Just hearing the words "Tecmo Bowl" elicited from someone’s mouth gives me chills. We all have fond memories of ripping friends apart with the likes of Bo Jackson and Joe Montana, or punishing quarterbacks with Lawrence Taylor. A solid Tecmo Bowl remake that captures the essence of the original Tecmo Bowl has been needed for a long time, and it is appropriate that one is now coming to the Nintendo DS.
The new game will essentially follow in line with the original games. Simplicity is key and each offense will get a limited number of plays, in this case nine, focusing on each offense's strengths. Those strengths are yet unknown because the game does not feature an NFL license -- one of the beloved features of the original. The defense then gets a similar playbook of counter plays for the offense and a game of rock, paper, scissors ensues. If the defense sets up to stop the run and the offense goes for a passing play the odds sway heavily in the offense's favor to succeed. Sounds like Tecmo Bowl to me.
Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff ups the ante by adding some “super skills” to the party. These skills should further accentuate the stars from the average players. The skills are granted when you succeed, and are only available to the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs. Some of them are automatically triggered, some are passive, and others are user selected. Some of the skills include: being able to avoid a sack, the ability to gain extra yards after a tackle, or throwing a rifle pass as the QB.
The controls are just like the original games, so two face buttons and the D-pad are all you should need, though, the stylus can also be used. The stylus integration appears to be promising if you opt to use it. You can lead your runner and determine his course of action, or you can select the wide receiver you want, and when he’s open you simply double tap the screen to pass to him.
There are a lot of customizable features within the game. A user can create his or her own team, and individually rate each player with a restricted number of points to divvy up. All team colors, names, and logos are able to be changed, so if someone wanted to take the time they could, to an extent, re-create the NFL teams and likenesses. Playbooks are also adjustable, with a good amount of built-in plays to work with.
The DS graphics make for a nice transition from the original NES version to the new handheld system. The player models appear to be nearly the same as the original 2-D sprites, but they are now much crisper. Also, before each game the user can decide to play in clear, rainy, or snowy weather so it should be fun to change around the conditions.
One thing that has yet to gather an opinion one way or the other with me is the cut-scenes. The original games had cut-scenes and the new ones look very sleek, but from what I have seen, they appear to be used more often. So, as long as they are seamless and quick they should not hamper the gameplay, and therefore, won't detract from the experience.
All the game modes from the original are there, including preseason, All-Star Bowl, and of course the regular season. The most promising feature contributing to the longevity of the game, though, is the Wi-Fi and local multiplayer. It is the reason the original games still warrant play today, especially after Tecmo Bowl was re-released on the Wii Virtual Console. The beauty of the game is facing off against an opponent and wrecking him or her, just like in Madden. The only difference is this game is simple and arcade-like, contributing to more wow moments. It’s a great recipe for fun, so here's to hoping the Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff developers don't forget that when the game is released this November.