Aussie Rules Footy was the first Australian Rules Football (AFL) game for console (1). It was developed by Beam Software and published under their Laser Beam Entertainment identity that Fred Milgrom created to publish Nintendo games locally. The game was only released in Australia.
Aussie Rules Footy is a sport simulation of Australian Rules Football. Played only in Australia, Australian Rules Football is a fast paced form of football popular in some Australian states that is believed to originate from the Indigenous game Marngrook and possibly Gaelic Football.
Aussie Rules Footy for the NES is a 3rd person perspective sports simulation. It has 3 player modes ‘Single Match’, a ‘Season’  or the ‘Kick-to-Kick Training Session’. It can be played player versus the computer or player versus player. All reviews advocate the superiority of player versus player for both fun and challenge. But the AI was also seen to do a reasonable job within the constraints. A ‘Single Match’ offers play against the computer or as two player. For a ‘Season’ game one, four or six players can play multiple games round robin style. The one player game supports six matches, the four player game eight matches and the six player version nine matches. All rounds played in ‘Season’ mode culminate in a grand final match. The highest scoring team wins a match. Scoring is 6 points for a goal and a single point for a behind.
Aussie Rules Footy follows a simplified version of AFL rules. A player can control any members of their team who are active when the ball is in their range. An arrow above a footballer indicates who the player is actively controlling. To move the football, the player with the ball can either kick or handball it. A footballer controlled by the player without the ball can either mark the ball or tackle an opposition player for the ball. 

Despite the simplicity of the controls, the game is recognised as doing a good job of capturing the nuance and flow of the actual sport. Its design also took into account the importance of spectacle within the actual sport and supports theatrical high marking and the capacity to land some more tricky goals from afar, the sides and on the move
Adding to the games appeal was a commentator who provides amusingly banal observations of the match play as text plus cutscenes of an umpire whose audibly declares when the ball is “out of bounds on the full”. Voice samples were unusual in NES games of the era and the technology for this had been developed in-house by Beam. The audio sound bite is fondly remembered by players as the games signature audio.
Players can choose from eighteen teams. The teams, however, do not quite match the league at the time. There are curious additions such as Darwin, Canberra, Perth and Hobart, None of which were real teams of the era.

The full list of Aussie Rules Footy playable teams: 

  • Adelaide
  • Brisbane
  • Carlton
  • Canberra
  • Collingwood
  • Darwin
  • Essendon
  • Fitzroy
  • Footscray
  • Geelong
  • Hawthorn
  • Melbourne
  • Hobart
  • North Melbourne
  • Perth
  • Richmond
  • St Kilda
  • Sydney Swans 

(1) Earlier games inclcude the 1989 Australian Rule Football released by Clockwize in the UK for the Commodore 64 (also available on the Spectrum and Amstrad CPC). It UK origins may explain why its gameplay hardly resembled Australian Rules Football, inciting horror in actual fans of the sport who encounter it. It was not the only micro-computing offering with a kick-to-kick mini game in Beam Software Aussie Games of 1989 for the Commodore 64.

Version Information

AFL Licence
Despite the official AFL logo on the box the game does not appear to have be licensed during its development. Its title “Aussie Rules Footy” whilst an affectionate and “matey” use of the popular vernacular began perhaps a dodge to avoid using the offical title. 
Only ever released in Australia the game is a bit of novelty for NES fans globally. Whilst its rarity has not propelled it into being a  desirable collectable it is featured online in quite a few comedic Lets Plays by NES fans from North America and Europe. These players lacking any comprehension of the actual sport struggle to make sense of the videogame  These Lets Plays are a fun contribution to fan investigations of videogame history. However, there is the risk that their dominant online presence framing Aussie Rules Footy as a novelty can start to obscure the fact that for Australian gamers it is recognised as both a very good simulation of their beloved sport and a very well designed videogame. Australian videoblogger Minimme in his  comrehensive 2020 survey of AFL videogames notes “that lots of people not only consider it to be the best footy game but the only good footy game” (1)
(1) a sentiment echoed by fans comments on RetroGamingAustralia’s Let Play

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