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NFL Quarterback Challenge

It’s odd having an NFL Quarterback Challenge game, when the event of the same name no longer exists. The yearly ESPN contest found its end in 2007, when ESPN refused to air the special due to the Michael Vicks dog fighting debacle. The only other games the event inspired consisted of a couple entries in the now defunct NFL Quarterback Club series, which featured a similar mini-game. This iPhone iteration is a little late to the party and fails on every level to inspire hope for any sort of network broadcast next year.

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NFL Quarterback Challenge places you behind an anonymous quarterback (number 00) of your favorite NFL team, spiraling the pigskin toward varying targets in a series of 10 stages. In order to progress to the next level, a “touchdown” meter must be filled, which is done by reaching a set number of points. Target type, accuracy, and distance are taken into account to determine point accumulation. Each level allows 40 seconds to fill said meter before either unlocking a new level or throwing you back to the main menu. The payoff for succeeding in a level is that your high scores can be submitted as entries into a drawing pool for Pro Bowl tickets.

During each game, the various targets representing NFL teams will intermittently spin to another team‘s logo or will vaguely animate to the left or right side of the screen, or back and forth when the developers feel ambitious. The size of the targets and the way in which they’re displayed change from level to level, and while some do move, it’s only by a little.

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Some early level designs include a series of three tire swings in a tropical setting, an airport runway with a plane that’s continuously rolling right and left for no good reason and eventually a football field where the ball is meant to be thrown at a cheerleader‘s pompoms while she cheers you on. At one point, I think I threw the ball to a cardboard cutout of a receiver, but the game‘s piss-poor hit detection insures that none of this will be all that memorable. Remembering that you’re only playing the game to win Pro Bowl tickets, however, almost numbs the pain.

Even the throwing function is flimsy, as it is inverted – intuitively or otherwise – to match the motion of a QB’s arm would make from the back of their helmet, downwards and in the opposite direction of where they’d like to throw the football. This is all wrong, and beyond the broken controls, there is the small issue of aiming. In a game that relies solely on accuracy, it’s a shame that no amount of practice will make for an easy target downfield. When Madden 10 handles passing so efficiently with the tap of a receiver’s indicator, all of the Challenge presented feels pretty unnecessary.

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Initially NFL Quarterback Challenge was set at an unreasonable $2.99 and now that it has slipped a couple dollars, it would seem more tempting. Yet, with Backbreaker: Tackle Alley, NFL 2010, and Madden 10 already released, there’s no use for Challenge. It wouldn’t be acceptable as a mini-game inside of a game and it’s not acceptable as a full iPhone title either. All three of the other aforementioned games are worth their price of admission on their own merits, so stick with them.

This is a highly disappointing reminder that the NFL isn’t what it once was and that they have apparently put little to no stock into the quality of a product bearing their license. I’d advise anyone still interested to buy Pro Bowl tickets and save themselves the trouble.

Review based on version 1.1

2 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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