The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) launched in North America in 1985, in 1989 Nintendo would release Tecmo Bowl. Although some prefer more advanced sequel, Tecmo Super Bowl, many fans choose to return to the seemingly simple gameplay of Tecmo Bowl.
No matter the sport you examine, the system had a league of a few different sport titles, from Bases Loaded and Dusty Diamond’s All-Star Softball, to Hoops and Double Dribble. At this point video games were still new, still growing and covering more ground, it is not surprising that they would try new things. Some of these games would create series that would be continued for years, such as Punch Out!!.
Tecmo Super Bowl is an excellent game, but it added more than was necessary. The beauty of Tecmo Bowl is that it is simple, but not too simple, it is complex, but not too complex. In Super Tecmo Bowl both players have eight options when it comes to choosing a play, in Tecmo Bowl that number is four. Having twice the amount of plays sounds like a great idea, more possibilities, more mixups, what could be wrong with that? If the player on defense picks the same play as the player on offense, they will likely be immediately shut down. This is something more often found in fighting games and is the concept of reading, or predicting your opponent and it does happen in sports games, but usually not this effectively.
When playing on defense it is important for the player to try and figure out how to block the opponent, which means knowing what they are going to do. Each play still has multiple options, different people to throw to, different paths for running, both players always have options. When choosing a play in Tecmo Bowl there is a 25 percent chance to pick correctly and shut down the opponent from the start. The greater chance of shut downs means more turnovers, which means more touchdowns. The conclusion is more exciting games. Yes, a 14-0 game might be great and awfully tight, but a 35-31 game is full of quick turnarounds and the premise of always having the possibility of bringing it back.
Tecmo Bowl does suffer in some aspects though. Yes it has a stellar theme, halftime babes and black-hole-opening high fives, but it also has a very limited amount of teams to choose from, no in-game stats or the ability to turn kicks into other plays. It does not present in-depth information in a easy to understand fashion, if at all. However, just because the game does not reveal these things does not mean it does not have them, in fact the research aspect of the game is one of the keys to being a great player.
In conventional means Tecmo Bowl may not stand out as simulated sports masterpiece against today’s sports giants, but upon further inspection the game is full of its own benefits, glitches and unique character that make it clearly its own. It stood out in the past and continues to do so today. A similar experience can be seen in Super Smash Bros. Melee, for all of the discoveries that proved the title could stand the test of time, as it still has an impressive group committed to playing it.