I think I made a huge mistake.
These were the first words to leave my mouth after loading up Cyberball 2072. Not that I was about to play a bad game, I just didn't know what I was getting into when I took on the game. I had confused Cyberball, an old-school American football game, with Rollerball, an old-school pinball game.
You see, I don't play football games. While I could tell you what a quarterback is, and how many points you get for a touchdown, I couldn't tell you what a fullback is, or how many points you get for a conversion. If I were to ever pick up a copy of Madden, I would be over my head immediately after leaving the opening menu.
But what I found was a game stripped of everything that I don't know about football. This retro title uses fictional coaches and teams, then fills them with robots whose stats can be upgraded mid-game. Kicking and receiving are automatic, and you are given a choice of four plays under each heading of passing play, running play, or option play. Score a touchdown for a chance at the conversion, and a few extra points. When on defense, decide from your close, medium or long defensive play headings, and you are again given four different plays for each.
When on offense, you always play quarterback until the ball is thrown. When on defense, you can toggle the robot you control until the play begins. In both situations, only one button is used - the A button will either throw the ball or provide your defender with a quick rocket boost.
This is a simple football game that manages to be complicated enough to keep everyone happy. Because you only control one player after you select the play, it could seem like the game plays its self to a large degree. However, I found the placement of my player was generally key to the play, and never felt I wasn't in direct control of the team. Advanced users may feel somewhat limited by only four plays at one time, but I found it makes the game accessible and encourages improvisation.
The only possible hang-up might be that the computer opponents can only provide so much of a challenge, and while this isn't a problem for a newbie like me, a pro player is likely to get bored quickly. Xbox Live functionality is there for player versus player, but the online community has dwindled, and I was not able to connect to anyone for a match. Local play is an option, but is co-op only.
The sound and graphics, likewise, are nothing to write home about. While a faithful rendering of its 1989 roots, I can't help but feel this game would've done better if it had seen a graphical overhaul. Robot football has a definite "cool factor", and had this game been restored and tweaked, it could have been the must-buy XBLA game of the season.
Don't get me wrong, this game has aged well in that it plays great. Still, this game will appeal mainly to fans of the original, who will likely hate the lack of XBLA community. The 400 point price is about right, and I'd recommend this game to just about anybody willing to give it a shot. Even in single player, there is plenty of fun to be had, which is probably more than you can say about Rollerball.