Game Review: Tecmo Super Bowl
Tecmo Super Bowl

Tecmo Super Bowl Title Screen

  • Publisher: Tecmo
  • Developer: Tecmo
  • Released: November 1991
  • Game Type: Sports
  • Players: 2 Sumltaneous
  • Product Number: NES-4U-USA
  • Rarity: C- (Borderline Common)
    Game Ratings:
    OVERALL: 9

    Box Scan
    Tecmo Super Bowl Screen 1 Tecmo Super Bowl Screen 2

    In 1989 Tecmo released the classic football game Tecmo Bowl on the NES, which was an arcade-like take on the sport. While it was fun to play and a smash hit, there were still quite a few shortcomings, such as only twelve teams, four plays in the playbooks, and nine players on each side. So two years later Tecmo graced the NES with its follow-up, Tecmo Super Bowl, which improved on the original in every way and became one of the most revered sports games ever. It just stood out from the other NES football titles with its amazing features, and even today it ranks as one of the best football games ever.

    This game has much more options than its predecessor. First, the game has both the NFL Players Association and Team NFL licenses. That means you get both real NFL Teams and Players. Plus all 28 NFL Teams(at the time) in both conferences are represented, with most of the rosters intact. There are some omissions because of licensing issues, such as Buffalo quarterback Jim Kelly and Eagles QB Randall Cunnigham. You and another player can play either a preseason game, go into Season mode, or play the Pro Bowl, pitting the AFC's finest against the NFC. Games consist of four 5-minute quarters and follow the standard football rules and scoring. The gameplay is just like Tecmo Bowl, with an horizontal overhead view, but with a lot more stuff to do. Now all 11 team members are present on the field. The number of plays has increased from 4 to 8, four running and four passing and you can change the playbooks. On offense you can run, kick or pass, but now you have to deal with incomplete passes and fumbles. On defense you can now dive tackle, and you can jump to block a pass or kick. You can also make substitutions as you need to. Plus cutsceens play during close plays or scores.

    The main feature of Tecmo Super Bowl is the Season mode. In season mode, you play through a full 17 week season, based on the 1991 NFL schedule. You can control one team or several teams, and you can change at any time, plus mutiple players can take a team all the way. You can set each team to manual (you control them), coach (you just call the plays), computer (the computer controls them) or skip (when two skipped teams play, the game plays automatically and you're just given the score and stats). So, depending on how each team is controlled, you could have two players head to head or you can just watch two CPU teams go at it. The game keeps track of your stats as well as the stats of all the other teams. You have to watch out for each player's condition; injuries can occur that can take you main starters out for much of the season. At the end of the year, if you have a good enough record or win your division, you can enter the playoffs for a chance to reach the Super Bowl. The game uses the actual NFL playoff format, so you can qualify as either a division leader or get in as a wild card. In the playoffs you must defeat the best teams in your conference for the championship, then you can earn a trip to the Super Bowl to go for the NFL World Championshp.

    Graphics & Sounds:
    The graphics are very good. Although the players themselves are smaller than in Tecmo Bowl, this allows more of the action to be seen, especially on the sidelines, where you get to see officials, cheerleaders, and even the first down markers. The uniforms and skin colors of each team do match their real-life NFL counterparts (more or less). The sprites have smooth animation and there isn't a bit of slowdown with all the players running around. There is quite a bit of flickering when too many players bunch up, but it's nothing serious. The animated cut scenes are also well done and helps spice up the game without being a hinderance.

    In addition, the audio in this game is great. This game features some decent background music that plays during each drive (the theme during Preseason games is especially good), as well as some cool bone-crunching sound effects that accompany all the hard hits. There's even some great voice clips, such as the quarterback yelling "Hut! Hut! Hut!" and the annoucer screaming "Touchdown!"

    The gamepad does a good job controlling the action on the field. Player movement is sharp and precise, allowing you to dart and cut with very little problems. Passing is also easy on offense. Button A cycles through receivers quickly and Button B tosses the ball. On defense you can dive at running backs but it's often easy to miss. The game uses a power bar for kickoffs and punts, which works fine though there are times when you try a full power kick but hit the button a second too late, resulting in a short punt.

    Challenge & Playability:
    Tecmo Super Bowl is nothing short of excellent in the gameplay department. The arcade-style action makes it easy for anyone to jump in, plus stat freaks will appreciate all the statistics for every player and every team. The game also has a very good challenge level; naturally playing as a mediocre team is tougher than playing as a tough squad, but it never really gets too frustrating. In the season mode the CPU gives out a good workout, plus as you go along it starts recognizing your patterns and adjusts. Once you reach the playoffs you have to work even harder to beat the teams standing in your way to the Super Bowl. But overall the gameplay is challenging but not too tough. In addition Tecmo Super Bowl gives you an almost-complete football experience, including post-game reports and a cool halftime show (complete with "interesting" cheerleader pics). This games features infinite replay value; you can play it for hours and it never gets old, plus it's perfect for two-player battles.

    The game does have a couple of hiccups, though. The main negative is that on defense, once the ball is snapped you can't change defenders, meaing if you're far away you'll have to trust the CPU defenders to get the job done. Also on offense, you can pass the ball to receivers off-screen, but you can't tell if they're being defended or not, so you'll have to hope that no one's around. Finally in Season mode, you have to sit through the scoreboards of every other game before it's your team's turn to play, which can get tedious after a while. But the gameplay is still great enough that these quibbles can be overlooked.

    Bottom line, if you're looking for the ultimate NES football game, this is it right here. Tecmo has done an excellent job making a football game with something for everybody, combining easy-to-play action with in-depth stats. This would have been the perfect football game if the slight flaws were ironed out (especially on defense), but as it, it's still a great representation of the sport. It even holds up well against the current crop of football titles, and serves as an excellent choice for players who are tired of today's complicated football sims and want to go back to something simpler and fun. Anyway you look at it, Tecmo Super Bowl is just that: the Super Bowl of NES football games, and a true champion in the sports games arena.

    - Review posted on September 6, 2006