March 23, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 90  

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Once upon a time: Tecmo Super Bowl

By Adam Gibson
Gazette Writer

In a time before cellphone celebrations, before someone made the decision to put Chris Collinsworth in the broadcast booth and before John Madden marketed the crap out of his name — football was football. For the NES, football was 1991’s Tecmo Super Bowl.

Though Tecmo graphics pale in comparison to today’s games, it was revolutionary at the time as a sports video game. The game was one of the first to offer the attribute system of rating players, and provided profiles of your favourite stars. Tecmo maintained stats for every player in the game and featured a multi-player season option that kept yearly statistics on league leaders.

Features included an astounding 8-play playbook that could be altered before your battle and saved over an entire season. Options included the standard sweeps and all-gos, but also trickier flea flickers and end-arounds to embarrass over-aggressive opponents.

The Tecmo powerhouses included the 49ers, Raiders, Redskins and the bridesmaid of the ’90s – the Buffalo Bills. Gamers could select their favourite NFLers, from Joe Montana to Reggie White, and even the early ’90s version of Michael Vick and Randall Cunningham. Nearly unstoppable was the Raiders’ 1-2 running combination of Marcus Allen and a pre-blown-out-hip Bo Jackson.

Perhaps most entertaining of all was the ability to simulate a game between your favourite teams. Such options allowed drunken fans to stage hypothetical Super Bowls and wager on the manufactured outcomes.

Tecmo’s brilliance has been documented by dozens of websites dedicated to its greatness. Tips for the game were few and far between, but a few strategies proved successful. Offensively, since most passing games remained inept, the most successful plays predominantly utilized the star backs of the day: Bo Jackson, Thurman Thomas and Emmitt Smith. On defense, the trick was to find your team’s fastest player and use him to stop the run: usually a dominant linebacker like Lawrence Taylor, Mike Singletary or Derrick Thomas.

Despite its few flaws (ie. receivers running patterns into the stands or Hall of Famer Jim Kelly referred to strictly as ‘Bills QB’), the game gave fans their first chance to role-play as both coach and member of their favourite squads.

In the completely unoriginal era of the throwback, Tecmo Super Bowl stands out as one of the few things worthy of revisiting from yesteryear. It has all the things the Madden series offers, minus the incredible graphics and painfully obvious commentary.



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