Before the John Madden franchise began its near two decade run as the king of the gridiron, “Tecmo Bowl” was easily the best football game available. Featuring real players and attributes, the game was a cult classic and was easily one of the most influential sports titles of its time, earning ports on the Super Nintendo and now, the Nintendo DS.
Released late last year, “Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff” is a tribute to the legacy of the series, but falls flat for a plethora of reasons that don’t quite make up for the ease of gameplay and fun the game still creates.
Without an NFL license, this game needed to be as close to perfect in order to break past the mediocre other offerings on the system. Luckily, for the most part, the game is exactly the same as its big brother on the Nintendo Entertainment System. The running game is as intuitive and real as it’s always been [well as real as a game that’s this dated can be] and forces you to follow blocks and find holes in order to get big yardage. The passing game is challenging and at times, so much that you may find yourself scrambling in the pocket faster than Michael Vick at a dog show. With interceptions coming extremely often, it’s safer to keep the long passes to a minimum, unless your receiver is wide open.
The only difference is the appearance of super abilities and skills, such as the rocket pass, which allows select quarterbacks to throw the ball faster and with a higher completion percentage. These skills take away from any realism the game could have had, but add an entertaining arcade feel.
While this may feel a bit different from the original game at first, over time, the game is a blast and great on the go in spite of the random times these abilities pop up. The games fly by and are fun, despite uneven difficulty. However, it is a blast with a friend over local and wireless Wi-Fi.
There are also plenty of things to do in the game besides the standard exhibition and season. Being able to edit everything from your team’s name and uniform, gamers can also choose player names and attributes, effectively allowing you to recreate the present day NFL or the league of your dreams. Through playing a season, you’ll get points that will help you build up your team, which affects gameplay drastically.
Prior to leveling up your team, you’ll have to play a smart game, as the CPU features better players. After a while, you’ll see your players develop though after a season or two, the CPU will be an utter joke. More experienced players may find this happening even sooner, hurting the game’s overall replay value and forcing them to find a friend or someone online to play against every time they pop this into their trusty DS.
All these small problems considered, “Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff” is a worthy addition to your DS library if you have the time and energy to edit your teams and either know someone who has it or happen to be a nostalgia hungry gamer trying to relive the days of Ally Sheedy, Tab and Tecmo Bowl . Everyone else may find that this trusty old dog is out of new tricks and ready for a date at the ASPCA.