Tecmo Super Bowl

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Tecmo Super Bowl NES
Tecmo Super Bowl
North American cover art (NES version)
Developer(s) Tecmo
Publisher(s) Tecmo
Designer(s) Akihiko Shimoji
Series Tecmo Bowl
Platform(s) NES
Release date(s) NES:
  • JP: December 13, 1991
  • NA: December 1991
Genre(s) Sports, American football
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer

Tecmo Super Bowl (テクモスーパーボウル Tekumo Sūpā Bōru), is an American football video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) that was released in 1991. Developed by Japanese video game company Tecmo, it was the first sports video game that had licensing privileges with both the league National Football League and the National Football League Players Association, thus allowing the game to use both the names and attributes of real NFL teams and real NFL players. (Prior games used the real teams or the real players, but not both simultaneously.) Although the game was released in late 1991, all team rosters and player attributes were based on the prior 1990–91 NFL season, which means no '91 drafted rookies and no newly signed or traded players prior to the beginning of the 1991 season were added to the game.

The original game utilized the 1991 NFL schedule only; therefore, playing multiple seasons with alternate schedules was not possible. The game was very successful in the final years of the NES[1] and, although more than 20 years old, it has maintained an extensive cult following.


After the initial success of the NES version of Tecmo Bowl in 1989, Tecmo followed up with the release of Tecmo Super Bowl in 1991 in both North America and Japan.[2] The original NES version of Tecmo Bowl was licensed by the National Football League Players Association, but was unable to obtain an NFL team license because another NES football game, NFL, had an exclusive licensing agreement with the NFL.[3]

The sequel, Tecmo Super Bowl, added the NFL license making it the first NES game to feature both actual NFL teams and NFL players of the time. Unlike the original Tecmo Bowl for the NES, which consisted of twelve teams, a truncated roster, and limited play selection; Tecmo Super Bowl featured the complete league of (then) 28 teams,[4][5] expanded rosters, expanded playbooks, statistics tracking (including NFL Records) and many other improvements. Subsequent games in the series would build on this foundation.

Gameplay and features[edit]

The main menu of Tecmo Super Bowl provided the player with options for NFL Preseason, Season Game (Regular Season) and Pro Bowl play. Team data could also be accessed from the main menu.

Gameplay of Tecmo Super Bowl

In the original NES Tecmo Bowl, each team had 20 players on its roster, with nine players for offense, nine players for defense, a kicker, and a punter. In Tecmo Super Bowl, each roster had 30 different players. Each team had eleven defensive players, which could not be substituted, nor injured. Each team had seventeen offensive players, which included eleven starters and six substitutes. At any given time, eleven players were on the field for each team, consistent with NFL rules. A kicker and a punter were also on the roster.[6][7]

In addition to using real teams and players, TSB incorporated the full-length 1991 NFL regular season schedule for the game. The playoff format, including the Super Bowl and the post-season Pro Bowl game, was also used.

Tecmo Super Bowl retained the arcade-style football gameplay of the original which included no penalties and the ability to break tackles. However, the game added new features, such as the coin toss, fumbles, five-minute quarters, timeouts to avoid ten second runoffs, stat tracking, single season NFL Records page, expanded and editable playbooks,[8] the ability to substitute players, varying health conditions of players and player injuries. As it had previously, the game used cut scenes for important events like touchdowns and halftime shows. Tecmo Super Bowl also added cutscenes when injuries or big plays occurred.

As part of the gameplay, players can adjust offensive plays and substitute players for each NFL team and for the two Pro Bowl teams. The Pro Bowl team's roster can be edited as well. Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams players could be viewed as an individual "player card" with their statistics and attributes and their status, which can improve or decrease, making the player better or worse.

Game modes[edit]

The game has multiple modes, including season, preseason, and Pro Bowl. In season, a player controls a team through the entire NFL season. Multiple teams may be controlled. In addition, players can choose three styles of play in either season, preseason or Pro Bowl. The "MAN" option means the player calls plays and runs plays. The "COA" ("coach") option means players call the plays, but the computer runs them. The "COM" option means the computer plays all aspects, but the player can watch the game.

In all instances, season, preseason and Pro Bowl, unless the player (or players) edit the Team Data beforehand (setting plays and starters), the default team depth chart and play selection would be used.

In preseason and Pro Bowl, injured players returned immediately after the game, statistics are not kept, and the computer AI was easier than season games.


– In 1997, both Electronic Gaming Monthly and IGN video game publications named Tecmo Super Bowl as one of the top 100 video games of all time.[1] IGN ranked Tecmo Super Bowl #53 in its Top 100 NES games of all time.[9] GamesRadar also included it in its list of the best NES game ever made (at 22). The staff commented that it may be the only football game from the NES still played today.[10] PC Magazine ranked the game #10 in its list of ten most influential video games of all time.[11] ESPN named Tecmo Super Bowl the greatest sports video game of all time.[12]

Cult following[edit]

With the advent of modern console emulation on computers and even other console gaming systems, Tecmo Super Bowl may be one of the most hacked and modified NES games in existence. This has contributed greatly to the game's cult following as the game can be, and has been, constantly modified and updated. There have been, and continue to be, numerous sites for pick up games online leagues and message boards dedicated not only to the original TSB but also to ROMs which contain current day rosters while maintaining the original gameplay. There is also a mod that has NCAA Football rosters from 1990 as well as an updated 32 team ROM image with 2015 rosters.[13]

A number of tournaments for the game are held, including annual tournaments held in Madison, Wisconsin.[14] This tournament was the centerpiece of an episode of NFL Films Presents, which documented the video game and its cult following. The episode included interviews with NFL greats like Emmitt Smith and Christian Okoye who were featured in the game, as well as interviews with modern NFL players like Philip Rivers, who discuss their passion for the game.[15]


This list contains several games that are not, in actuality, direct sequels of Tecmo Super Bowl for the NES. However, they are games in the Tecmo Bowl series that were produced after the release of Tecmo Super Bowl for the NES and share a common origin in the original Tecmo Bowl vein.

