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Tecmo Super Bowl


Company: Tecmo
Year: 1991
Platofrm: Nintendo NES
Controller: Default for the console


Ah, how I miss those helmets.

The Tecmo company already made a real touch-down with the game Tecmo Bowl so, it took everyone by surprise when a sequel arrived two years later. However, that was not the first surprise. Tecmo Bowl was already a solid and awesome title, so it was hard to think on a sequel, that ussually do not add something new or significant. In this case, it took the games of American Football to an incredibly new level. Tecmo Super Bowl, is really better than its predecessor, and more surprising, is that the game came from a country where that sport is not very popular, with the same gameplay and with enough improvements to be a great title by itself.


Adjusting the defense.

Just like Tecmo Bowl, the game uses a side-view perspective. Up until then, the game is the same, but you can notice that there are eleven virtual footballers in the field. When you select a play, now you have eight options instead of four, as in offense as in defense. If both defense and offense choose the same (run or pass) play, the offense can not go very far. But else, well, the offense can get devastating advances. In this game, the AI got better and does not know mercy when controlling a better team than the one controlled by the human player.

The basic controls are still the same, but to avoid you to jump between entries, we’ll mention them again: When you are playing at offense, the play will start when the player does the “hut” (where the quarterback asks the ball) and according to which formation was selected can happen anyone of the following situations:

  1. When a run was selected, the quarterback will give the ball to a runner, and then the player controls the runner.
  2. If a pass was selected, the virtual quarterback will get the ball, and using the B button will choose between 3 or 4 receivers, and with the A button tries the pass. If a defensive players happens to be stick like glue to the receiver, is an almost automatic interception.
OK, the rosters are not complete at all…

If you are at defense, the player will have the option to search for the virtual footballer controlled pressing the B button. It is done to select the best player according to the rival offense. The A button will make the defensive player to dive trying to tackle the rival, but be careful, because if it fails, will get some precious time to get up. Situations that have changed when compared to Tecmo Bowl:

  1. The fumbles are incorporated, with ussually nefarious consequences.
  2. The game clock do not stop when a player with the ball is tackled, so the timeouts are added. Remember when I said the AI can be merciless? well, when handling the clock it really is.
  3. There are no penalties, so you can still hit a fallen rival.
  4. However, a virtual footballer can be hurt, and must leave at least one game, which can be devastating.

And here we have another interesting feature: if you are playing season mode, you can choose to manage more than one team. Because the videogame has to simulate ALL of the games of the season, you can opt to only watch the final score, or see the whole match (I do not recommend that). Because of this, you’ll have to mark which teams WON’T be managed by the AI. Consider that every match involving a human-controlled team, the human must play the game. If there are more than one team marked as human-controlled, and the teams plays themselves, the videogame consider it a two-player game. This adds a sophistication barely seen at the time, and very fun to watch many human players competing themselves to see the better one at the end of the season.

Because of this, we recommend use San Francisco when playing the game for the first time.

Where the game really shines is when played between two human players, however, one-player games against the AI are really good. The game provides a mode for a quick match, an All-Star game or a full season. In this mode, the player has to play all the games for a team in a season (for 1990) and see if it can reach the playoffs where it will face three more matches. The game is able to store how a season is developing, which means that if the player can not win a minimum amount of games (of course, the division matters) the game is over. Also, the game stores statistics like passing or rushing yards, which is a nice touch. It does not change the gameplay itself, but it’s nice to see that a player you control is leading an area.


After the success of the game Tecmo Bowl, the company Tecmo managed to acquire the license to use NFL logo and name, and team names also, including rosters. So the team has the equivalent of the 28 teams available at the time at the player’s disposal. Given the quantity of teams, we will not write strenghts and weaknesses of each team, unlike the Tecmo Bowl entry, but we can say that the performance of each team is closer at the real-life counterpart in 1989. If you want an easy game , use New York Giants or Washington Redskins, or if you want to suffer throughout the season use Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Vinny Testaverde and all its orange glory. This is important, and we’ll come back later to this.

Other platforms

Nintendo Super NES

A very realistic image of a match in Green Bay

The game appeared in 1993, it was practically a port fromthe NES one, with the graphics slightly polished to pass as 16bit ones. In general, it is a very good American Football game for the console, with updated rosters and graphics, and using the data from 1992. It has a lot of niceties using the power of the new console.

