Retro Metro Volume II #2: Tecmo Bowl

“Are you ready for some football? A Monday night party? Al and Steve? The Dolphins and the Chargers doing it up right? All my rowdy friends will be there on Monday night!”

-Daniel Buyer

Salvēte and dia daoibh and privet, it’s time for Retro Metro Volume II #2: Tecmo Bowl. As today’s opening quote implies, today’s game is one of (American) football, allowing me to forgo the whole “plot summary” thing (as you might expect, you just play teams until you win the championship), and head straight to the gameplay.

The gameplay of this game is pretty much how American football works, so if you don’t know anything about American football, read this article for a helpful primer. Obviously, the rules have been extremely simplified, so I feel I should actually tell you what’s going on. First you pick one of 12 teams (which you stick with for the entire campaign): the choice usually isn’t important, but it should be noted that Los Angeles is really overpowered (they have the 80’s equivalent of Tom Brady, Bo Jackson), and that plays vary somewhat between teams. Then, the computer picks a teams it hasn’t picked yet, and it’s time to play ball. Each quarter lasts 2 minutes (real time); you begin the first one with a kick reception (unlike in real football you get the ball wherever it lands). Then you get to playing. Each down consists of you picking one of four plays: if on offensive, you run the play, and if on defense, the play you pick is what you guess the other team does, and if you guess right, you almost always stop the other team. In return for this certainly, if you guess wrong the other team almost always breaks through, and because of the horrible defense in this game they very often get a touchdown from that (at least in my experience). On offense you do the following: no matter what, you press A to hike, and then when running you just go (mashing A to break through a tackle), and when passing you press A to choose a receiver and press B to throw. On defense, you press A to cycle through your players before the play begins, and press B while controlling the chose player to tackle.

Like in real football, you need to get 10 yards for a 1st down, and if you don’t get that you have the option to punt, kick a field goal, or try for 1st. If you try, it’s a normal play but the other teams starts where you are if you fail; if you do either kick, you get one of those “power meters”: the purple bar goes forward up the total bar and then wraps around to the beginning, and you try to get the bar. far forward as possible. When kicking, this determines whether you make the field goal; when punting, this determined where the ball lands. Note that, for this and everything else, how the CPU does on this meter is (pseudo)random.

After two quarters, you get halftime, and then, no matter what the situation was you have to punt. At the end of the fourth quarter, the winner is determined. Time-wise, it should be noted that the clock stops after every play, but you have no time-outs. Finally, in addition to the 1-player mode I have been describing, there is also a 2-player mode, and a (2-player) “coach” mode, where both players make the plays but do not actually execute them.

Now, on to the music and graphics. As always, I usually have the sound off, but I have a feeling the music is okay. Similarly, the graphics are nowhere near amazing, but they get the job done.

Finally, we get to how one can buy this game. As often happens in this column, the game is purchasable via either the actual NES cartridge, the 3DS’ Virtual Console, or some sort of emulator. The game is also included in the NES Classic.

Well, that’s all for this issue, but come back next issue for another stop on the Retro Metro.