The Tecmo Bowl Craze
There has been a lot of talk this week about one of sport’s classic video games, Tecmo Bowl, because of the NFL Films presentation of a movie featuring the game and having former NFL players play it.
But we want to make one thing very clear here when people are – rightly so – celebrating the game.
There was a huge difference between Tecmo Bowl and Tecmo Super Bowl. Repeat: a HUGE difference. And we think the lines are becoming blurred, as evidenced by this NFL Films blog. And that’s unfortunate.
Tecmo Bowl was the first football game of its kind to incorporate real players and the ability for users to call real plays. Any Nintendo veteran will remember 10-Yard Fight, which featured a quarterback who could only throw about 20 yards and didn’t have the ability to truly hand the ball off. He was like a Nebraska QB in the 1980s.
The complexity, yet the simplicity of Tecmo Bowl was what made it such a classic. It was complex in the sense that it was new – calling one of four plays on both offense and defense and then actually having the ability to accurately move your players around the field. Simplistic because think of video games now – you can act as coach, general manager, owner, player and you have playbooks the size of Todd Haley’s and the options to run everything from a Wing T to a West Coast offense to a Run N Gun. It’s insane how far the games have come.
But the differences between Tecmo Bowl and Tecmo Super Bowl were extraordinary at the time.
Everyone knows about Bo Jackson and Lawrence Taylor dominating the field in the original.
But hardly anyone talks about how good the Bills were in the Super Bowl version. Or how unstoppable Christian Okoye was.
Tecmo Super Bowl was superior to Tecmo Bowl, but no one ever talks about it. The lines have been blurred.
There were more teams to choose from, more plays (eight!), and there was better touchdown graphics, better gameplay and sometimes the receivers dove for a ball. Also, a good quarterback-wide receiver combo didn’t automatically result in an interception when the ball was thrown to a covered man. Running backs actually got tackled after a few yards rather than having the ability to go all Bo Jackson and run circles, literally, around people.
Plus, it kept stats and records so long as the game didn’t reset somehow.
The unfortunate thing about Tecmo Bowl is that if you wanted any real semblance of who was the best, you picked the Raiders and the Giants because of the Bo Jackson-Lawrence Taylor connection – each side with a dominant player on either side of the ball.
Tecmo Super Bowl had the Bills – in the midst of four straight Super Bowl appearances – the 49ers with Ronnie Lott, Jerry Rice, etc., the Houston Oilers with a highly underrated Warren Moon and Haywood Jeffries, the Chiefs and the Nigerian Nightmare, Christian Okoye, Atlanta with Mike Rozier and Randall Cunningham on Philadelphia.
The difference is that these options actually allowed you to win the neighborhood battles because nearly every team had a dominant player. Even the Cincinnati Bengals had David Fulcher, who was a beast.
While Madden is clearly the best video game – and one of the deepest in terms of building teams and players – ever, give us four hours with some friends, Nintendo thumb be damned, and Tecmo Super Bowl.