The NES had hundreds of sports games. To be honest, about 98% of them sucked. Even the Super NES had a mediocre library of sports games. It wasn’t until the Sega Genesis came along did we see a library of good sports related games. Tecmo Bowl was one of the few NES sports titles that was awesome.
I rented the game one Friday. I had the original which was a good game. My main issue with that game was the fact it had no NFL team license. While the cities of teams was accurate, the mascots and logos were not. Tecmo Super Bowl fixed all of that. That was just the beginning of the greatness of this game.
After playing a couple of preseason games to learn the basic controls, I went into the season mode. During my second game of the season, I had a player get injured. What? That was a brand new aspect to sports gaming. I also quickly found out that the game kept track of season stats. Wait, what? Now days this is common. Back then, that was freaking unheard of!
This was the first football game I ever played where you could sub and bench players. It also kept track of players’ health. If your running back was in bad health, his speed and breaking tackle ability would decrease. Again, this was a new concept during this era of video gaming. Like in real life, some teams were better than others. The 49ers had two great players at QB, Craig a decent running back and of course, the legendary Jerry Rice. Lawrence Taylor was nearly unstoppable on defense. You could block about 75% of your opponents extra points with him. Then there was Bo Jackson…. the greatest video game football player of all-time before the “create a player mode” existed.
The main goal of the game was to take a team through a 16 game season and win the Super Bowl. Each passing week the games got tougher and tougher. With each passing week the computer would complete more passes, run faster and guess your plays better. When you guessed a play of your opponent correctly, your entire defense would basically blitz them and run them over.
While not very realistic overall, it was sure fun. Nothing was better than breaking a tackle and throwing a player 15 yards downfield. Most of us ran backwards 40 yards with Bo Jackson to then run right pass the entire defense for a touchdown. We also loved picking a passing play and bombing a hail mary to our best wide receiver. The cut scenes were cheesy but fit perfectly into the gameplay.
Normally I don’t recommend sports games to newbies getting into retro gaming. This is one title that is a must own. Besides a season mode, you can play preseason games, play and edit your own Pro Bowl teams or try the coaching mode out, where all you do is call the plays while the computer performs them. A fun game with very simple controls to learn.
Graphics 4 out of 5 – I actually think the first Tecmo Bowl game had better graphics, as the players were larger. That is really my biggest knock of the game.
Controls 5 out of 5 – While very basic controls, they work awesomely. It’s simple to dodge tackles and to change your running direction. Picking plays and choosing players to pass to is also very simple and easy to learn.
Music 4 out of 5 – The music gets old very fast, as the game only has a few tracks and they do repeat over and over.
Gameplay 5 out of 5 – This game has a great replay value. Say you beat it with a good team. Start over and try beating it with a sucky team such as Tampa Bay. With random injuries, it can be hard losing a great player such as Dan Marino. You can also play against friends for even more fun.
Overall score 18 out of 20 (90%). Excellent game.