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Why Tecmo Super Bowl is the greatest sports game of all time


My recent acquisition of a SNES and Tecmo Super Bowl III: Final Edition has taught me a very important lesson about the world. Coupled with the reminder of my dissatisfaction with Madden NFL 10, Iíve come to realize that Iíve been fighting a losing battle with the universe itself. Iím finally willing to concede. I admit defeat. The victor is, has always been, and always shall be, Tecmo Super Bowl. It is the greatest sports game (in its various iterations, not counting Tecmo Bowl which is awful) that has been or will be. While the original NES version still reigns supreme, any game that says Tecmo Super Bowl count.

You might be quick to jump on this claim as completely unfounded. But Iím not in the business of hypothesizing without backing it up. So, stick with me on this one, friends, and learn why Tecmo Super Bowl is better than whatever other sports game you have in your head.

First off, check out this epic intro.

Awesome, right? But for a bit more of the meat of this argument, have a look below.


Could it be? This game, which is now old enough to buy its own cigarettes, is more realistic than Maddenís newest effort? Well, no. Itís not.

Still, for a game made in Japan in 1991, TSBís effort really wasnít so bad. For one, it included a simple system for injuries, which is better than no system at all, right? Basically, players got hurt sometimes. Then they got better. Pretty awesome, right?

In all honesty, though, TSB did succeed in one extremely important way: it offered both licensed teams and players Ė something that few other games at the time had done. Some offered one but not the other, and some offered neither. If you wanted the complete NFL experience, you turned to Tecmo Super Bowl.


ďBut Kauza!Ē you say. ďI want to be able to create my own player! I want to be able to build his stats and make him an NFL superstar!Ē

Then pick up your copy of Tecmo Super Bowl and go for it! Indeed, Tecmo Super Bowl offers the ability to turn your favorite first initial and last name into an NFL superstar. Play through the gameís season mode and develop your playerís skills in a variety of attributes.

And, yes, the season mode! Indeed, Tecmo Super Bowl allows you to play through the actual 1991 NFL season, giving you a chance to rewrite history and turn Cincinnati into a real football team long, long before they managed to do it for themselves. Or, you know, you can just choose Washington and make them win the Super Bowl again, but, come on, who wants that?

Anyway, you can also play the Pro Bowl, single preseason games with any matchup you can conceive, and track the stats of your players throughout the season. In fact, stat tracking was always one of my favorite things in the game, as not only does the game make it extremely easy to do so, but it makes it hilarious. Whatís this, cornerback Rod Woodson is leading the league in sacks? With fifteen? In the second week of the season? Awesome!

Real Teams, Real Players, All the Time

Oh no! I want to play as Chad Ochocinco because heís so brave and clever for changing his name to his number! I have absolutely no reason to play Tecmo Super Bowl!

Wrong again. Using console emulation (only if you own the original version of the game, of course) and a variety of roster updates, you can enjoy some amazing football with the latest player rosters available. In fact, the community for this game is still so large that message boards exist devoted entirely to this game in its various iterations.

Still, why not just relive a crazy time in the history of the NFL. Party like itís 1991. Iím hesitant to call it the glory days, but they were certainly glorious. Houston had a team called the Oilers. Barry Sanders was basically Sonic the Hedgehog wearing football pads. The Bills were still deeply in love with losing Super Bowls (Boy, I Love Losing Super bowls!).

In all honesty, while itís great that we get a new Madden game each year with new rosters and all that happy fun, thereís nothing wrong with going back in time for a while and enjoying the ghosts of seasons past.


Defense in football games is notoriously boring, and many football games throughout the years have attempted to remedy this in various ways. For instance, arcade and SNES game Super High Impact made dudes' helmets fly off and had guys yelling at you to make the game exciting. It didn't work. Defense was still boring - as was the rest of the game, in this case.

Tecmo Super Bowl took a slightly different path: the path of profound misunderstanding of the game of football. Sure, it might not have been on purpose, and it may have been simply a design choice to simplify things, but the fact remains that defense in the game is nothing like it is in football. Is this a detriment to the game? Not really. In fact, it helps to make defense more exciting.

Basically, as the offense is choosing a play, the defense is choosing from that same offensive playbook in the hopes of predicting what play the offence is going to run. If the defense chooses correctly, the play usually ends in epic fail for the offense. Otherwise, the play simply proceeds as normal. Realistic? Hell no. Often infuriating for the offense? Hell yes. But for what it's worth, the game is made far more exciting because of it, and you're not forced to choose a 3-4 and blitz the corner when all you really want to do is get back to playing offense. Then again, if you want to take control of a linebacker and blitz, go nuts. It's a great way to rack up the sacks.


Seriously, EA. I'm so sick of the garbage that you put in your sports games that I just might hurt myself. Other modern sports games aren't faring much better (there are still sports games not made by EA, aren't there?)

