Tecmo Bowl Throwback

8.0 Overall Score

Written by on May 12, 2010 in


When I was a kid, a little football game broke out and ran away with the hearts of football fans and gamers. Tecmo Bowl was, and still is to some, one of the best football games to come out for the home console in 1988 (NES).

Today, Tecmo has updated the graphics and brought a classic favorite back into your home with a fresh looking coat of paint. Using a simple interface of only eight offensive/defensive plays, four passing/pass defense and four running/run defense plays, Tecmo Bowl Throwback doesn’t overwhelm you with a myriad of options just to get to the action on the field.

The game uses animated cut-scenes when there’s an event like the coin toss, or when a player scores a touchdown and spikes the ball or accepts a pat on the head from a teammate. These look great, if a little over exaggerated. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a referee that fit or muscular before.

For the nostalgic minded fan, the games uses a nice little one button on the fly transition from the 3-D mode to the classic 2-D form. This is fun for about a minute and then you remember why you had headaches playing this game in the past. It’s useful for field goal kicking as the aiming arrow is easier to track over the updated mode.


Visually, the game earns high marks for giving the gamers that love it a new experience to enjoy. However, the game play can be unbelievably frustrating at times. Defenders have a magical speed boost to catch up to players that are outrunning everybody, even using the zig zag technique won’t get you away from them every time. Wide open receivers will suddenly be covered by three defenders that were on the opposite side of the field once the ball is thrown.

On long passes, I can see that a defender might catch up to where the ball is thrown but on a short post play, when the ball only has to travel 8 to 12 yards, it’s amazing to see some of the defensive efforts to get there, and either pick the ball off or cause an incomplete pass. Receivers that are wide open drop the ball at a frightening rate, as well. These guys shouldn’t have made most college squads with the granite that fills their gloves.

Getting a defensive play correct is satisfying though, as calling the right defensive strategy will cause the opponent’s offensive line to collapse like tissue paper, usually resulting in a sack or a loss on a running play.

Teams are unbalanced as in the past. San Francisco has an amazing passing game. Detroit’s running back is nearly unstoppable, and Atlanta’s kick returner is greased lightning. Keeping in mind that the game has neither an NFL or NFLPA license, only the team cities are represented and the names are made up. This doesn’t detract much, but can be bothersome to die-hards who love NFL teams and players.

Cheerleaders! Because no football game is complete without the girls that cheer on your team.

Online, the game plays pretty well. I had no trouble with connecting with players, staying connected and experienced a smooth game play while getting run over by my opponents. In spite of my inability to score any points so far online, the multiplayer experience works fine and doesn’t seem to lag or have any issues that I could find. Essentially, it played the same as offline, just with a better opponent controlling the other team.

Overall, the game just doesn’t hold up in spite of the new look. The game play feels like a dice and board game with random ball drops and breaking one-on-one tackles before being caught under an avalanche of defenders can be an arduous task at times.

Tecmo Bowl Throwback can be a nice trip down memory lane for a little while, but it becomes apparent that this is yet another classic game that should have stayed in the past.

A review code was provided to TMG for the purposes of review and evaluation.

TMG Grade: B-

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Author: Erik Johnsen View all posts by
A married gamer that spends time editing many of the articles you read right here at The Married Gamers. Erik sometimes reviews Xbox One games and writes articles, but spends his available free time from work or hanging out with his family hunting achievements for a higher gamerscore.

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