Joe’s Favorite Video Games – Part II
Another loss to the Yankees last night? No need to fret, I have your remedy right here. Take a stroll down memory lane with me as we look at one of the greatest football games ever made.
Before the complex days of John Madden football, there was a game that was simple, yet detailed and fun all at the same time, Tecmo Super Bowl, or Super Tecmo Bowl as we used to call it, provided this writer with countless weekends of entertainment. If you have never played it, or even seen it, let me share some highlights and screenshots with you.
Here is the basic playcall screen. Each team would look at the same screen. On offense you would choose one of the 8 plays, while on Defense, you would also choose one of the 8 plays. If you matched what the offense picked, it put a crazy blitz on. It was simple, yet strategic as well. You could begin to watch human opponents and learn their tendencies. Once you learned them, they HAD to adjust or they would never be able to move the ball.
The playbook to the left contains a couple of my favorite passing plays. I used to love the play on the far left that has receivers crossing all over each other while going long. It was a great play and was almost always in my playbook. The one just to the right of that, which had all the receivers go about 8-10 yds and turn around was also a good short yards play. Once they turned around, just look for the one who was not covered and hit him.
Once the play got underway, you controlled the QB, which is the case in all football games. Since Nintendo only had 2 buttons (B & A), the controls worked a little different from video games these days. The receiver on the top would start with that little triangle above him. Each time the user would hit the A button, the triangle would cycle through to a different receiver. When you got to the one you wanted, you had to hit B to pass. It was challenging, because if it was a blitz, you either had to take a sack or throw to someone. It were quick enough, you could hit A a couple times and get a better receiver before dumping it off. It was tough to get used to, and many times I cycled passed my receiver, but it was a great setup nonetheless.
Running was basically a matter of how shifty you could be with the keypad. If you were pretty good, you could fake out some of the runners. A big part of it had to do with what RB you were running the ball with. The first time I played, I was using Barry Sanders, my childhood idol, and I literally ran a circle around a guy before streaking to the endzone. It was great fun.
The best part of the game was the ability to do a complete season, with playoffs, superbowl, AND stats. Not only that, but it had the setting to allow more that one human controlled team playing in the season. Each weekend, my friend Marty and I would head to the video store to rent the game. Why rent it each week? Because what 7th grader has enough money to actually by a game? Check that, what 7th grader back then had money to buy a video game. These days kids in my classroom carry around more money than me. Each weekend, we’d spend the night at one of our houses and play the game non stop so we could do a 2 player season completely through. Most of the time, we’d use the same teams each season. I would use the NY Giants, with Lawrence Taylor (Who I once had 136 sacks with in a season), Phil Simms, and Pepper Johnson. Marty would use the Buffalo Bills which featured Thurman Thomas as running back. Remarkably, we rarely met in the super bowl. One of us would always get knocked off in the playoffs.
One last cool thing about this game, so this post doesn’t go on forever (Though I could), was the way players were rated. I don’t know of a game before this that rated each player in so many categories. It seems to have paved the way for games like Madden, which rates players in a host of categories. Each player had rating scales that slid back or forward based on the player’s physical condition. I was never really able to figure out how the physical condition was determined. I think it was strictly random, because at times I was dominating with guys, and they were listed as bad. Other times, I dominated and they were listed as excellent. It was strange. The rating choices were Bad, Average, Good, Excellent. When a guy who was a FB got to excellent, look out. He was unstoppable, and almost impossible to take down. When he was BAD, they were very slow and hard to run with. It wasn’t very realistic, but fun either way.
I can’t express enough how fun this game was. I loved it so much that I even went out and downloaded it on the NES emulator for the computer. I still love it very much. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this walk down memory lane. Tune in next Sunday as we take the walk and look at another one of my favorite games of all time.