I am not a football fan. That’s not to say that I’ll never enjoy watching a game from time to time, but I’ll never care enough to actually follow what’s going on during a season or have favorite players. That being said, Tecmo Super Bowl is one of my favorite video games of all time. It comes from an era where you didn’t need to be interested in a sport to enjoy a game based on it. It was just a simple, fun, fast-paced game. I like Tecmo Super Bowl so much, that I own the game on the NES, SNES, Genesis, PlayStation, and the Xbox Live Arcade remake Tecmo Bowl Throwback. And of all those versions, there’s only one that I don’t like. Can you guess which one that is?Tecmo Super Bowl for the Sony PlayStation is absolutely abysmal game. Almost everything I like about the older versions isn’t present here. And it’s pretty baffling, to be honest. The PlayStation is a significantly more powerful system than the 8 and 16-bit consoles that came before it, and a CD-Rom holds a ton more data than those old cartridges. There’s no reason that I can think of to excuse just how terrible this game really is.
The game is played from an overhead perspective with players running horizontally across the screen. Like, the older versions, the PlayStation game uses sprites for it’s players, instead of using polygons. Honestly, I think that’s probably the right choice. Polygonal models tended to be kinda chunky at this point in time, I think it would have looked much worse. The sprites are a lot taller than the older versions, but otherwise, it doesn’t look like that much of an improvement. The only thing visually that’s immediately noticeably different is the camera movement. Where the camera would stay in one place in the older games, it pans out and turns around here. It’s really distracting and doesn’t actually add anything.
The older games are known for some pretty crazy flourishes that are strangely absent here. When you would get a quarterback sack, for example, you’d get a cutscene of a massive football player, his arms flung high in the sky in celebration. It was badass. In the PlayStation game, you don’t get a cutscene at all. Sure, the player still raises his hands, but it’s from the same perspective you had in normal gameplay. It’s all really disappointing.
The music in the older games also really stood out to me. I still get music from them stuck in my head all the time, especially the main menu song from the SNES version. I’ll never forget the song that plays when an injury occurs. It made the whole thing feel like you had just witnessed a tragedy. And then there’s the PlayStation version. Outside of the start of the game, there is no music the entire time. While playing a single preseason game before writing this, I even got an injury. No music, and thus no emotional reaction. I just quietly selected a new player and was back in the game.
Actually playing the game is a lot less fun too. In the old versions, while on offense, you had eight different plays you could select from. To select a play, you held the D-pad in a direction and then pressed either A or B. If the player on defense also held the same direction and hit the same button, his players would rush the quarterback. It was a really cool way of making the defense’s choice matter, while not over-complicating anything. Now, offense and defense both have a large number of plays to choose from. It’s too much and makes it a lot less appealing for people who just want to play a quick and fun game.
After last week, I was really hoping to be able to write about something positive instead. But unfortunately, my random number generator just wasn’t feeling generous today. At least this gave me an opportunity to talk about a game I do really like. If you want a fun, addictive, and easy to grasp football game, please check out any other version of Tecmo Super Bowl. I especially recommend the SNES version. Just whatever you do, don’t play the PlayStation version.