Tecmo Super Bowl

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Tecmo Super Bowl
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
  • JP: December 13, 1991
  • NA: December 13, 1991
Genre(s) Sports, American football
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer

Tecmo Super Bowl[a] is an American football video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) that was released on December 13, 1991. Developed by Tecmo, it was 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 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 meant that no rookies taken in the 1991 NFL Draft and no player team changes executed before the start of the 1991 season were added.

The original game utilized the 1991 NFL schedule only; therefore, playing multiple seasons with alternate schedules was not possible. The game was a major success[1], resulting in several follow-ups for newer systems 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, acquired an NFL license, making it the first NES game to feature real NFL teams and players. 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]

Gameplay of Tecmo Super Bowl

In the original NES Tecmo Bowl, each team had at least 20 players on its roster (21 if the kick returner was not a starter), with nine players for offense, nine players for defense, a kicker and a punter. In Tecmo Super Bowl, each roster has 30 different players. Each team has 11 defensive players who can be neither substituted nor injured. Each team has 17 offensive players, which includes 11 starters and six substitutes. At any given time, 11 players are on the field for each team, consistent with NFL rules. A kicker and a punter are also on the roster.[6][b]

In addition to using real teams and players, Tecmo Super Bowl incorporates the full-length 1991 NFL regular season schedule. The playoff format, including the Super Bowl and the post-season Pro Bowl game, is also featured.

Tecmo Super Bowl retains the arcade-style football gameplay of the original, which included no penalties and the ability to break tackles. However, the game adds new features, such as the coin toss, fumbles, five-minute quarters, timeouts to avoid ten-second runoffs, stat tracking, single season NFL records, expanded and editable playbooks,[c] the ability to substitute players, varying health conditions of players and player injuries. As it had previously, the game uses cut scenes for important events like touchdowns and halftime shows. Tecmo Super Bowl also adds cut scenes 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 may be viewed as individual "player cards" with statistics, attributes and status, which can improve or decrease, making the player better or worse.

Game modes[edit]

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. In addition, 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 (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 AI is easier than in season games.


In 1997, both Electronic Gaming Monthly and IGN publications named Tecmo Super Bowl as one of the top 100 video games of all time.[1] IGN ranked Tecmo Super Bowl number 53 in its top 100 NES games of all time.[7] GamesRadar also included it in its list of the best NES games ever made, at number 22). The staff commented that it may be the only football game from the NES still played today.[8] PC Magazine ranked the game number 10 in its list of the ten most-influential video games of all time.[9] ESPN named Tecmo Super Bowl the greatest sports video game of all time.[10]

Sequels and related games[edit]

Tecmo produced several direct sequels to Tecmo Super Bowl as well as other games that had origins in the original Tecmo Bowl engine. Super NES and Genesis versions of Tecmo Super Bowl were released in 1993, which fixed many bugs and added some new features. New features include: 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; 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 also provided the ability to 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 both the Super NES and Genesis. These were followed by the release of Tecmo Super Bowl for the PlayStation in 1996.

Tecmo Super Bowl for the PlayStation sported new features such as a new player editor which 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. As with all previous versions, penalties were excluded. A Sega Saturn version was also in development,[11][12] but was never released. The PlayStation game was the last entry in the series to contain real NFL teams and players. Subsequent entries, such as 2008's Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff for the Nintendo DS [13], and 2010's Tecmo Bowl Throwback for the Xbox 360 and PS3 feature generic players and teams.

Cult following[edit]

With the advent of modern console emulation on computers, 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 constantly modified and updated. There exist numerous websites for pickup games, online leagues and message boards dedicated not only to the original Tecmo Super Bowl but also to ROMs that contain current-day rosters while maintaining the original gameplay. There are mods with college football rosters as well as an annually updated 32-team ROM image with present-day professional rosters.[14]

A number of tournaments are held, including the annual world championship tournament in Madison, Wisconsin.[15] 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 such as Emmitt Smith and Christian Okoye who were featured in the original game, as well as modern NFL players such as Philip Rivers who discuss their passion for the game.[16]

In 2016, Tecmo Super Bowl saw a sharp rise in popularity. 26 national tournaments[17] were held and Tecmo Madison XIII’s livestream had 161,076 viewers[18], in addition to ESPN.com[19][20] coverage.

In popular culture[edit]

Gameplay is featured in the Family Guy episode "Run, Chris, Run", where Peter uses Bo Jackson to beat Quagmire.[21]

Tecmo Bowl is a central theme for two 2016 Kia Sorento commercials. Both commercials star the aforementioned Bo Jackson and play off the ridiculously advantageous characteristics he possesses in the game. One also features Brian Bosworth, who was famously run over by Jackson during a Monday Night Football game in 1987 as he attempted to score a touchdown.[22]


  1. ^ Known in Japan as テクモスーパーボウル Tekumo Sūpā Bōru
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Tecmo Bowl had four plays in the play book while Tecmo Super Bowl had eight.


  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. ^ IGN Top 100 NES
  8. ^ "Best NES Games of all time". GamesRadar. 2012-04-16. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  9. ^ Wilson, Jeffrey L. (June 11, 2010). "The 10 Most Influential Video Games of All Time". PC Magazine. Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  10. ^ ESPN Top Sports Games retrieved 2011-08-31
  11. ^ "Later this Season...". GamePro. No. 97. IDG. October 1996. p. 100. 
  12. ^ "Tecmo Super Bowl". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 89. Ziff Davis. December 1996. p. 314. 
  13. ^ Harris, Craig (2008-05-01). "Tecmo Bowl Returns". IGN. 
  14. ^ "TecmoBowl.org – Online Home of Tecmo Super Bowl – Home of Tecmo Bowl Fans". TecmoBowl.org. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  15. ^ "Tecmo Madison – Official Site of the Tecmo Super Bowl World Championships". TecmoMadison.com. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  16. ^ Good, Owen (October 24, 2012). "The NFL's Greatest Players Revere Tecmo Bowl Too". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Retrieved 2012-10-26. 
  17. ^ "Tecmo Super Bowl Live Tournaments". 
  18. ^ Vogt, Chris (May 3, 2017). "Tecmo Madison XIII Sees Newfound Success, Same Champion". MWTecmo.com. Retrieved 2017-05-03. 
  19. ^ Rothstein, Michael (April 7, 2017). "Tecmo Super Bowl gunning for resurgence with esports". ESPN. ESPN. Retrieved 2017-04-07. 
  20. ^ Rothstein, Michael (May 1, 2017). "Tecmo Madison Recap". ESPN. ESPN. Retrieved 2017-05-01. 
  21. ^ Paget, Mat. "Family Guy Used NES Game Footage From YouTube, Then Claimed Copyright on Same Video". GameSpot. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  22. ^ "Bo Jackson stars in awesome new 'Tecmo Super Bowl'-themed commercial | For The Win". Google.com. 2016-09-09. Retrieved 2017-01-17.