We've given this guide a good refresh ahead of the 2024 Super Bowl, which takes place on 11th February and sees defending champions the Kansas City Chiefs go up against the San Francisco 49ers. There's a lot at stake here, so to help diffuse the tension, why not grab some game snacks and check out what American football games you can get on Nintendo Switch...
American football — or just football depending on where you are in the world. For some, it's a way of life. For others, it's another sport. But the thrill of watching teams duke it out over control of the ball is simply unmatched.
Given how huge the NFL is and the magnitude of the annual championship game, the Super Bowl (or Superb Owl for you witty types), you'd be surprised at how few American football games are out there, especially on Nintendo Switch. The Super Bowl is one of the world's biggest sporting occasions and — contrary to popular belief — there do exist a handful of non-Americans who enjoy it. Even though your humble scribe is (foolishly) a Chicago Bears fan, you'll find me watching the big games in the early hours in Britain while munching pretzels. It's the dream.
Anyway, Nintendo Switch and American football aren't the dream love affair we all want, but there are a handful of games you can get a touchdown in on the little hybrid console. And if it's football / soccer you're after, then it's good that the list is covered too.
So let's have a look at them in no particular order — the Best Nintendo Switch American Football Games, the Worst Nintendo Switch American Football Games... indeed, ALL the Nintendo Switch American Football Games. Enjoy!
Retro Bowl, like most games on this list, goes for a stylised approach inspired by Tecmo Bowl; it's rather addictive. You are General Manager / Head Coach / Quarterback in this game; the 'sim' part has you pick players in the draft, trade players, play nice with the owner, renew contracts, appease fans and more besides. The actual gameplay is all about dropping back and playing quarterback, and that's terrific fun. A cool distraction either in the build-up to a big game or to help you through the long, long off-season.
We didn't exactly shower this in praise in our review, but the developers did promise many moons ago to add missing content in a free update. Some do enjoy this game too, a spiritual successor to a cult classic on SEGA Mega Drive; it plays like 'real' football to an extent, though of course the concept means there are all sorts of extravagant and violent shenanigans taking place as well.
SNK produced a broad range of sports games for the Neo Geo, so naturally this is the American Football entry in the series. It has chunky sprites familiar to fans of the company's output, with some neat touches like over-the-top player celebration animations and a fancy spiralling ball when it's up in the air. As expected, of course, the Arcade Archives version on Switch has a lot of little goodies and options thanks to HAMSTER's work.
This is only available on the North American eShop (we can't find it on the UK store, in any case), with this being a premium iteration after a previous mobile release. It draws some inspiration from Tecmo Bowl but naturally offers more modern visuals, a faster pace and additional depth in terms of play selections. It also throws in some fighting for comedic effect, while a season mode has some RPG-lite twists. All told it's a game that seems to best suit modest expectations, short bursts and relaxed fun.
This is a game that has a place in many hearts, in particular the original NES release that provided (at the time) dizzying depth considering the technology. It's rather cool, then, that we can experience the more technically impressive version that was found in many arcades in the late '80s. It's surprising just how different it looks to the iconic 8-bit version, so if you're curious about what Tecmo could achieve without battling hardware limitations this eShop version is worth a look.
Coming from the publisher of such software as AAA Clock, AAA Clock Happy Edition, and AAA Clock Ultra Happy Edition (to name just three of the 38 AAA Clock classics available on the Switch eShop), we declined to review this one and therefore can't speak to its quality... or anything else about the game, in all honesty. It appears to be a race-based party game with football trappings, but at $14.99 we're not about to investigate to find out how much gridiron this one actually contains. We'd wager 'not much', though.
What's that? It spends most of the time on sale at just $1.99, does it? Nah, you're alright. We'll watch this one from the sidelines.
Yeah, we had to cheat to squeeze some more quality on this list. This is the rather different but fondly remembered NES version of the game. It's not on the eShop, but it is in the NES app for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. If that doesn't make NSO worth signing up to, then we don't know what to say...
10-Yard Fight is as bare-bones as one might expect from the first proper attempt at a proper American Football simulation. It's got no extras, no fancy audio or music (bar some good digitised speech), and none of the depth one might be used to in modern takes on the game. It is, however, a true piece of video game history and a brave effort by Irem that paved the way for other greats of the genre. If you were around at the time it was first released, you will certainly have as much fun with it today as you did back in 1983. As for the other video football enthusiasts out there, you're probably better off not making a play for this one.
Legend Bowl is a game packed with charm; an interesting hybrid of retro style and attempts at Madden-esque depth in the playbook and mechanics. It's full of heart and raises a smile with its humour and attention to detail; sadly it doesn't convert all of these positives across the board. Performance is improved following patches but still has space to get better, while some odd design and UI choices are hard to ignore. If you can look past the flaws, which could be dealt with in future updates, there are some real merits to Legend Bowl for fans of the sport; it just needs to get over the longest yard to reach its full potential.
We have to admit that Upside Down Bird's Axis Football 2023 passed us by. Billed as a "simulation-style" affair, "featuring the industry's best franchise mode, massive customization, and realistic gameplay," it certainly talks the talk. A quick trip to Metacritic shows only one critic review across all platforms, although it's an 85 for the PC version. So it's possible this is a gem despite the very uninspiring key art. Let us know in the comments if you've touched down with this one.
Wild Card Football is an ambitious take on the sport, with a decent mix of modes and pleasing depth for those keen to go all in. The offline Season mode may keep a lot of Switch players going, but once you dive into the Ultimate Team-style 'Dream Squad' you'll eventually feel the pull to take your hard-earned fantasy roster online. That's where a lack of fluidity and clarity in gameplay can really bite. A sport as frantic as American Football needs a slightly slicker performance level than we found here. However it's only just short of a first-down, so if you're happy to live with the compromises then this may still be worth a punt.
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And that's it, time for the victory formation. Let us know your favourites — and any we've somehow missed! — down in the comments.