Gamers of a certain age – like yours truly - spent many lost nights playing marathon sessions of Tecmo Super Bowl back in the early 90’s. The concept of skipping class, a date with your girlfriend, and pretty much anything else to throw down against your buddy on an NES gridiron was not only reasonable, it was expected.
Two decades later, along comes Tecmo Bowl Throwback, oozing with all of the essence of its forebears. Throwback is so good in so many ways it’ll make you think twice about why you bother to learn the dizzying array of intricacies in modern football games. Chances are you’ll have five times as much fun against a friend in a breezy game of Tecmo Bowl than an hour-long death struggle in Madden.
Throwback’s beauty is twofold. First, the simplicity of the gameplay and controls is sublime. You get 8 plays to choose from and they’re easy to execute. If your opponent happens to choose the same one, you’ll get crushed; otherwise, you’ve got a fighting chance at some positive yardage. Second, the visuals are neo-retro-elegant, offering a crisp 2D landscape that makes it easy to see what you’re doing and plan your attack. Tap the shoulder button and you’re brought back in time to the original circa-1991 screens; it’s fun for a play or two but nothing more.
Almost everything we loved back in the day is still here: the occasionally goofy Japanese-to-American menu items (“Punt Kick”!), the zig-zag mechanic to get your runner a few extra yards, defenders jumping onto helpless ballcarriers after the whistle, and the silly cutscenes that pepper the game. To call it nostalgic is an understatement.
To be sure, Throwback is a little light on the in-depth offerings, but for $10 it’s no slouch. Exhibitions, seasons (replete with stat tracking), and online play are on the menu. We were disappointed that quitting online games doesn’t count against your record (evidently a patch is coming soon to prevent that), but Tecmo Bowl is always better in person anyway. The only thing Throwback is missing, really, is an NFL license. You can edit players and teams to a degree, but you won’t be able to truly re-create the League.
To say we love Tecmo Bowl Throwback is obvious; for the price, it’s a bargain (especially if you’ve got a like-minded friend or two). It’s simple, old-school, and nothing like modern gridiron fare – which is just the way we want it.
May 4, 2010