  1. The touchdown zone uses the logos of the teams playing.
  2. The weather impacts the game with snow or rain, in regular sesaon mode.
  3. It’s possible to edit the playbooks during the game.

But it suffers from some issues. The first one is that the Super NES controller has more buttons than the NES one, but in this game, only two are used in a significant way, so the others are wasted. The other issue is that while the NES game appeared in a year when it was the best American Football for the console, in the same year this appeared for the Super NES also appeared the legendary John Madden Football with the same kind of impact that the NES port had at its launch, so every American Football game for a 16-bit console was compared to the Madden one, and it was considered inferior. I dare to say that this Super NES version is better than the NES one, but thanks to the Madden one, its impact was notably diminished.

Sega Genesis (Megadrive)

Yes, the players look better, that’s undeniable.

For practicity sake, all that we have commented about the Super NES port can apply to the Genesis one. With some variations:

For some reason, the graphics are almost comparables to the NES one, and that is noticeable when comparing to the Super NES one. On the other side, the cutscenes to showcase certain plays are much better in this port than in the Super NES. The sound is slightly worse. The difficult game is harder however. A halftime show with cheerleaders just like the NES version is included, but strangely absent from the Super NES.

The comparison with Madden do not help this game, because in this particular console, the Madden series reached legendary proportions.



There were two sequels for Super NES, and also for the Megadrive: Tecmo Super Bowl II: Special Edition y Tecmo Super Bowl III: Final Edition trying to compete with Madden added more realistic features to the game, but forgetting that one of the keys for the success of the NES port was the arcade-style gameplay, which was a bit more unrealistic.


The NES game was so popular, that a comunity of enthusiasts fluorished modifying the game in many ways, going from changing the teams either their names, rosters and even helmets, going as far as to modifying the teams skills, or how the AI handles them. We’ll write about some of these modifications. It’s possible to find modified roms, similar to the ones described in the site

NFL Seasons 1970-1994

Could Staubach get pass through the Steel Curtain?

Going from the AFL-NFL merge until the last season with 28 teams. It’s a pleasure playing with the different rosters, even when there were less than 28 teams. You can try your way playing with the mighty Steel Curtain from the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 70s, or see if you can win a Super Bowl with Fran Tarkenton’s Minnesota Vikings, of if you’re capable to do a decent season with Tampa Bay Buccanneers in its first year, or crushing teams with the legendary Orange Crush of the Denver Broncos of mid 70s.

The game quickly adapts to seasons with less than 28 teams, even playing with teams relying less on passes is an interesting test.


In case you don’t recognize the teams with notorious uniforms: Orlando Thunder vs Oakland Invaders.

This one is pure gold for nostalgic dudes. The USFL (United States Football League) was a rival league for the NFL which played from spring 1984 to 1986. Its history is quite interesting and in its names generated a lot of empathy from its fans. Among its legacy is the use of the 2 point conversion and the later arrival of the NFL to previously ignored cities until then. The WLAF (World League of American Football) was an attempt to expand the popularity of American Football to Europe, by having a league where the NFL teams could forge their rookie players. The uniforms and names were trademarks at the time. As the WLAF only existed two years, but for more years continued as a league exclusive to Europe.

In this modification, the game assume that the USFL and the WLAF did some kind of merger similar to the AFL-NFL one. It’s very interesting and funny play with these teams, even when there are some color combinations aimed to destroy your retinas. There are a lot of recognizable NFL stars like Jim Kelly, Reggie White, Steve Young and Herschell Walker amongst the players.

32-team NFL

There are 32 teams, already counted.

For some fans, the ultimate modification of this game. Playing with relatively updated rosters is a wonder and a very interesting challenge. The people who has modified this game, really put a lot of heart in it, updating the gameplay and rosters. Come on? Someone can think that playing the Falcons could avoid the ultimate upset of a Super Bowl?

What is really fascinating in this modification is that the feature of keeping stats is still there without changes, including how to advance to playoffs.


Outstanding videogame, which dominated sports titles on the NES at its time, and probably that was the problem when porting it to other consoles. Incredibly funny, and I’m always playing it, or a variation, when there is NFL season, specially before the Super Bowl. Highly recomended to American Football fans, and of videogames in general. Enjoy this digital jewel.


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

Console Icons taken from Retroarch.

Console Icons created by Ciro Alfredo Consentino for the software EmuLoader.

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