Developer & Publisher: Saber Interactive
Reviewed For: Nintendo Switch
Also Available On PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
Sports games don’t have a great home in the Nintendo Switch, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for arcade entries. Most of the big simulation games fall short of greatness, though there are a few well-made entries like MLB The Show. The FIFA and NBA 2K series haven’t put out solid entries yet, but at least those have some decent alternatives in the arcade scene. American Football has had it especially rough, with not even a real attempt at a simulation game from Madden, the most popular series. There is Retro Bowl and Legend Bowl, and both of those are excellent, but some will want their favorite players in their football game.
Wild Card Football is the first American Football game on the Switch, and while it doesn’t have NFL teams, it has the NFLPA’s backing to bring players from the league to the arcade experience. Yes, this is yet another arcade football game, but unlike the other two mentioned earlier, this one doesn’t feature retro visuals. Fans of games like Backyard Football might find themselves connecting to the visual style of Wild Card Football. Ridiculous proportions shape the bodies, making this a casual-looking experience that is silly to look at.
Fortunately, it’s pretty fun too. The game embraces a 7-on-7 arcade-style approach, reminiscent of NBA Playgrounds, focusing on simplified playbooks and mechanics. Still, the controls play a lot like Madden, so anyone familiar with football video games will likely be comfortable. Movements are janky but the gameplay is solid from game to game. It’s not perfect, but it’s at least fun.
The arcade-style is emphasized by the “wild card” system, which gives players a deck of cards that give power-ups from play to play. Some make players faster, stronger, or even debuff enemies. It’s fun to play with for a game or two, but this system often feels more like a gimmick than a strategic element. Fortunately, this can be turned off. Even the environments can even be tweaked by the wild cards. These cards act a lot like the environmental hazards in Mutant Football League.
Players can play against AI or with other players online or offline. The AI makes tons of questionable decisions, from playcalling to clock management. Multiplayer games are as great as the players are and can extend Wild Card Football‘s playtime. The single-player modes are limited, with the basic season mode and the Dream Squad being the primary offerings. Dream Squad, is pretty much just Ultimate Team mode. There isn’t a full franchise mode, which is disappointing.
Wild Card Football
While Wild Card Football offers a fun, arcade-style twist on American football with its quirky visuals and simplified gameplay, its lack of strategic depth and single-player modes may leave some players wanting more.