The Ninjabot

Retro Review: Tecmo Super Bowl

Posted on August 23, 2012 at 5:00 am by Stephen Janes

The classic Tecmo Super Bowl began as an arcade cabinet (then just Tecmo Bowl), which wasn’t too popular with fans, but received great success as a console port to the NES, SNES and Sega Genesis. Tecmo Super Bowl improved on its predecessor Tecmo Bowl by leaps and bounds, not only in graphics but also by being the first NES game to feature all (at the time) twenty-eight NFL teams and accurate rosters with real players as of August 16, 1993.

Tecmo Super Bowl offers a few different ways to play, pre-season, regular season and pro bowl. Pre-season is your standard exhibition, while the regular season feature pits you in a seventeen week test against the gridiron. One feature I always appreciated was the ability to have multiple teams controlled by a player, thus allowing you and your friends to compete on the same file.

Just for the record, all screen shots that I took are from one memorable game that I played. In case you were wondering, I decided to recreate the ultimate competition between good and evil and use this as the basis of my review. This review will chronicle the epic struggle between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots. In case you were wondering which team I was; I hate the Patriots.

Colts vs Patriots

I represent all that is Holy and good in the world, which is why I need to defeat the Patriots.

Gameplay is very simple but still offers a challenge. When on offense, eight plays are drawn in front of you with half being a run and the other half being a pass. The defensive team must pick a play they think will be executed by the offense, and then the play occurs. If the defense picked the exact same play as the offense, this usually results on a mad rush towards the ball carrier and rarely results in positive yardage for the offense. If the defense chooses incorrectly, the play fleshes out a little further with different results.

FIRST QUARTER: In attempting to establish the running game, I get stopped several times for short gains. In response, a few big passes keep my drive alive as running back Anthony Johnson runs for a short touchdown to put my Colts ahead, 7-0 after the extra point.

Anthony Johnson TD

This is Anthony Johnson. He likes to score touchdowns. Also, totally different from the MMA fighter also named Anthony Johnson.

As the defense you must pick one player before the ball is snapped since the game locks your control of that player until the play is dead. I believe this adds a level of strategy unlike other football games that allow you to switch players at will. Will you pick a linebacker and go for the blitz to leave the tight-end open? Will you choose your free safety in order to prevent the big pass on third-down? Does anybody even understand what I’m talking about at the current time?

SECOND QUARTER: The Patriots are attempting to overpower my defense by running up the middle repeatedly. Fortunately for me, I’m able to predict their feeble attempts and get a few sacks out of the process. Again, if you guess the right play, the opponents defense comes crumbling down like Ryan Leaf’s career. To end the quarter, Jeff George throws a touchdown pass to running back Anthony Johnson, who scores his second touchdown of the game. Colts lead 14-0 at the half.

Jeff George

This would have been more accurate if he was flipping off the Indianapolis fans. He was never loved this much.

The overall presentation of the game isn’t too exciting, but there are some high-points. Random stills come across the screen showcasing a tackle or a near interception on occasion, which adds some dramatic elements to the game. Whenever you score a touchdown, the player who scored is often showed hiking the ball and celebrating with teammates. Even on the opening kick-off, the kicker gets a unique opening ‘cinematic,’ if you will.

THIRD QUARTER: After a first half which saw both teams accumulate just under ninety total yards of offense (seventeen from the Patriots), the Colts defense holds strong as a forced fumble leads to yet another Anthony Johnson touchdown, his third of the game and second of the rushing variety. Going into the fourth quarter, Patriots are losing by a score of 21-0 because they are the Patriots. Also, I hate the Patriots in case you didn’t catch that already.

zig zag

Bo Jackson taught me that I could run in a serpentine pattern and I couldn’t be touched. Same rule applies to alligators.

Speaking of kicking in this game, the kickers are ridiculously juiced. I have, in the past, kicked sixty-plus yard field goals with relative ease. I have also punted the ball over eighty yards, through the goal posts. It makes sense because this was based on an arcade game, but it would have been nice to tone down the kicking power just a little bit.

FOURTH QUARTER: The Colts offense finally ‘turns it on’ and puts together their most impressive showing yet. Spearheaded by Jeff George’s two touchdown passes, the Colts offense makes a mockery of the visiting Patriots. The defense would get the last laugh, as the New England offense attempt one final push towards the end zone, only to have it intercepted and taken back for six points. After the extra point, the Colts would have a commanding 42-0 lead with only seconds left to play.

Reggie Langhorne

Somehow, all he did was run in a straight pattern and I still overthrew him by thirty yards all game.

Tecmo Super Bowl offers a fast paced, exciting and unique challenge when it comes to football games. Since this game was released back in 1991 for the NES and later for the SNES and Sega Genesis, it has gained a very dedicated and extensive cult following, who have gone to the point of actually modding the ‘ROM’ of the game in order to add updated rosters, team logos and another mod which adds NCAA rosters as an additional feature. In all honesty, I still enjoy playing Tecmo Super Bowl even after all of these years. The game is simple and quick enough to where I don’t need to dedicate an entire afternoon for one game.

POST GAME: The Patriots leave defeated and embarrassed. Anthony Johnson attains player of the game honors with three touchdowns on the day. If he were on your fantasy team you would have scored thirty points. Not bad for a guy who only scored fifteen touchdowns in an eleven year career.


This image perfectly describes the domination that occured on the field. Note, that is not crybaby Tom Brady in the back, but he sure looks like it.

Retro Review Rating: 3/5

In short: Tecmo Super Bowl is a lot of fun, but can get very repetitive quickly. I would have loved to try out the modded version with updated rosters but couldn’t get access to it in time for the review. Fast paced arcade football action is what you expect, and it’s what you get.


That’s right. Shutout. You’re welcome, America.

    • Scott

      Dang, I loved the crap out of this game back on the day on NES!

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