“Tecmo Super Bowl” was released in 1991 on the Nintendo Entertainment System as the sequel to the popular football game “Tecmo Bowl.” It was the first game to use the names and attributes of actual NFL teams and players. It is, without hyperbole, a million times better than every other video game ever created.
And while my opening statement may seem to indicate this is going to be nothing but a kiss ass piece, that is not the case. While this game has brought me ridiculous amounts of joy, it has also helped create feelings of rage-filled hatred for life I didn’t realize existed until the moment they were spawned. So here it is, my official review for a game that has been in my life for longer than all but one of my friends.
I’m not even going to bother taking the time to review this game from a technical sense because it’s 18 years old. Obviously it’s not technically sound compared to modern games, but who gives a shit? It’s just plain fun. It’s an absolute blast to take control and dominate with unstoppable players on offense (Bo Jackson, Christian “The Nigerian Nightmare” Okoye) and defense (Lawrence Taylor, Derrick Thomas).
If you watched any of the videos linked to above, it’s clear the game isn’t overly realistic. But to reiterate a previous point, who gives a shit? Why would anyone want to play a realistic football simulator? I played real football for several years and it fucking sucked. I’d much rather lose myself in an exaggerated fantasy world than be reminded of the neanderthal lunkheads I had to deal with in my playing days.
And who’s to say this isn’t how the actual game should be played? I love the NFL, but wouldn’t it be more interesting if quarterbacks possessed the ability to throw frozen rope passes from one end zone to the other? At the time of his arrest, Michael Vick had a contract worth $130 million. Maybe if he had spent his money training himself to develop unprecedented arm strength instead of bankrolling dog fights, he’d be preparing to lead the Atlanta Falcons to a Super Bowl instead of rotting in a jail cell.
Conversely, for all the joy I’ve gotten out of the game, it’s hard to neglect all the pain and anguish it has thrust upon me. I do like that when you go through season mode that games do get tougher, as it would get boring otherwise. However, the rate at which this game overrates certain players is beyond absurd.
It’s one thing to lose a playoff game to the San Fransisco 49ers, arguably the best team on the game, via a hail mary touchdown pass to Jerry Rice, the game’s best receiver. It’s another thing entirely when you are nursing a four point lead and get gashed for an 84 yard touchdown on the last play of a playoff game by Tom Rathman, who Tecmo creators, for some reason, believed was the pudgy white offspring of Walter Payton and Earl Campbell. Anyone who plays this game and says that scenario doesn’t make you want to use your cartridge as a disc for skeet shooting is lying.
Also, it is very good at driving rifts between you and the people you play against. I have literally gone weeks without speaking to friends due to fights caused by this game. Whether it’s a bullshit loss (like having your defensive back illegally picked, leaving your opponent’s receiver wide open for a game-winning score), or a friends whining (beating them four strait games and having them blame every lose on a broken controller, even when we switch after each game!) tense arguments are bound to ensue. This isn’t massive to me as I value the game more than I value friendship, but if you do enjoy a non-confrontational relationship with your peers, this game isn’t for you.
Though my anger may seem to indicate otherwise, I don’t want to give the impression that this is anything less than the best video game ever made, because I swear to you it is. Sure it’s imperfect, even to degrees that make you want to chuck your Nintendo against the wall. But who decided that the things you love have to be perfect anyway? Flaws and all, this game has given me more joy than I could have ever gotten from modern “polished” games with their “good” graphics and “realistic” gameplay.
And while I may have given the impression this game has killed my friendships, that isn’t the case at all. If anything, it has kept them going. Most of the tension it causes comes to an end because we get bored and need someone to play Tecmo with. The only other option is making new friends who also share our love of the game and that can be tricky. Like parents who stay together so as to not emotionally scar their children, these friendships continue, even though the parties involved really don’t much care for each other. That is the twisted beauty of this game.
Final Words II:
Normally these reviews are concluded by giving scores but I’m not really interested in applying one to this game. While it no doubt gets a perfect 10 for replay value, I can’t really give it a perfect overall score because technically speaking it isn’t perfect. However, I can say with 100% honesty that I wouldn’t change a single thing about this game, no matter how angry and hateful it has made me. In that aspect, it is perfect.
I can’t really gauge if this would be fun to non-football fans because I have loved the NFL for as long as I can remember. But if you like football and are looking for a better solution than the vastly overrated entry in the “Madden” series, do everything you can to hunt down an old Nintendo system and a working copy of this game. It will be the best decision you have ever made.