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Tecmo Super Bowl

Released: 1991
Company: Tecmo
Genre: Sports

For a number of reasons, reviews of sports games can be difficult to write. Among those reasons is the fact that when you get down to it, plot, challenge, and such really don't factor into a game of this genre. Because of that, I had to look at this game from a different angle; that being how everything, from the graphics to the play control to the accuracy of the sport's representation, affect the enjoyment of the game.

Although I gave the game's presentation relatively high marks in my first review, I'm afraid I'll have to recind those statements to a point. The problem is the palette as it pertains to each team; for about a third of the league, there team shares a color with the field. Luckily, no team has grass-green uniforms (How'd you like to play a team of invisible men?), but a large number use either pink or sky blue, and all of them use white (for away games). Thus, when your team is in midfield, pass plays are out of the question, since your opponents will tend to melt into the NFL shield and out of sight, only to reappear when they dive at your QB. Although the auxiliary cinema scenes used when some plays are over do look colorful and lifelike, they don't outweigh the frustration of playing a camoflaged team.

The musical score is difficult to judge, mostly because in sports games you're too busy playing to notice them. And although the on-field music is pretty repetitive and mundane, it's the music that plays outside the game where Tecmo Super Bowl really shines. Three tunes are especially enjoyable: The opening cinema theme, the season recap, and (who can forget) the ending music. (And please, don't download that MIDI. Whoever did it butchered the song.)

In the arena of play control, there are some hits and misses. First of all, the method of using pass plays could use some work. For one thing, you can't scroll through your receivers in reverse. This means if you miss your open man, you're liable to get sacked while you cycle through all your possible receivers to get back to the one you want. Another problem is if you are confronted by a defensive player, the melee that ensues as you try to break free often causes you to switch receivers again, thus instead of getting sacked, you get picked off.

One final irk with this game is the tendency for two things: First, breakaways. I don't mind seeing my opponents get past my defense and run down the sideline, if my team wouldn't dive at him so far away, or if it didn't happen nearly every drive. Secondly, during season play, the game seems to decide who gets injured out of pure whim. The "Physical Condition" listed in a player's bio sheet has no bearing; I've seen a number of players in so-called "Excellent" condition run to the sideline for their mommies after the first play, especially during kickoff and punt returns.

Still, don't get the impression that Tecmo Super Bowl isn't a good game. It's a terrific one. Even though the faults are numerous, this is the NES we're talking about. And as long as your opponents get injured, and as long as you can fake them into a long bomb, these problems are forgivable. I've gotten to the point where I can beat teams systematically by 20 or more points with a lowly team like the Seahawks, so obviously it's easier than you think.

Overall Ratings:

Play Control:
Technical Score: 11
Plot: Exempt
Challenge: (Easy)
Thrill: (Frustrating)
Aesthetic Score: 15
Overall Score: 75%