Bones Jackson. Joe Magician. Scary Ice.
If you were a sports gamer back on the Sega Genesis, these names mean as much to you as the real players they were parodying in EA’s classic title, Mutant League Football. It was an extremely violent and gory game where monsters not only ruled the gridiron, they could fall to their death through a fire pit on the field, or blow to bits thanks to the old detonating ball trick.
In fact, the game was so brutal/popular, EA produced a spinoff with Mutant League Hockey (exploding pucks!), and there was even a cartoon based on the series that ran from 1994 to 1996.
“Fans still talk about the game today, and they all want the same thing, they all want a new version,” says the man behind the mutants, Michael Mendheim. “Over the past 20 years, you wouldn’t believe how many people have written me asking for a new Mutant League game.”[contextly_sidebar id=”38f20a3956f2f420e555634bd1d2b5ff”]Mendheim created the series for EA back in the early 90s, and is now seeking $750,000 via Kickstarter to bring the classic franchise (now named Mutant Football League) to iOS, Android, PC/Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, and the PlayStation Network on this, the 20th anniversary of Mutant League Football’s release.
The Kickstarter campaign has already earned over $100,000 of its goal, but with only 14 days left, fans of the series are going to need to kick it into gear if they want to see the franchise return.
“If we don’t reach our goal, if we don’t get the backing, we’ll be done and we’ll have to move on to another project,” says Mendheim. “We need money to build the game, and without the money, I can’t fund the game myself. I’m not a rich guy. So if we don’t get the money, we’ll have to put it back to bed.”
As for why EA Sports never brought Mutant League Football back into play, Mendheim believes it’s all about branding.
“EA was extremely excited about the game back when we did it, but when they brought Madden to the Genesis from the PC, Madden just completely blew up, and it was at that point they decided that they wanted to be a real sports company, focusing on real sports games,” he explains. “I don’t know why they killed the brand, but if I had to take a guess, Mutant League Football didn’t fit into a real sports company. They were just starting their new brand strategy, and they wanted to be the publisher who built the best sports games in the world. They had just delivered NHL Hockey, which was a smash hit, they had now two years of Madden, and they wanted a crystal clear brand message, and Mutant League would’ve confused that brand.”
Too bad, as I always hoped for a cross between Madden and Mutant League where I could make the virtual Ben Roethlisberger fall into toxic waste, then kill the ref for making a bad call.
“We always played off the real NFL stars, just mixing their names around,” says Mendheim. “Bones Jackson was based off of Bo Jackson, and with all of the things going on in today’s NFL, we figured this would be a good time to bring the game back. It was all about parodying the lunacy that goes on in the NFL. In our game, you could bribe the ref, and you could even kill the ref if you didn’t like a call on the field. All of this really made the game unique from any other game that’s out there. And while I won’t drop any names here, I know a few NFL players who were really into the game.
I would love to bring it back, but right now, it’s all up to the people to help us fund our new game. On the plus side we have a ton of loyal, ravenous fans who want the game so bad, it’s unbelievable. But on the other side, we have really low population … we’re still under 1,000 people who are backing us. I know we have tens of thousands of fans out there, so I’m unsure why we don’t have more backers at the moment. Maybe we haven’t reached them all yet, but hopefully in the next couple of weeks we can get on a roll and reach our goal. I’d love to get another opportunity to bring the mutants and monsters back onto the field.”
Want to see how dirty Ndamukong Suh would play as a Mutant? Visit Kickstarter where $2 will get you a mobile version of the game, and $2,500 will get you onto the field as a character, complete with a voice-over session to add your signature catch phrase to your mutant.