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Colin Kaepernick’s new game is a Mario Kart-inspired take on arcade football

Power-ups aplenty in 7-on-7 arcade style sports title Wild Card Football

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Colin Kaepernick? More like Colin Kaiju-nick amirite?


Well, anyway, the former NFL quarterback who led the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl in 2013 stars in Saber Interactive’s latest arcade-style sports joint, Wild Card Football, coming Oct. 10 to everything — Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC (Steam and Epic Games Store), Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

Wild Card Football is a 7-on-7 throwdown jacked with zany power-ups, such as Kaepernick growing super-size and stomping the hell out of the defense. A news release on Thursday said Kaepernick will be joined by “hundreds of genuine pro players,” meaning Saber got an NFL Players Association group license, but it doesn’t have the National Football League license.

With flying saucers hovering over one field, and Niagara Falls pouring over another, it doesn’t sound like the game will miss much without the staid and stodgy NFL shield. Players will get to assemble a team of favorites from the game’s roster, customize their uniforms, logos, and playbooks, and take them out on the field with a deck built from more than 150 Wild Card power-ups.

“It feels much more like a video game to me than just, ‘Hey, this is football,’” Kaepernick told SB Nation’s Debbie Emery, at a preview event during Summer Game Fest. In addition to starring on its (virtual) cover, Kaepernick consulted with Saber on Wild Card Football’s gameplay. He took particular interest in the power-ups, he said.

“It feels, I think, in relation to what Fortnite is, in that realm, or Mario Kart within racing, this very much feels that way to me,” Kaepernick added. “Those were the games I enjoyed the most, games like that growing up.” He said his youth involved a steady diet of NBA Jam, NFL Blitz, and NFL Street, as well as The Legend of Zelda, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and Final Fantasy series.

Kaepernick, of course, hasn’t played a down of professional football since the end of the 2016 season, when he inaugurated the demonstration of kneeling during the pre-game national anthem to call attention to police brutality and its victims. That sparked a backlash and controversy, with Kaepernick and supporters saying he was blackballed from the league (he was at the end of his 49ers contract in 2016). The NFL later settled a lawsuit, on undisclosed terms, that he and a former teammate brought, alleging collusion to keep them out of the league.

Still, Kaepernick said he plays video game football with the same mentality he did playing the real thing. “It’s always part of my brain,” he said. “Because it’s 7-on-7, it’s a little bit different, but I still really like the Xs and Os of, like, how can you throw your opponent off? What opportunities do you have to take a shot?”

Kaepernick will be joined by current stars Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Joey Bosa, Aaron Donald, Justin Jefferson, and numerous others, Saber said in Thursday’s statement. Wild Card Football will offer local as well as online multiplayer, with full cross-platform play, as well as a single-player Season mode.

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