Once upon a time: Tecmo
By Adam Gibson
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
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
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
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.