1: Tecmo Super Bowl

Genre: Football

Developer: Tecmo
Publisher: Tecmo
Year: 1991

Basic Idea: Ready! Down!  Hut! Hut! Hut! Hut!

Review: It feels kind of weird putting a sports game at the top of the countdown, but Tecmo Super Bowl is more than a sports game.  It’s also an arcade game that at times feels like an action game. And it’s so incredibly addicting.  I am not exaggerating when I say I have spent at least 2,000 hours playing this game. It’s tapered a bit over the years, but not completely.

I remember the first game I played.  My brother and I faced off, Chicago vs. Minnesota.  I was down by four points with only a few seconds left.  Using the reverse/flea-flicker, I launched a 50 yard bomb to Anthony Carter, who leapt over two defenders in a brilliant cinematic display, caught the ball, and gave me my victory.  I was hooked.

Every thing about this game was programmed with the idea of making every moment fun for the player. The extensive, detailed, thrill-inducing cinema shots enhance nearly every play.  The sound effects, from blocking to kicking, to the ball whistling through the air all make the game pop.  And, of course, being rewarded with a “Touchdown!” call is the icing on the cake.

But the game is more than all the arcade effects.  The play control is impressive, with the ability to dodge and cut with ease depending on the skills of each player.  My only critique of the control is that fighting off tackles has more to do with your ability to rapidly press the buttons than the strength of your player.  This put me at a disadvantage against most everyone I played with, as I just don’t have a fast finger.

The computer A.I. is pretty easy to figure out, so there’s little challenge there.  But there’s endless possibilities for friends to play against each other.  And we did.  Not only did we go through the entire 1990 NFL season multiple times with different teams, we also would use a second cartridge to play fantasy football on.  We’d draft teams, skip the games, count our points, and down lots of Mountain Dew.  This is the game I’ve played at 3 a.m. more than any other.  I also admit to playing many season using the coach function, just to give myself a challenge.

I am still crazy in love with the rosters. Randall Cunningham. Barry Sanders. Christian Okoye. David Fulcher. Wayne Haddix. Lawrence Taylor. Derrick Thomas. Ronnie Lott. Bob Nelson.  And, of course, Bo Jackson. I’ve changed my mind: Bo Jackson is my favorite boss on the NES. Finding ways to stop him, Cunningham, or Lott were the cause of friction. We would handicap each other. You can only run for a first down with Cunningham on 3rd down.  You could only use Lott once per four downs. Of course, if it weren’t for tackling being often dependent on button mashing, things may have been different.

This was also the first game to keep extensive statistics.  For a guy who loves numbers and records, this was a dream come true.

Add in awesome, awesome music, crushing injuries, a great halftime show, and a solid ending, there’s no other game I’d rather play.  The sequel on the SNES fixes a lot of minor issues with the game (e.g. no touchbacks, no blocked punts, clock issues) and adds some features (e.g. weather), but when push comes to shove I usually pick the original.  Tecmo Super Bowl, even today, remains a beast and as far as sports/arcade games go, has yet to be equaled.

12 thoughts on “1: Tecmo Super Bowl”

  1. Yay! I DID guess right! Like I told Beau earlier, this game has screwed me up while watching real football games. I keep thinking “Well, if the idiot would’ve just run in a zigzag pattern, no one would’ve caught him!”

  2. Maybe you need to make a trek to Madison for the world’s largest Tecmo Super Bowl tournament: http://tecmomadison.com/

    Also, I agree with this ranking both for the game and the entertainment of the real life game recreations with my favorite probably being this one:

    1. Yeah, that one might be my favorite as well. P.A.’s call is awesome schadenfreude and it works great with this clip.

      I’ve been invited to that tournament before, but never made it out, though I knew a couple of guys who did. It would be fun to hang with people, but like I said, I’m a terrible button-masher, so I’d require perfect play to have any chance.

    2. Cheaps, do you frequent any of the Tecmo boards? Since you’re aware of the tourney, I just wonder if maybe I’ve run across your handle and didn’t know it.

      1. Nah, I haven’t even played since I was in junior high. I’ve just lived in/near Madison for the last seven years and seend some news articles on it in the past.

  3. I dislike most sports games, but I have to admit, this game is a lot of fun. I agree, it does have all the properties of a good action game. However, the AI is really annoying. Rather than make decent algorithms, they just increase the speed and strength of your opponent to ridiculous levels as the season progresses. I’m sure it was due to the constraints of the NES, but when the AI doesn’t have to play by the same rules as the player, it hurts the game.

    1. And, while that A.I. is annoying if you’re trying to break statistical records, losing to the computer is embarrassing with pretty much any team against any team even with the catch-up logic.

  4. Phew! Forgot about this game when trying to think of the last two until I saw you only covered the original so far. So many fun hours with this game (and a few…ahem…lowlights).

    Throw in the incredible online community that still plays this game and continues to update rosters, hack the rom to make improvements and variations on play and it kicks other games asses in the replay ability factor.

  5. I do prefer the SNES game to this, but yeah, this is fine enough. You’d never catch me putting a sports game at the top of my heap, in theory, but this one and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! have some sort of…thing…that makes them not even come across as football and boxing games. They’re just that good.

  6. I remember how much you loved that game . . . It is not for me, I dont’ get into sports games, so aren’t you lucky I am not a judge or jury of your #1 pick? :} Guru Gus would rather save a princess any day than run down a football field!

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