American football video games allow fans to experience the hard-hitting action and strategy of the sport in a virtual setting. Ever since early digital titles like Tecmo Bowl captured gamers’ imaginations decades ago, developers have aimed to provide the ultimate football gaming thrill ride filled with jaw-dropping runs, crunching tackles, and last-second heroics.
Return Man 2, created by ESPN and Midway, stands out as one of the most entertaining football games ever produced thanks to its addictively simple concept yet surprisingly deep challenge. This Return Man 2 review will break down everything fans need to know about this classic title.
Unlike traditional football video games that task you with managing or controlling entire teams, Return Man 2 puts you in the shoes of a single ball carrier. Your sole objective is to run the football from your own end zone all the way to your opponent’s, navigating blockers and tacklers along the 100-yard journey to score a touchdown.
It’s the ultimate game distilled down to the most exciting part of football: the breakaway run. Return Man 2 captures the tense, heart-pounding action of willing your player to out-maneuver and out-run a series of defenders in pursuit of you.
This straightforward premise yields endless fun andreplayability. Part of what makes Return Man so compelling is that no two runs ever play out the same. The opposing players come at you from different angles and with varying aggression on each attempt, forcing you as the returner to think fast and use razor-sharp reflexes to string together moves to reach the end zone.
Unlike actual football where you might only touch the ball a few times per game as a return specialist, here you are the star of every play, getting to control the run from start to touchdown finish.
As the player returning the kick or punt in Return Man 2, you use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move your character. The controls keep things refreshingly simple:
- Up arrow: Run straight up the field
- Right/left arrows: Dodge tackles moving side to side
- Down arrow: Initiate a quick stutter step or spin move
That’s all there is to it. No need to memorize a complex playbook or master advanced stick skills. Return Man perfects football gaming by focusing everything on fluid runner movement.
The game still retains plenty of depth, however. Knowing precisely when to zig left, zag right, or hit runners with a well-timed special move at key moments takes fast reaction skills and football IQ to string together.
How do you win in Return Man 2? By successfully returning kicks and punts for touchdowns, of course! Here is a breakdown of the scoring system:
- Return Touchdown: 7 points
- 100-yard Bonus: 1 point
- 50-Yard Bonus: 1 point
- Special Teams Tackle: 1 point
You’ll immediately notice that unlike actual football rules, your scoring goes beyond just the touchdowns you produce on returns. Return Man 2 adds two bonus point opportunities if you can take it the distance from your own goal line for a 100-yard score, or surpass midfield with a 50+ yard return.
And in a clever twist, the game flips the script to make you the defender at times by putting you in control of an opposing special teamer tasked with tackling the computer’s returner. Each tackle you register nets you 1 point as well.
One element that amplifies both the fun and challenge of Return Man 2 is the variety of players you encounter. Just like in real football, not all athletes move at the same speed or deliver hits with equal force. The game reflects this by featuring four distinct player types:
- Speed backs: The quickest runners in the game capable of turning the corner and blowing by defenders. But they can get knocked off balance easier when hit.
- Power backs: These players excel at breaking tackles and won’t go down easily. However, their top-end speed leaves something to be desired compared to speedier options.
- All-around backs: As the name suggests, these balanced players can hold their own in terms of both quickness and power while not excelling in one area.
- Giant backs: The rarest player type, these massive runners can stiff-arm defenders with ease. Their lumbering style means they won’t be burning defenders for long touchdown sprints though.
This diversity of player performance and attributes makes mastering Return Man 2 a continually fresh experience. You’ll likely find a runner type that fits your style. Some may prefer the nimbleness of speed backs, while others lean on the raw power of giant runners to bowl over opponents.
And you’ll have to adjust your tactics facing certain defenders. Trying to bounce runs outside won’t work well against agile speed players, while attempting smashmouth runs up the gut plays right into the hands of powerful linebackers.
Return Man 2 provides plenty of ways football fans can enjoy the game:
- Exhibition: Take on computer opponents in single one-off matches. Great for casual games or getting warmed up.
- Two-Minute Drill: Try to rack up as many return yards and special teams tackles as possible within a tight 120-second time limit. Tests efficiency and focus.
- Season: Compete over the course of 10 games to clinch a championship trophy against escalating difficulty.
- Sudden Death: Special head-to-head multiplayer mode allowing you and a friend to go back and forth returning kicks, with the first to score a touchdown winning.
The range of modes ensures both single players and groups at a party can enjoy Return Man 2. The two-minute drill prepares you for high-intensity situations late in close games while the sudden death multiplayer enables bragging rights amongst you and your fellow football fanatics.
Something that bolsters the lasting fun factor of Return Man 2 comes down to presentation – the graphics and stadium environments burst with color and energy reminiscent of actual NFL telecasts.
When maneuvering your runner, it genuinely feels like guiding an virtual player across fully-rendered fields thanks to smoothly animated graphics and players. The camera angles add to the immersive football atmosphere as well.
And just like on Sunday NFL broadcasts, you’ll play in different stadiums each game which showcase unique end zone designs, turf textures, scoreboards and more. It’s a small visual touch that goes a long way towards making each match stand out.
Between the fast gameplay, defined player types, and superb graphics, Return Man 2 offers a supremely lifelike and entertaining football experience condensed into five-minute bursts of pixelated glory.
Power-Ups & Unlockables
What’s the best part about playing a sporty video game like Return Man 2? Unlocking cool rewards through your gridiron dominance, of course!
Return Man 2 features an expansive system of over 50 power-ups and unlockable items to discover by playing often and racking up high scores. These special prize boost your skills or aesthetic flair.
These consumable abilities provide temporary performance enhancements you can activate in a jam:
- Turbo: Gives your player a quick half-second burst of warp speed to blow past defenders
- Jump Boost: Improves leaping for spectacular hurdles over oncoming tacklers
- Stiff Arm: Shoves opponents attempting arm tackles, buying you extra running space
- Spin Move: Spins you around completely to change direction and avoid sacks wisely using power-ups at clutch moments can mean the difference between getting dragged down short of the goal line or breaking free for another thrilling score.
In addition to power-ups, Return Man 2 lets you unlock a wide selection of snazzy alternate jerseys that add aesthetic variety to your runner.
These include old-school throwback uniforms as well as special holiday or event jerseys decked out in unique colors and designs. Equipping vibrant threads for your returner lets you compete in style.
And what’s an addicting sports title without in-game achievements to chase? Return Man 2 provides tons of challenges to accomplish, ranging from scoring touchdowns of certain distances to using specific power-ups to tallying a set number of special teams tackles.
Each achievement completion brings you one step close to ultimate bragging rights over your fellow football gaming friends and foes.
When you break it down, Return Man 2 succeeds so wildly thanks to the sheer simplicity of its premise meeting stellar execution. Rather than get bogged down attempting to simulate intricate playbooks or hyper-complex defensive adjustments, it strips football gaming to its very fun essence of guiding a single runner to paydirt.
That tense feeling in your gut turning the corner and seeing daylight toward the end zone with a trail of defenders giving chase captures the excitement of breakaway runs better than any Madden game could dream. Return Man 2 is whatremember playing Tecmo Bowl must have felt like for kids in the early 90s –