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Tecmo Super Bowl (NES) artwork

Tecmo Super Bowl (NES) review


"Under the computerís control, Christian Okoye and Barry Word are near-impossible to tackle unless the player is able to guess which play will be called (which causes the entire defense to gang-rush the unlucky ball carrier). If I was lucky, the computer would try to have Steve DeBerg pass his team to victory. If not, Iíd repeatedly watch Okoye and Word crush my defenders on one long touchdown run after another, while praying Iíd be able to score last to win a 35-31 brawl. "



Perhaps the greatest complement I can give Tecmo Super Bowl is that even though I donít pick up that NES classic anywhere near as often as back in the day, I still am capable of lecturing others for hours about every single team, their key players and how I won the Super Bowl with them. Iíve played seasons with all 28 teams present in the NFL in the early 90s, most of them more than once -- something that has resulted in virtually everything about this game being branded into the inner workings of my brain. I may forget to pay my bills on time, but I can tell you people all sorts of interesting TSB tidbits. Such as these six.....

1. Some teams, such as the Saints and Rams, have a surplus of average running backs. While none have the pure talent of a Bo Jackson or a Barry Sanders, they all have the potential to be capable ground threats....if the player is attentive to their condition. As a season progresses, players randomly shift between poor, normal, good and excellent conditions. If an average back like Cleveland Gary or Dalton Hilliard is in excellent condition, they can be as tough to stop as any superstar. A decent reserve like the Ramsí Buford McGee (who became a cult hero for my best friend and I during one season) can be transformed into a quality starter if he remains in good or excellent condition for an extended period. And to accomplish this, all I have to do is pay close attention to everyoneís condition and adjust my starting lineup accordingly.

2. Great middle linebackers are godsends. In one season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, I only gave up something like 70 points. Sure, they have as good of a defense as any team in TSB, but the reason I was so dominant could be summed up in four words: middle linebacker David Little. I controlled him roughly every play and he became a one-man wrecking crew on opposing quarterbacks, racking up four to five sacks in most games.

3. Even marginally decent tight ends and running backs can be saviors. As the season goes on, the computer ratchets up its defensive intensity, making it a lot tougher to find open receivers. Unless Iím playing with a team like San Francisco, where Montana-to-Rice never truly loses its effectiveness, I found out quickly that short routes to the tight end and screens to the backs tended to be a reasonably efficient and safe way to get down the field -- especially on teams that arenít gifted with an abundance of good skill position players, such as New England, Pittsburgh or Cleveland.

4. Satan is a Kansas City fan. Once Iíd get far enough into a season that the computer was starting to provide a legitimate challenge, if there was one team I dreaded encountering, it was the Chiefs. With each and every one of the other 27 teams, I was able to devise tactics to give myself an advantage. With these guys, I could only rely on luck. Under the computerís control, Christian Okoye and Barry Word are near-impossible to tackle unless the player is able to guess which play will be called (which causes the entire defense to gang-rush the unlucky ball carrier). If I was lucky, the computer would try to have Steve DeBerg pass his team to victory. If not, Iíd repeatedly watch Okoye and Word crush my defenders on one long touchdown run after another, while praying Iíd be able to score last to win a 35-31 brawl.

5. Depending on my teamís defensive personnel, great teams can be easily topped.....or mediocre ones can provide more than a few humbling moments. Iíve utterly destroyed the high-powered Buffalo Bills when in control of a team with a great strong safety. Iíll control that player and singlehandedly shut down Thurman Thomas, leaving me free to focus my defensive efforts on predicting pass plays. Jim Kelly (errr....QB Bills....a handful of players werenít licensed for this game) dreaded going against me during those years. On the other hand, certain poor backs have had huge games against me because my defensive stud played a position that tended to get taken out of the play against certain runs.

6. Oh, while I canít do anything about their ability (or lack thereof), I still found it pays to know my offensive linemen. If a team has poor linemen, itís wise to fill the playbook with quick-developing plays or risk getting crunched by quality defensive lineman on a regular basis. Very few things in this game can be more nerve-wracking than having to find a receiver and throw the ball in the 1.4 seconds it seemingly takes for a guy like Richard Dent to manhandle a weak lineman and steamroll my quarterback.

And I could keep going on like this for thousands upon thousands of words. This game had so much of a hold on me for so long that itís become almost larger than life in my eyes. Sure, there are a few problems such as the noticeable amount of flicker on the screen when too many players are on the screen at once, but when I get into playing TSB, things like that become meaningless.

The games are short, only taking 20 or so minutes to play, allowing me to go through most of a season (if not the whole thing) in a day or two. The action is fast-paced and addictive. After a few easy games to open the season, the computer plays tougher and tougher -- at times seeming to know my strategy better than I do. Iíve played many of the Madden NFL games and lost interest in each of them because of my ability to craft a system capable of draining all the challenge from them, turning games into lengthy periods of mind-numbing repetition ending with an 80-point win. I canít do that with TSB and thatís why Iíve never lost my desire to play it. Not only is this the king of retro football games, but in my eyes, itís easily the greatest of all time.

Rating: 10/10

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (September 22, 2006)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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