Attention Hazard fans, Superbowl Sunday is upon us this weekend and before we begin chowing down on Polish Sausages, sauerkraut and foamy drinks and inducing those junk food induced heart palpitation, it’s time to reflect on a simpler yet more Hazard-ous time.
The year was 1994 and a so-called other ex-football coach was making tremendous momentum with a official playbook style football sim and us folks on the business side wanted a piece of the pie. Of course we needed to be unique from the others and not a simple copycat. There were already football games out there that focused on aliens, roided-out players, 10 yard scores and bootlegs to a famous San Francisco fullback.
Like where many great videogame ideas begin, we got together around the board table and started fleshing out ideas. With us being very shooter-savvy at Marathon Software we came up with the idea of including a sports/shooter game where a certain player during the huddle will be handed a handgun and his duty would be to defeat the opposing team of Prison Robots on the football field. Object of the game was to score the most points while keeping your 11 players on the field from your original 53 to win the game.
That idea came from one of our marketing fellows who for some reason was going through a huge white tank top and leather coat phase in his life and thought of this idea after sitting through some movie about a last cadet, no boy scout or something. However, the idea did not pass focus testing as a mature football videogame would not slide with mainstream populations.
One idea that did latch on was that we did look into creating a perennial Mike Ditka Football videogame series that could light up the charts However, Marathon Software had invested their cash flow poorly and was beginning to feel the pinch from their fleet of corporate jets. They began to look for ways to branch out all of their licensed properties, when a love affair involving some stalwart Chicago Bears fans and there head coach had inspired some of the designers to pimp out this Hall of Fame coach with a special Matt Hazard.
What started as an idea of Mike Ditka vs. the 1994 New York Giants morphed into Mike Ditka vs. the World in which he faced off against other fit badasses such as Ditka vs. Norris, Ditka vs. Seagal, Ditka vs. Lundgren, and Ditka vs. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The whole idea would culminate around the ultimate boss battle/opponent level “Mike Ditka vs. Matt Hazard: It’s Supper Time Bitches”. By synergizing two strong brands and making a bid to purchase one of the most expensive Super Bowl commercials involving lots of free beer, hot chicks, towers of pizza, Oompa Loompa actors, and a baby’s smile…Mike Ditka vs. The World could have been the beginning of a long lasting franchise. Unfortunately, Marathon Software was still throwing dollar after dollar to the follow-up to their award winning 2D shooter and that idea crashed faster than a bug into a windshield.
Luckily from this, we learned at Marathon that partnering our popular character Matt Hazard with another star can prove to be rewarding and luckily it made millions with the Matt and Dexter series.
Good luck to all in the Super Bowl and just be thankful you aren’t playing Ditka cause it would be Ditka 192 – 2. Believe that!