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.