Tecmo Super Bowl
|Tecmo Super Bowl|
|Genre(s)||Sports (American football)|
Tecmo Super Bowl[a] is an American football video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) that was released in December 1991. Developed by Tecmo, it is the first sports video game that was licensed by both the 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 use either the real teams, the real players, or fictional substitutes, but not real teams and real players together.
The game was a major success, resulting in several follow-ups for subsequent game consoles. The NES original has had an extensive cult following across the decades, with widely covered tournaments as the game modification community provides annual roster updates. It has been variously named as one of the best NES games, one of the best sports games, and one of the most influential video games of all time.
With Tecmo Bowl for NES in 1989, Tecmo had procured an official license from the National Football League Players Association, providing twelve teams and a truncated roster. The full NFL team license was unavailable because of the exclusive license held for another NES game, NFL. The success of Tecmo Bowl was followed by the release of Tecmo Super Bowl in 1991 in North America and Japan, for which Tecmo acquired both sets of the NFL/NFLPA licenses, making it the first and only NES game to feature both real NFL teams and players. Although the game was released in late 1991, all team rosters and player attributes are from the prior 1990–91 NFL season, so it contains no rookies taken in the 1991 NFL Draft and no player team changes executed before the start of the 1991 season.
Tecmo Super Bowl surpasses its predecessor with the complete 1991 league of 28 teams, expanded rosters, expanded playbooks, and statistical tracking including NFL records. Jim Kelly, Randall Cunningham, and Bernie Kosar are represented by generic names of QB Bills, QB Eagles, and QB Browns, respectively, because the players were not members of the NFLPA's marketing contract. This gameplay foundation would be expanded upon during the course of the series' run.
In the previous Tecmo Bowl for NES, each team has a roster of at least twenty players (twenty-one if the kick returner is not a starter), with nine players for offense, nine players for defense, a kicker, and a punter. In Tecmo Super Bowl, each roster has thirty different players. Each team has eleven defensive players who can be neither substituted nor injured. Each team has seventeen offensive players, which includes eleven starters and six substitutes. Eleven players are always on the field for each team.
In addition to using real teams and players, Tecmo Super Bowl incorporates the full-length 1991 NFL regular season schedule. Its playoff format includes the Super Bowl and the post-season Pro Bowl game.
Tecmo Super Bowl retains the arcade-style football gameplay of the predecessor, including the ability to break tackles and a lack of penalties. New features include the coin toss, fumbles, five-minute quarters, timeouts to avoid ten-second runoffs, statistical tracking, single season NFL records, expanded and editable playbooks with eight plays instead of four, the ability to substitute players, varying health conditions of players, and player injuries. The game expands on cut scenes for important events like touchdowns, halftime shows, injuries, or big plays.
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. Offensive, defensive, and special-teams players may be viewed as individual "player cards" with statistics, attributes, and status. These can improve or decrease, making the player better or worse.
The game has multiple modes, including preseason, regular season, and Pro Bowl. In regular season mode, a player controls a team through the entire NFL season. Multiple teams may be controlled. Players can choose three styles of play in any of the game modes: "MAN" in which the user both calls and runs plays; "COA" in which the user coaches the team by calling the plays only, with the computer running them; and "COM" in which the computer handles all aspects of the game, with the user as just a viewer.
In all game modes, unless the user edits the team beforehand by setting plays and starters, the default team depth chart and play selection is used.
In preseason and Pro Bowl modes, statistics are not kept and the computer player is easier than in season games.
In 1997, Electronic Gaming Monthly and IGN each named Tecmo Super Bowl as one of the top 100 video games of all time. IGN ranked Tecmo Super Bowl number 53 in its top 100 NES games. GamesRadar ranked it number 22 in its list of the best NES games, noting that it may be the only football game from the NES still widely played. PC Magazine ranked the game number 10 in its list of the ten most-influential video games of all time. ESPN named Tecmo Super Bowl the greatest sports video game of all time.
Tecmo produced several direct sequels to Tecmo Super Bowl, and other games originating with the Tecmo Bowl engine. 16-bit versions of Tecmo Super Bowl for the Super NES and Genesis were released in 1993 (reflecting the rosters and attributes for that season), which fixed many bugs and added some new features. New features include these: improved game graphics and sound; official NFL team logos in the end zones; user-controlled touchbacks; the ability to control a player to attempt a punt block; the in-game option to change plays in a team's playbook during games; a running back "dive play" option; a designated return team that includes defensive backs; statistical achievements during games; and three weather conditions (sunny, rain and snow), which can occur randomly in Season mode. Accelerated fifteen-minute and ten-minute quarters can only be used for Exhibition and Pro Bowl games. The game can play three consecutive seasons (1991–1993). Sequels to these versions, Tecmo Super Bowl II: Special Edition and Tecmo Super Bowl III: Final Edition, were released in subsequent years for the Super NES and Genesis. These were followed by Tecmo Super Bowl for the PlayStation in 1996.
Tecmo Super Bowl for the PlayStation sports new features such as a new player editor which can make unlimited amounts of unrestricted trades, change jersey numbers, edit player attributes, edit names, and swap player portraits. It has a play-by-play announcer voice. Offenses can pick a formation before selecting a particular play. The game has alternate camera angles, instant replay, and the option to adjust AI difficulty in regular season games. This is the last entry in the series to have the NFL and NFLPA licenses, and reflected the rosters and attributes of the 1996 season.
A Sega Saturn version was in development, but was never released. Subsequent entries, such as 2008's Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff for the Nintendo DS, and 2010's Tecmo Bowl Throwback for the Xbox 360 and PS3 feature generic players and teams, due to Electronic Arts obtaining the exclusive NFL and NFLPA licenses in 2004 for the Madden NFL series.
Since the advent of modern console emulation on computers, Tecmo Super Bowl is one of the most modified NES games. This contributes greatly to its cult following as it is constantly updated with rosters for college and professional football. Numerous websites are dedicated to pickup games, online leagues, and message boards for the original game and its mods. In 2016, popularity spiked with 26 national tournaments, Tecmo Madison XIII's livestream having 161,076 viewers, and ESPN.com providing coverage.
An episode of NFL Films Presents documents the video game and its cult following. Centering on the annual world championship tournament in Madison, Wisconsin, the episode includes interviews with NFL greats such as Emmitt Smith and Christian Okoye who are featured in the original game, and modern NFL players such as Philip Rivers who discuss their passion for the game.
In popular culture
Tecmo Bowl is a central theme for two 2016 Kia Sorento commercials, starring Bo Jackson and playing off his ridiculously advantageous in-game characteristics. One features Brian Bosworth, who had been famously run over by Jackson during a Monday Night Football game in 1987 as he attempted to score a touchdown.
- Known in Japan as テクモスーパーボウル Tekumo Sūpā Bōru
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