Tecmo Super Bowl: A Super NES and Genesis version of Tecmo Super Bowl was released in 1993, which fixed many bugs and added some new features. New features included: improved graphics and sound, NFL team logos were added to the endzones, user-controlled touchbacks and punt blocks, playbooks could be edited during the game, weather conditions (normal, rain, snow), and an automatic "dive play". Fifteen-minute quarters were made possible for preseason and Pro Bowl modes (albeit, still accelerated). The game also provided the ability to play three consecutive seasons (1991–1993).

Tecmo Super Bowl II: Special Edition: Released in 1994 for the Super NES and Genesis. This game was a limited release. Nintendo Power magazine mentions that approximately 15,000 units were shipped to North America in its February 1995 issue (Issue #69). This was the first game in the series to depart from the true 2-D view and utilize an isometric view.

Tecmo Super Bowl III: Final Edition: Released in 1995 for the SNES and Genesis.

Tecmo Super Bowl: Released in 1996 for the PlayStation, this was the last Tecmo Super Bowl to contain real NFL teams and players. A new player editor gave the user the freedom to make unlimited amounts of unrestricted trades, change jersey numbers, edit names, modify player attributes and swap player portraits. A play-by-play announcer can be heard during games. Now offenses had to pick a formation before selecting a particular play. Also new to the game were alternate camera angles, instant replay, and the option to adjust AI difficulty in regular season games. Again, as was the case in all previous versions, penalties were excluded.

Tecmo Bowl: Released in 2003 for Mobile Phones/Devices. Basically a partial re-make of the NES version of Tecmo Bowl. The game only featured four teams, named only by city affiliation and no real players.

Tecmo Classic Arcade: Released in 2005 for the Xbox. This game anthology had a port of the original Tecmo Bowl Arcade as its headline game.

Tecmo Bowl: Released for the Virtual Console. The Wii and Nintendo 3DS versions have a re-make of the original NES version of Tecmo Bowl while the Wii also has the original Tecmo Bowl for the Arcade. Due to Electronic Arts' exclusive licensing rights with the NFL and NFLPA, the Tecmo Bowl NES games for the Wii and 3DS was unable to legally use player names and likenesses that were originally represented in the 1989 game.

Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff: The Nintendo DS adaptation of the original video game developed and published by Tecmo and was released in the Fall of 2008.[16] The game retains many of the same features and play style of the original games in the series, in particular the original Tecmo Super Bowl for the Super NES and Genesis. Due to Electronic Arts' exclusive licensing rights with the NFL and NFLPA, Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff was unable to legally use player names and likenesses or the real NFL teams. However, Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff does allow for some modification of the game, allowing players to create a somewhat accurate representation of the modern NFL teams and players. A team from Los Angeles replaces one of the New York teams.

Tecmo Bowl Throwback: As of March 2, 2010 it was reported by the Los Angeles Times that a new, downloadable, version of Tecmo Bowl would be released on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network. This game features an updated graphics engine and new features, including online play, but also has the option of playing the game in 16-bit Super NES-style graphics. Again, the game featured generic players and teams but retained the editor to allow for some modification of the game. A default Los Angeles team again replaced one of the New York teams. The game was released for both Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network in 2010.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b IGN's top 100 Games (ranked 24) retrieved 2006-10-31
  2. ^ Release Date retrieved 2009-08-25
  3. ^ NFL Football retrieved 2009-08-25
  4. ^ NFL History 1991–2000 retrieved 2009-08-25
  5. ^ NFL History 2001– retrieved 2009-08-25
  6. ^ In the first game, each team had eight players on the field.
  7. ^ Jim Kelly, Randall Cunningham, and Bernie Kosar were represented by generic names: QB Bills, QB Eagles, and QB Browns, respectively. This was because the players were not members of the National Football League Players Association's marketing agreement. This prevented the NFLPA from licensing the players' likenesses.
  8. ^ Tecmo Bowl had four plays in the play book while Tecmo Super Bowl had eight
  9. ^ IGN Top 100 NES
  10. ^ "Best NES Games of all time". GamesRadar. 2012-04-16. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  11. ^ Wilson, Jeffrey L. (June 11, 2010). "The 10 Most Influential Video Games of All Time". PC Magazine. Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  12. ^ ESPN Top Sports Games retrieved 2011-08-31
  13. ^ "TecmoBowl.org – Online Home of Tecmo Super Bowl – Home of Tecmo Bowl Fans". tecmobowl.org. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  14. ^ "Tecmo Madison – Official Site of the Madison Tecmo Super Bowl Tournament". tecmomadison.com. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  15. ^ Good, Owen (October 24, 2012). "The NFL's Greatest Players Revere Tecmo Bowl Too". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Retrieved 2012-10-26. 
  16. ^ Harris, Craig (2008-05-01). "Tecmo Bowl Returns". IGN.