Developer: NaturalMotion
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★★
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★★
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

If you’re as obsessive about football games as I am, you’ve undoubtably heard of NaturalMotion’s foray into the very sparse genre. The NFL’s exclusivity deal with EA is held with the same regard as Apple’s exclusivity deal with AT&T; that is to say, it sucks a lot. A sports game without real professional teams and players are almost certainly doomed to obscurity.

While Madden NFL Football has managed to keep producing a good product, those looking for any sort of variety have been neglected. Backbreaker Football on the iPhone manages to curb some of that hunger for variety. While Natural Motion is in the process of creating a console version of Backbreaker, their foray into the App Store gives a very satisfying preview of what could be; a damn good new football franchise.

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One of the reasons why Backbreaker Football is able to offer such an entertaining experience is the simple control scheme. The best control schemes, on iPhone games at least, need to do three things. They need to be simple, they need to be responsive, and most importantly they need to feel natural. The only thing more awkward than playing a game with controls that are completely counter intuitive is Tiger Woods giving his apology. Nobody wants that. This control scheme is very effective. On both bottom corners, you are given a button to juke, and a button to spin. Above these buttons on the right side is a turbo button, and on the left side a button to showboat. Simply tilt the iPhone forward to run and turn. As you juke defenders you will rack up combos, and the more guys you juke in a row, the more points you’ll be rewarded with. As you progress through levels, highlighted zones will appear on the field, and performing jukes and spins in these areas will give you even more points. As you shake past the final defender, you can showboat into the end-zone, and the further out you start to showboat, the more points you get. The catch is that showboating slows down your player, allowing for defenders chasing you down to catch up and knock you down before reaching the end-zone.

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One of the complaints from a few folks I’ve talked to is the lack of variety in Backbreaker Football. It consists of only two game modes: Challenge, and Endurance. The Challenge Mode has you racking up points to earn medals. As you move forward in the challenges, defenders will become more plentiful and more aggressive and the playing field becomes smaller. The other game mode is endurance. You’re subjected to 50 waves of defenders that, just as in challenge mode, will become greater in numbers and more aggressive as you progress. Sure, this can get a little repetitive, but that’s okay. Backbreaker does one thing and does it really well. The game can get pretty difficult, but was never really frustrating. It’s easy to pick up and play, even on your first try.

While there isn’t much variety in this game, it doesn’t need it. Those in the west coast are familiar with In-N-Out. The menu is ridiculously simple. How big do you want your burger, and what do you want on it? Sure, it’s simple, but it’s goooood. NaturalMotion definitely scores a touchdown with their miniature version of Backbreaker Football.

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