLDENPANTS007 (Nintendo64, $28)
Assume the role of Hawkeye Secret Intelligence Service agent Hercules "Herky" Hawk as he fights to prevent a criminal syndicate from using their "Cyclone" weapon against Iowa City to cause a B1G West financial meltdown. (Honestly, you're mostly just throwing ears of corn at Paul Rhoads, and it's terrific.)
HELF-ZERO GX (GameCube, $18)
"The fastest football game you'll ever play!", the box boasts, and it's no lie! Step into the 120-frames-per-second shoes of the racing Oregon Ducks, as you fly through the Pac-12 and try to avoid crashing into a tree!
MICHIGAN MAN 2 (Nintendo, $238 for some reason)
Control the titular hero, a junior economics major from Scarsdale, as he confronts the many brands of lesser person that deign to threaten and demean his notion of civil society! Collect their weapons! Use them against other foes while declaring it beneath you! Lose at the boss level, but sneer that you'll be *their* boss someday!
Okay, you know what? These games are all pretty freaking lousy. Maybe used games wasn't the way to go. I wonder if there's anything fresh out there for mobile gaming. Let's check the App Store!
Whoo boy. Let's hope EA strikes a deal for 2015.