Anyway, Tecmo Super Bowl was like playing football with Mega Man's slightly less awesome and really sweaty but still totally cool brother. Catch a kickoff and hear the familiar offensive anthem kick in immediately, telling you to run the shit out of that ball. Score a touchdown and revel not in the points scored but in the triumphant music that the game treats you to. But don't take my word for it!

Bo Jackson

Son of a bitch.

Damn you, Bo Jackson. Damn you.

So, yeah, Bo's in there too. Take that how you will.

What more do I need to say? The fact that devoted fans of the series still update the game's rosters every year should stand as the ultimate testament to this game's quality. It is, and always shall be, the greatest sports game of all time.

Feel free to disagree with me in the comments, but be forewarned: you'll automatically be wrong. And Kanye, no, I will not allow you to interrupt me and tell me that Madden is the best football game of all time. Get out of here.

Also, if Samit doesnít comment on this post, I will consider my life a failure. ;)
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About Andrew Kauzone of us since 5:10 PM on 04.30.2009

In loving memory: PAX 2009 (thanks ZombiePlatypus! And WalkYourPath, of course)

I'm Kauza, which is pronounced like cause-uh. My real name's Andrew Kauz, if you'd rather go for that.

I like talking to Dtoid people, so please add me on your favorite social networking site:
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/kauza
Gchat: santakauz[at]gmail.com.

Basics: I'm 25, and I write things.

Eternal thanks go out to Y0j1mb0 for the amazing header image you see above. So, thanks, sir!

Look at some of the things I've written.

Things on the Front Page:

Mass Effect, Metal Gear, Moon Unit, and more: An interview with Jennifer Hale
The Future: Demanding more from the voices of videogames
Love/Hate: A plea to play as a female Shepard
A warning: Regrets from a former life and experiences yet unlived
Top ten games for people who hate Thanksgiving
The wrong thing: Being evil should be more like sex
Staying dry in a sea of spoilers is a matter of building a boat
Lessons on taking games just seriously enough
Come, take your pilgrimage to gaming's one true mecca
Here's to you, random-JRPG-dialogue-writer-man
The forgotten: Crushing disappointment at the hands of Crash 'n the Boys
The people who have the power to change the world
Improving game communities: Enough with the negativity
The draw of exploration: Antarctica to Oblivion, Shackleton to Shadow Complex
I suck at games: BlazBlue and a slapdash attempt at fisticuffs
I, the Author: My Everest
Untapped Potential: The Gamer's Education
Other Worlds than These: Our World, Only Different

A series sort of thing about status effects
Toxic Megacolon and other fresh status effects
Curse you, status effects, stop confusing my heart
Status effects are poisons that turn my silent heart to stone
Also check out the related forum thread.

The Fall of the Titans (wherein I talk about dead or dying gaming companies)

The fall of the titans part 3: What once was shall be again
The fall of the titans: Sega died so that we might dream of the future
The fall of the titans: Why do the giants of gaming die?

Stories from the Past (a series about my experiences playing certain games):

Stories from the Past: Tobal 2, Tomba! 2, and console double-vision
Stories from the Past: Diablo and the Dark Ride
Stories from the Past: What the f*ck, mom?
Stories from the Past: Xexyz and the battle aboard Turtlestar Lobsterica
Stories from the Past: The One-Balled Man-Bear
Stories from the Past: The Battle of Olympus
Stories from the Past: Suikoden 2

Storytelling (a series about, well, storytelling):

Storytelling: The Problem of Genres
Storytelling: Mass Effect, Vonnegut, and the Fourth Rule
Storytelling: Doing Nothing in "The Darkness"
Storytelling: The Power of a Single Line (Yeah, it was my first post.)

Other stuff that is good:

Lessons on taking games just seriously enough
A consuming power: The demon and the borderlands
Can games transcend good and evil?
Nothing is sacred: We won't let you go alone, but we have made a tragic decision
How Destructoid single-handedly changed my motherís opinion of gaming
Why Tecmo Super Bowl is the greatest sports game of all time
Seven reasons that I will end you in creative ways if you don't play Folklore
Mother Nature and the Impending Death of the Gaming Spirit
Times Games Forgot: The Dark Ages
The Sins and Successes of In-game Collectibles
The Lock is Broken
When Music Surpasses the Game
Truckasaurus Rex and the Humor of Games
I Want to Cry (storytelling related, but not part of the series)

I have others as well that you can check out on my blog. You'll enjoy them or your money back.

Since it seems like the cool thing to do, here a list of my favorite games that is coming straight out of my ass and onto your computer screen, and in no particular order.

Fallout 3
Uncharted 2
Suikoden 2
Mass Effect / ME2
Metal Gear Solid followed by any number you can think of
Tales of Somethingendinginia (OK, and the Abyss)
Battlefield: Bad Company
Xbox LIVE:kauza
PSN ID:santakauz
Mii code:kauza


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