Sunday 13 September 2015

Tecmo Bowl (NES review)

Developer: Tecmo
Publisher: Tecmo
Released: 1989

Tecmo Bowl is an American Football game that was first released in the Arcades in 1987.

There's 12 teams but they're only identifiable by their city; however, the game is licensed by the NFL Players Association so real life sportsmen appear. The action is definitely more of an arcade take on the sport rather than a simulation. Quarters only last 90 seconds, there's no touchbacks and big plays happen frequently. There's only four plays to choose from (the combination of runs and passes depends on your chosen team) but rather than feeling limiting it keeps the pace up and doesn't feel intimidating to those not familiar with American Football. After hiking the ball you can then press the A button to select your intended receiver and then throw to them with the B button. It works perfectly and it's fun zigzagging away from defenders who are hot on your tail! My only complaint is that there are no onside kicks so if you're behind late in the game you have to give the ball away. On Defense you can select any player before the snap which is great for learning the strengths and weaknesses of each position and where you can be most effective. In the secondary, blanket covering an opposing player will usually result in an interception but you can also dive for a tackle with the B button. You can't always see down the field as the action doesn't zoom out very far; this can result in you giving up touchdowns as you're having to guess where the Wide Receiver is. Other options include a brilliant two-player competitive match and a Coach mode where you select the plays for both teams and then let the CPU handle the action. The game also has some impressive speech samples and a cool halftime show.

Tecmo Bowl might be a simplistic take on the sport but it has some fantastic controls and entertaining gameplay that still feels solid today. It really shines in two-player mode and overall it's miles ahead of other American Football games of the time.

Random trivia: An NES sequel called Tecmo Super Bowl was released in 1991 and this time it had an NFL license as well as being backed by the NFLPA.

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