I’ll readily admit that I’m not the world’s biggest sports fan. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy sports generally, whether playing or watching. I’ve certainly partaken in some fun times that revolved around a softball game, badminton, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, etc.; and I’ve seen my fair share of sports on TV, be it the Superbowl, a skateboarding competition, or a college basketball game. (I actually used to be a huge MLB fan, until the strike of 1994…smh.) So, it kinda goes without saying that my history with sports video games is a short one. While I tried my hand at several Madden football games (I think 10 was that last one we had), and left all the skateboarding games to my fiancé, the only one that I put any amount of time into actually playing was Nintendo’s Tecmo Super Bowl (1991).
I grew up in a baseball household, so naturally we had the original Atari Baseball game. (I thought about writing a whole post about that game, but honestly, I couldn’t think of anything more than a few things to say about it. It was a 8-bit game with the gameplay, graphics, and sounds you’d expect. It was relatively fun to play with family. And…that’s it.) Once we got the NES, sports games didn’t suddenly appear all fast and furious. If I correctly recall, I think my brother garnered Tecmo Super Bowl (TSB) through a trade. He was always the biggest sports fan in the family, so that would make sense. He and I played often played the 2-player, but TSB was also the only sports game that I ever played on my own. And y’know what? I had a lot of fun in the process, despite knowing very little about football.
Now look, I’m not going pretend that TSB turned me into some kind of awesome kinka-maya-maya football genius, but it did teach me the basics of the game – the players, their roles, and the different kinds of plays. Yes, at this time I was already in my later high school years, so I came into all this knowledge a bit late in life, but do you really think I gave a damn about my inability to relate to the school jocks? Puh-lease. I knew what I was good at; and while real football was not one of those things, I had a fine time making my way through TSB.
Video-game-wise, TSB’s basic gameplay provided the foundation that still makes up the Madden games of today. The Madden games just look better. But you still have to pick a team, pick your plays, and move your players across a field (forgive me if this has completely changed since Madden 10). It also used real players and real teams. For aficionados of the game, I bet that was a pretty cool thing back then. You could also play through the pre-season and the regular season, as well as the Pro Bowl. I don’t think you had much flexibility with the teams – you got the players you got and couldn’t change them, but it was still a seemingly powerful game for the little NES. And honestly, it looked pretty darn good, with the player perspective of being able to scroll up and down the field.
So while my brother and I had fun in the 2-player mode, I also managed to play through an entire season. With what team? Argh, I knew you were going to ask that. I honestly can’t remember. My sad brain seems to think that it would have been one of the PA teams – the Steelers or the Eagles – but I just don’t know. And even though I did get through a regular season on my own, I have to say that the overall game strategies eluded me. I didn’t choose to run or pass because I knew it was the right thing to do during the 3rd down – I just picked a play and went with it. Yeah. My team didn’t have very good stats by the end of the season, but I still felt kinda accomplished all the same.
Watching that video brings back a lot of good memories. TSB helped my brother and I develop a decent gaming camaraderie that eventually led to us beating the crap out of each other in Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. I also can’t get over the peppy music! It’s repetitive yes, but still motivating. While today’s sports game have the slick look that’s required to sell, Tecmo Super Bowl was, like any old school game, all about the challenge and experience. If it’s out on an emulator somewhere or in the Wii shop, I’d certainly recommend giving it a go. (I’d try it, but I think my laptop would start crying.)