Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff - hands-on

The real pull of Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff on the DS isn’t the game itself. It’s the nostalgia for the old days that comes flooding in when you play it. We’re talking about those 8-bit salad days when blowing the dust out of those old carts and loading them into your NES in just the right way was a sacred ritual.

It’s all because Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff is all about keeping things old school and that’s a good thing. From the remixed retro soundtrack to the way players still stomp and wrestle over the ball, Kickoff manages to avoid feeling ancient while still maintaining that classic quality.

Above: You can move players with the stylus and fight for the ball by scribbling over players, but Kickoff feels best with the D-pad and face buttons

Unlike the NES version, Kickoff won’t feature any official NFL teams or players. But if you really miss them, you can manually recreate any team you want with the game’s customization mode. Everything from the players’ names, stats, and colors for their uniforms can be edited.

You’ll also be able to challenge other players via wi-fi connect or wireless. But since anyone could theoretically create a custom team where all the players’ stats are boosted to the max, we’re worried that online play won’t be fair (or fun) unless you choose to create your own cheesy uber team.

Above: Check out those snow pixels. Even the new weather effects maintain that old school look

Kickoff also introduces Super Skills into the mix and two of them were available in the build we played. The Lightning Pass cannot be intercepted and always finds its way into the receiver’s hands, while the Power Run results in you getting two extra yards once you’re tackled. Sometimes players will be prompted to activate these Super Skills manually, but sometimes they’ll be triggered automatically when certain conditions are met. While playing, it seemed like the Lightning Pass and Power Run skills activated anytime our team was struggling to make a first down. They didn’t feel like cheap tricks and fit well with the Tecmo Bowl’s arcade-like feel.

Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff is scheduled to release this September and a Wii version is planned for early 2009. In the meantime, check out the latest screenshots and extra gameplay videos in addition to the one below.

Below: Kickoff plays just like the classic 8-bit version and that’s a good thing

May 29, 2008