Seven hot and frenzied takes on the CFL’s new video game

The league released a new video game for iOS last week and so we asked our panel of current and former nerds, basement dwellers, football experts and digital savants to give us their opinion on CFL Frenzy. Here we go.

By Drew Edwards

A certain segment of the CFL community has been begging for a league-licensed video game for quite some time, especially given that the last one was released around the same time Ricky Martin was Livin’ la Vida Loca. And while the league has finally managed to get itself organized enough to produce a game, those hoping for something even vaguely Madden-esque are going to be disappointed.

Like much of its recent marketing efforts, the CFL has more or less ignored it’s existing fan base in order to pander to a group it covets, in this case the 8-to-14-year-old demo. Yes, this is a game for Tweens and we’re not talking about the undersized linebacker kind.

Still, there are some things I like about the game. Being able to play as a girl or as someone with skin tone other than pearl white is in keeping with the CFL’s progressive push. Seeing current players in the game is great. And every time I miss a field goal and “ROUGE!” pops up, I imagine everyone playing the Rod Black drinking game slamming back a shot.

But the game play is rudimentary, so much so that completing a pass seems based purely on AI randomness rather than skill. It’s still buggy, too: field goals that appear to go through the uprights – which are booted by the opposition quarterback, in yet another example of the Dangerfield-esque life of kickers – are sometimes no good (insert your own officiating joke here.) Also, a nifty pair of Tron-themed pants I won didn’t show up in my items list, leading me to scream “WHERE ARE MY GODDAMN PANTS!!!!” in the middle of a public place. Not cool.

I’m usually bound and determined to finish games to the end, sometimes to personally ruinous effects. But I got bored with this game pretty quick and I don’t see a huge payoff at the end – no playoffs or Grey Cup, no championship decided by a penalty flag or a replay call… I mean, where’s the fun in that?

Here’s hoping the CFL has enough success with this game to invest in a more sophisticated version. Or at least one with real kickers.

By John Hodge

The game may be silly, but it’s delightfully fun. The colours are bright, the graphics are smooth, and the equipment is hilarious. Dressing players up as sharks and gladiators? Yes, please.

The offensive playbook features just fourteen plays, which isn’t many — then again, I’ve heard an unconfirmed rumour that it’s a copy of Mike Kelly’s playbook from 2009. This would explain a child’s ability to execute it.

My only real criticism of the game would be the opposing team’s poor logic on third down. I’ve played a number of games in which the opposing team, down by a touchdown, will finish its final drive by kicking a field goal. The game would be more compelling if opposing teams went for it in these circumstances.

Still, it’s a good game. As a lifelong Madden fan, it’s cool to see CFL team logos, the waggle, and the rouge come to life in a video game. Hopefully this is just the first of many CFL-licensed games to come.


By Joel Gasson

My review won’t be as comprehensive as anyone else as I couldn’t actually download the game. That’s because I have an Android and rather than waiting for both platforms to be ready the league decided to ignore half the smartphone market off the bat. Sure, it’s coming, but if it’s “soon” like the league says then why not wait? I get that the game is aimed at kids and they probably predominantly have iPhones but they still could have rolled this out better.

By Josh Smith

I was skeptical of the game when I heard it was being released and when I finally had a chance to download it, my skepticism was confirmed. Don’t get me wrong, it is a fine game and it is cool to see actual CFL players represented in digital form, but it is very rudimentary and has very little replay value. It’s fun, but not for long.

Once you “beat” the game (winning all 20 games on your schedule) and buy all the cards to get all the alternative uniforms (there is a shark one, a Tron-inspired one, etc.) it becomes nothing more than a toilet game aka a game you will play while you *ahem* do your business in the bathroom.

There are also some big A.I. flaws, such as your opponent kicking a field goal on third down regardless of the score and situation, and the defence seems to be there just to be there. You can’t create a turnover or get a sack, so essentially you have to just hope the opposing offence runs a play that is unsuccessful.

Possessions also begin from the 35 and teams have two turns with the ball, so the entire game is basically the CFL’s overtime format. So when the game says it has the CFL field, that is not entirely true since you really only play on 35 of the 110 yards.

It is an app game, so I wasn’t expecting much and what we got wasn’t much. It isn’t a bad game, and some fun can be had, but it is only scratching the surface of what CFL fans have been clamouring for. Some small tweaks, like allowing for some type of online multiplayer or having a playoff mode of some sort or even just allowing gamers to move their players around, would give this game a much higher replay value and make it a little more fun for older gamers. Wouldn’t this game be immensely more enjoyable if you could play one of your friends?

As it stands, CFL Football Frenzy is an OK game that will likely be played a lot for about a week or two and then will join Candy Crush, Angry Birds and Words With Friends in the app game graveyard. It is a good first step, but hopefully it isn’t the final step.

By Santino Filoso

CFL Football Frenzy might be aimed at kids, but I certainly had a blast playing it.

While it’s far from a perfect game (the computer will always kick a field goal on 3rd down, even if trailing by more), at its core, CFL Frenzy is simple to play and more importantly, fun.

The CFL’s overtime format is the best in pro football and being able to jump in and play two mini-games vs the computer is a blast. It puts an emphasis on pushing the ball down the field and as you play, you feel a heightened sense of urgency knowing that you can’t afford to waste a possession.

Although the playbook is limited (featuring only 14 plays) and although it’s impossible to force a turnover, for an initial video game, the league got it mostly right. To me, the biggest thing missing is the ability to play against other people online.

Hopefully, CFL Football Frenzy is a stepping stone to a larger “real” video game, such as a licensed console or PC title.

By Joey Alfieri

I love what the CFL has done here. It’s really cool to see a game with CFL rules and players. It’s fun, it’s simple and I think CFL fans will get a kick out of it. Hopefully there’s a more “Madden-like” game on the way in the near future, but for a first game, I like this one. There are a couple of aspects of the game that need work. For example, if your opponent is down by more than a field goal on their final possession, they’ll still line up to attempt a field goal if you force them into a third down situation. I’d like for them to go for it with the game on the line. Also, tackling with the defensive player selected by the user is a little difficult, but that might just be me! I highly recommend the game.