Football was released in 1977 and it was labeled either Football or Football I depending on the date the game was released. This was the second game released by Mattel (Auto Race was the first) and sold through Sears. After less than 100,000 were made, Sears (using a computer model based on initial sales figures) determined that the games would not be big sellers, and most of the production for Football and Auto Race was stopped. Sears was definitely proven wrong. Within six months, it became obvious to that their prediction was false, and production was started up again and reached record levels.
The game was played by using direction keys to run a blinking red dot through a maze of defensive dots. A kickoff would result in a chirping version of the “Charge!” melody. A simple game and quite prehistoric when compared to the handheld games of today, the Football game was for football and football only. As for sound, it was dominated by bleeps and blips and it ran on a single 9V battery.
The game had two levels of play: Pro 1 and Pro 2. The graphics were all red lit dots and the player was the brightest of the six. The object was to get across the screen without getting tackled by the five remaining dots – a simple concept, but not easily accomplished.
Though its lack of true passing and inability to let the player run backwards limited the games overall realistic feel, it offered a compelling challenge to a generation quickly becoming fascinated with electronic entertainment. In fact, the game was re-issued by Mattel in 2000 thanks to its overwhelming popularity in the ‘70s.
The MuMoH physical collection includes an actual working model from 1977.