I’ll just get this out of the way right now: I don’t give a shit about sportsball. What makes some people chuck tower speakers through glass tables or sucker punch a 67-year old coach during a brawl at a kid’s football game causes zero ripple in my clowny ass, ZERO! I was always more drawn to geeky shit like robotics, electronics and video games. And when it came to video games, the vast number of genres made it my most complex and subdivided hobby, where great titles like Super Mario Bros. 2 and Final Fantasy holding sway in their own separate kingdoms, with not ONE sports title to take up its own flag.
The guy who would later become my stepbrother was a punk 15-year old kid with an NES at the time, and he was rabid about football, even earning a letterman jacket in his junior year. As such, he had a few football titles stashed among Castlevania and City Connection. One of those was the laughable LJN NFL Football, with its microscopic sprites and confusing, slow-as-balls (in)action.
Even the LJN Defender couldn’t stand in the glaring light of its suckage.
I played it for only about five minutes, and decided that that was enough LJN NFL Football for 10 lifetimes and threw it back in the pile. At this time, only one game remained unplayed: Tecmo Super Bowl. Shaking my head, I popped it in and hoped for the best.
As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised that day.
Where NFL and fantasy football purists would concern themselves with shit like statistics and team loyalty, I was concerned about whether or not the game was fun. Because that’s why were in this hobby at the end of the day, right folks? I didn’t know a damn thing about football strategy or how to appreciate a good tank when I play as one, so as a 9-year old kid, I naturally picked the most colorful team on the roster, which was the San Francisco 49ers and played the SHIT out of the Preseason, clearly remembering my future stepbrother’s promise of grave bodily harm if I saved over his Season game.
The combination of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice absolutely destroyed the competition, and imagine my surprise when I discovered that 100+ yard completed bomb passes were totally possible!
Two words: Fuck physics.
And ridiculous passes were not the only fun, weird quirks one could find in Tecmo Super Bowl. Did you know that there’s a Team Data section, and that it’s kind of important? For those who have ever gone against the likes of Buffalo Bill’s Thurman Thomas, NY Giants’ Lawrence Taylor, or L.A. Raiders’ Bo Jackson know what I’m talking about. If either one of these guys gets the ball, you will never, I repeat, never catch them. Put down your controller, plant your chin in your hands and contemplate your life choices.
So what do you do when the competing team has a beasty player that gives The Flash runner’s envy? You break their fucking legs, of course.
That’s right, Tecmo Super Bowl features injuries that can knock players right out of the action! When the shit’s hitting the fan and their dude is running rings around you, bum rush their ass, mash those buttons down HARD and pray to the football gods that your aim is true. If executed properly, your head-first, high speed body missile will immediately explode their kneecaps into powdery dust, where they then get hauled off the field in a crumpled heap, finally evening the odds.
Now bear in mind, after 100+ hours of unintended testing, I can say with about 95% certainty that injuries cannot occur in the Preseason. I wouldn’t discover this little nugget until a few years later, when my aforementioned stepbrother went off to join the Air Force, leaving his NES collection behind. What I discovered during this phase was that a team’s playbook is comprised of four run plays and four pass plays, all of which are customizable in the team’s playbook.
I’m a big fan of shotgun passes and sweeps myself, as they allow me to get a little creative in their execution. I don’t like to be married to a convoluted execution; if I feel like pulling off a ballsy QB run from 80 yards away, I want that freedom, and Tecmo Super Bowl is more than happy to accommodate.
As I grew older, I began embracing my attachment to underdogs. What better hero story than the little guy prevailing over a douchie counterpart in a lopsided battle that favors douchiness? Enter the Cleveland Browns. Even with my marked lack of sportsball lore, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to discover that the Cleveland Browns were horribly represented in 1991. A stodgy QB combined with lackluster receivers and running backs made trying to net them a perfect season feel like a 3rd run of Castlevania while sitting on a chair made of rusty butcher knives.
But…I had to do it.
When you’re the underdog, you have to take what you can and run with it. After hours of testing, I discovered that W. Slaughter was most likely to catch those wild 100+ yard bombs, so when I was backed up into my own end zone, I’d pick the shotgun play that I haven’t touched in 10 downs, bomb that bitch downfield and know that he’d catch it about 60% of the time. The only downside is that he likes to get injured, so overusing him can cost you if he happens to not be in the endzone when he catches the ball. The result? Over 300 passing yards and 10+ completions during an average game! May seem ridiculous to NFL purists, but to me, total awesomeness!
But what about defense? Before the snap, you have the chance to select which player you’d like to fuck shit up with, and my go-to for any team was always the linebacker. While the frontline guys are tussling it up, the linebacker can simply waltz through the line and take out whoever has the ball. Using this method, I was able to rack up a whopping 24 QB Sacks as 49ers’ Charles Haley in one game! Real life can eat a dick!
All in all, Tecmo Super Bowl is an absolutely amazing game, and is so awesome that it has maintained a cult following with hacks that boast current rosters for both NFL and NCAA! There are even yearly tournaments held in Madison, Wisconsin to celebrate its awesomeness! When I go to the game store, I count on the bargain bin being absolutely stuffed with Madden [insert year], but you will never find Tecmo Super Bowl among that tripe. The game remains valuable to this day, commanding an average price of $20 on eBay. From what I’ve seen, that price has remained steady over time, and for good reason: it’s an amazing game!
Even if you don’t get your sportsball on and could give a damn about draft picks and league gossip, Tecmo Super Bowl stands as a sports game that is highly approachable and fun to play. Plus, when I finally nail that perfect season with my favorite underdogs, I can say without condemnation and with a straight face that I literally “took the Browns to the Super Bowl”! Now if I can only get my stoner buddies to stop getting pissed when I invite them to the Clown Cave for a phat “super bowl”!
Lumpz the Clown OUT!