Disney Sports: Football combines the tried-and-true mechanics of football games with familiar Disney cartoon characters. The game does take a few liberties with the sport, but none of these alterations negatively affect the overall quality of the product. It's the kind of game that will appeal to all football fans, regardless of their level of knowledge of the sport.
The game includes nine teams, captained by Disney favorites such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pete. Play modes include challenge, exhibition, and practice. Although traditional sports games tend to have a better selection of available modes and options, Disney Sports: Football gets by on its gameplay, as well as the ability to unlock new team members and playbooks as you defeat the other teams.
On the field, the game plays like a cross between Madden NFL 2003 and NFL Blitz 2003. You can call plays and then run the field with any member of your team. If you need to catch an opposing receiver or avoid the other team's defense, you can dash, jump, or perform a spin maneuver to shake off opposing players. Overall, the AI of computer opponents is pretty good. They'll put pressure on your quarterback and call time-outs late in the game to preserve the clock. Two significant differences between Disney Sports: Football and traditional football are the fact that each team fields only five players at any given time and the fact that there aren't any penalties. These changes do make the game more aggressive than traditional football, but they don't diminish the strategy or play mechanics involved. Other enhancements include the land mines and magic items that are randomly placed on the field between each play. Land mines can stop a receiver dead in his tracks, while magic items allow you to throw rocket passes or drop anvils on your opponent. There are approximately 10 such items for both offensive and defensive use. If you wish, you can disable either of these options at any time.
One of the more impressive aspects of the game is its playbook. There are more than 80 offensive and defensive plays, and the play-calling screen is just as easy to use as those found in Madden, Blitz, or any other football video game. A nice thing about the selection of plays is that there is an equal number of automatic and iconic plays. If you're familiar with football video games, you'll know that iconic plays let you choose the receiver on the fly by pressing the appropriate button on the controller. Automatic plays, on the other hand, put the CPU in control of the quarterback, so when it sees an open man, it will make the pass and turn control of the receiver over to you. By including both iconic and automatic plays, Konami has made Disney Sports: Football accessible to beginners and experts alike.
Visually, the game doesn't look quite as nice as other Game Boy Advance games, but it is on par with the other football games available for the system. The camera offers a slightly tilted side view, which gives you a good view of the players around the line of scrimmage. The players themselves don't have a great deal of animation, but there's enough detail to allow you to tell who is who and allow the players to perform victory celebrations after every play. Off the field, the menu screens and quarterback introductions are very slick, and they seem appropriate to the Disney theme.
The audio, by contrast, is somewhat lacking. It's not bad by any means, but the peppy music and pistol-fire sound effects can only carry the onscreen action so far. As a Disney-themed game, Disney Sports: Football begs for the inclusion of actual character voices or music from any of the company's animated features.
In the end, Disney Sports: Football holds its own compared with the other football games that are available for the Game Boy Advance. The absence of a basic team-building mode, a few minigames, or at least some other method of drawing out the overall replay value is really the game's only significant shortcoming. Otherwise, it's an immensely fun product that should appeal equally to beginners and experts.