Aussie Rules Footy

Australia, 1991

Videogame Videogames
Photograph by Egmont Contreras

Aussie Rules Footy was Beam Software’s first Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) sports game developed exclusively for the Australian market. Despite simple controls, its clever design captured the high-energy, competitive spirit of the sport, featuring spectacular high marking and pushing other players out from under a mark.

It also contained Beam’s signature sense of humour. Though voice samples were unusual in NES games of the era, Aussie Rules Footy used voice lines like the deadpan umpire’s “out of bounds on the full”, which complemented the droll text-based commentary between quarters.

Despite the official AFL logo on the box, it’s unlikely the game was licensed, which could be why the 18 playable teams don’t match their real-life counterparts, with curious inclusions like Darwin, Canberra and Hobart.

Curator Notes

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.

Despite the simplicity of the controls, the NES game captures the nuance and flow of the actual sport. Its design also takes into account the importance of spectacle within the actual sport and supports impressive 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. And a cutscene 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 Software.

Despite the official AFL logo on the box the game does not appear to have been licensed during its development. The teams themselves do not match the league at the time and there are curious additions such as Darwin, Canberra, Perth and Hobart.

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