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Super Rugby (NES)


Company: Zap / TSS
Year: 1989
Platform: Nintendo NES
Controller: Default of the console.


Aim carefully to get extra points.

Rugby, popular sport in Japan, behind the Baseball, saw few titles in the first years of videogames. Titles very basic, and sometimes hilarious, but nobody could deny the effort in producing these first videogames of the sport.

The small company TSS try to enter the sport videogames market with a title, that for the time, and what could possibly be achieved, feels a bit primitive.

However it accomplishes the basics of rugby implementing features that for different reasons (ussualy technological) were absent from older videogames of the sport.



Even for a scrum, all of the players are very convoluted.

There are three modes in the game. The first one is for practice, but I don’t recomend it because the A.I. is too damn hard for a practice mode. The second one involves two human players facing each other, the best way to enjoy the game. Lastly, the last mode is League, where you can create your own team, best recommended for starters.

In this mode, you baptize the team (only six letters allowed) and distribute points between various categories. You need to assign at least 5 points per category, putting the more of them in Stamina, Tackling and Technique, in that order. In the other categories: Running, surprisingly, do not help at all. Passing and Kicking are as helpful as hair for a frog.

I also recommend that specify the duration of a period at 5 minutes, because even if it’s a feat to score more than a try per match in 5 minutes, if you specify longer durations, the game will feel incredibly slow.


The game provides a bird-eye’s view. At the same time, you can only see 3 virtual rugbyers per team at the same time, so passing is understably limited. It helps more kicking the ball, wait for the rival to grab it, and then tackling the poor bastard to get the ball back. Consider that even if you can pass to a teammate, and this one is ahead of you, the invisible referees will call the unavoidable Scrum.

Then came the situation of the field. Either the field has no limits, just like in the classic cartoon Captain Tsubasa, or the ovoid is made of lead because the rugbyers are slower than rheumatic turtles. Don’t be surprised if you take half of the period to get thru the middle of the field.

The controls are specified in the following way:

Controller ActionPossessing the ballWithout the ball (Defense)
Keypad (or cross)Direction
A ButtonPassTackle
B ButtonChange playerChange receiver
A+B ButtonsKick the Ball
SELECT ButtonPauses game, and shows score

Finally, if the match ends with a tie, the way to decide the winner is…Rock-paper-scissors. That’s right, that’s the way to decide who wins, if necesary, in this videogame.


Learn from the coach’s wisdom.

The game can look and feel rudimentary or simple, but it delivers the idea of a quick rugby match. You can’t deny that the game has charming touches, like the “cheerleaders” and very deep and thoughtful words from the coaches at half-time.

Maybe for these reasons, the game was not sold outside Japan. In Europe probably would have been a total failure, and in USA would be considered a weird one. We have to consider the japanese culture, where the marketing (including, and some can say, particulary in videogames) has to exaggerate faces or phrases to get attention of potential customers, but maybe this way of doing marketing in western countries can lead to the people to ignore the product.

Years later, for the Super NES console, was programmed a videogame with the same name, but made by a different company, so it’s not considered a sequel of this game. In fact, the playability is so different, that it has its own entry.


Sport Icon designed by Smashicons of FlatIcon licensed by CC 3.0 BY.

Console Icon taken from Retroarch.

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