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Review: Tecmo Bowl Throwback

Tecmo Bowl Throwback

Here we go, children of the 80s!

The much-anticipated Tecmo Bowl Throwback was finally released on PS3 this week and I, like so many recovering Tecmo Bowl addicts, downloaded it as soon as I could.

At 9.99 in the Playstation 3 marketplace, this shot of gridiron nostalgia was too cheap to pass up.

I hadn’t been following the development of the game very closely. All I knew was that it was the same old game play with updated visuals and the ability to toggle back and forth between the old 2D style and the updated 3D.

So how is it? The game quickly offered up a couple surprises – good and bad.

As reported, this is a seamless port of the old game, but not the two most popular Tecmo Bowl games – Tecmo Bowl (1988) or Tecmo Super Bowl (1991).

Instead, they chose the more obscure and overlooked Sega Genesis/Super Nintendo version of Tecmo Super Bowl (1993). This sucks because what made 1991’s Tecmo Super Bowl so much fun was the speed and the classic over-the-top players like Bo Jackson. Those hoping to take control of the Raiders and do this are shit out of luck.

Much has been made of the fact that the game play mechanics have been seamlessly ported to this version, just with new visuals. That’s all fine and dandy, but why did they chose the version with the slowest game play?

At the least the “Tecmo Weave” still works and I love the 2D/3D toggle which works seamlessly and can be done on the fly, right in the middle of a play.

All the NFL Cities (as of 1993) are represented. I was thrilled to see that I could play with my Green Bay Pa – err… Laurel Leaves?

Since EA Sports and the juggernaut known as Madden still hold the exclusive license with the NFL and NFLPA, actual team names, logos and player likenesses are not used.

Generic names are assigned to players, whose numbers and abilities reflect the actual 1993 rosters. So Packer fans can once again watch Brett Favre lob bombs to Sterling Sharpe or hand off to Darrell Thompson.

Ah yes, I'm home.

I don’t understand this move.

Why not update the fictional Tecmo League with today’s cities? Or representations of today’s players?

The game does offer bare bones customization, but if you’re looking to do anything beyond change the names of the players or cities, again, too bad.

The game offers preseason and regular seasons modes as well as a Tecmo All Star mode. Multi-player online is also available.

The game comes pretty much as advertised and I look forward to having a few beers and playing with some of my buddies. However, the game feels like a missed opportunity.

They didn’t port the consensus best version of Tecmo and I don’t understand why they neglected to apply some relatively simple tweaks to the customization options, rosters and teams. Doing so would have made the game more relevant in today’s gaming landscape and could have been done without compromising the promise of preserving the game’s original charm and simple game play.

Instead, it feels like a piece of antique furniture that only got reupholstered.

Tecmo Bowl Throwback

It's true, this is a gratuitous cheerleader shot.



Steffen grew up in Milwaukee, Bowler and Neenah Wisconsin. He is a UW-Stevens Point grad and currently works as a television producer in Los Angeles.