Tecmo Bowl Throwback for PS3

Few retired video game systems have the nostalgia and replay value as the original 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System.  The system spawned such titles as Super Mario Bros., Contra and the almighty gridiron classic, Tecmo Bowl.  The football classic later found life on the Super Nintendo in 1993 in the form of the best-selling Tecmo Super Bowl.  So what if you really love the game but do not own a Nintendo product?  Fear not, pigskin fans! Battles waged between end zones can be once again ignited, and this time in 720p high definition on the Playstation 3.

The Skinny
Available for just $9.99 from the Playstation Store, Tecmo Bowl Throwback unites the original concept and playing style of Tecmo Super Bowl with modern high definition graphics and online multiplayer ability.  You can still expect the same side-to-side action as is traditional with the franchise along with the same old run and pass plays, but that’s a good thing.  With that comes familiarity and obviously a development team that adhered to the old adage, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Each team has a small playbook to pull strategies from that comprise an in-game arsenal of four run plays and four pass plays with the additional option to perform a simple dive-over-the-pile maneuver on those goal line and fourth-and-inches plays.  You will also find the option to kick field goals, call timeouts (of which you get 3 per half) and call in-game substitutions.

What you won’t find are the NFL and NFLPA licenses. What that means is no Chad Ochocinco, no Chicago Bears, no NFL shield, etc.  Instead, you will find creative logos like a great white shark on New England’s helmet, a hissing snake on Cleveland’s and so on.  In addition, since this is a remake of the 1993 classic, that means 28 teams, so don’t expect to see Baltimore, Jacksonville or Carolina on the team selection screen, nor will you find the ability to try for a 2-point conversion.

Injuries still occur, upon which a quick substitution is easily made.  With only a couple backups for each position (or one in some cases), the transition is about as uncomplicated as it can be.  Character creation is absent, but you do have the ability to rename existing players.  As for those players hanging onto the ball, fumbles are still present as are varying weather conditions ranging from clear to rain to frigid snow-laden fields.

Game options include single preseason matches, an all-star game and a full length season that includes the ability to focus on one team throughout the season or switch teams from week to week.  Online play is smooth with little to no hiccups, and depending on your opponent, can provide a much heightened nail-biting experience.  Until we reach the point of Skynet, human intelligence is still superior to artificial intelligence.

Though there are more buttons on a PS3 controller than there were on an SNES controller, the control concept is relatively the same.  The thumbsticks will function the same as the directional pad, but I found the directional pad to provide a more accurate and far less jittery experience when finding my way around the field.  In regard to executing plays, the X-button will allow you to cycle through receivers while the O-button throws the pass.  On special teams, the O-button will allow receiving sides to down the ball when caught in the end zone. On defense, the O-button will allow defenders to dive at ball carriers to make a diving tackle.  Whether on defense or offense, there’s nothing like some good old button mashing to break from tackles or make them when locked into one of those famous Tecmo Bowl grapples.

Kickoffs are still made with a power meter while extra points and field goals are made with an arc-swinging arrow that must be timed just right to aim the ball at the correct angle down field.  Despite removing the power meter for these instances, you will still find the same sense of urgency to execute your well-timed button tap as oncoming linemen will break through your wall of players if you hesitate.

One big difference from its predecessors is the old zig-zag ball carriers could pull off to keep pursuing defenders at a distance.  Sure, you can still try to do it, but it doesn’t have nearly the same yardage-gaining effect that it used to in previous titles.  Feel free to zig-zag to your heart’s content, but don’t expect to run the length of the field in doing so.  Speaking of low yardage, both kickoff and punt returns can be frustrating.  As far as I can tell, it is purely impossible to run either back for a touchdown; punts especially.  It would have been nice to include the magnitude of the little zig-zag trick from the old game into this new one.

Graphics & Sound
The graphics are nothing to write home about, but then again, if that’s what you bought this game for, you’ve surely missed the point of the unparalleled fun of this franchise.  To hardcore fans, the enhanced graphics, compared to previous versions, are a welcomed update.  The game is vibrant and colorful, but details from higher end games such as the Madden series are not present.  Absent are details like paint scuffs on helmets and turf stains on jerseys.  However, a nice touch is the slow motion cinematics from accomplishments in passing, receiving and rushing.  Halftime animations feature the typically hokey, but atmosphere-adding events such as dancing cheerleaders and hovering blimps.  Lastly, one very unique feature in the list of graphic options is the ability to switch between the new enhanced graphics or the old 2D classic pixels.  This is a much-welcomed addition to the list of enhancements that the late-20 and 30-somethings will appreciate from their earlier days of Tecmo Super Bowl.

The sound is basic at best, but on a system like the PS3, basic is still pretty good.  It will make use of a surround sound system, although like the graphics, is no spectacular feat.  The subwoofer is pretty quiet and nothing really jumps out at you from behind in an audible sense.  You will be playing this game for its simplistic yet fun entertainment factor and maybe even for a little reminiscing.

Final Thoughts
On a personal note, I have always been a fan of each and every addition in this line of titles, from the original NES Tecmo Bowl up to the Tecmo Bowl Kickoff for the DS.  The keys to the ongoing success are keeping what works in place and making sure your changes are subtle ones.  In addition, the sheer easiness to just pick up the game and play was always a plus; something that can’t be said for the Madden series.  With that in mind, you will definitely get your money’s worth in this title that is nothing but fun from beginning to end.  It’s easy to learn but offers a challenge through the progression of your season.  The Tecmo Bowl franchise always possessed an unmistakable charm that has carried on through the ages and though you won’t find QB Eagles or Bo Jackson on any of the rosters, the nostalgia is ever present with a little bit of a facelift. 


2 Responses to “Tecmo Bowl Throwback for PS3”

  1. Brian White

    Finally! The mother of all football games is back! One that I don’t need a Physics degree to understand!

  2. Gregg