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Tecmo Bowl (NES) Retro Review

Updated: Nov 20, 2022

Game Name: Tecmo Bowl

Developer: Tecmo, Sculptured Software (Gameboy)

Publisher: Tecmo

Platforms: Arcade, Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Famicom, Playchoice-10, GameBoy and Virtual Console

Release Date: February, 1989


When I was a kid, I loved this game. It was not the first football game that I played. The first game played was on the ColecoVision. However, this was the first real looking football game that I got a chance to play, that was not in the arcade. I also liked the fact that you were playing with real NFL players and not just generic players that you would not care about.

Let us see how this game holds up after almost 30 years.


For those of you are not familiar with what football is, there are 2 teams. The goal is to get the ball into the other teams end zone to score points, called a touchdown. a touchdown is work 6 points. There is a free kick which is an extra point. Then there is the field goal. This is when you are anywhere on the field and you try to get the ball between 2 end zone posts. This is worth 3 points.

The game itself does not have the official names of the teams. You only have the name of the city. The reason for this is that the NES version of this game, had a license only with the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association).

Team Listing

As you can see, you do not have all of the teams. These are the 12 most popular teams at the time. I would personally always choose Chicago as I would like to play with Walter Payton. It was one of the stronger teams on this list, along with San Francisco and Miami.

So within the game, you played both offence and defense. When playing defense, you had 4 choices. This allowed you to guess what the other team would be doing. If you picked the proper play, you would get an easy down. if not, the other team could gains some yards.

For offence, the same principle exists. You get to choose one of 4 plays, and then you execute. If you were successful you could have gained many yards. This repeats for 4 quarters of 1 minute and 30 seconds each. This does not sound like much, but remember this is an arcade type game and not a full football simulator like we are used today.

The controls are pretty good. There are not a ton of options but they do the job.

I always loved the soundtrack to this game. Every time I hear it I want to play a few games on my NES. This is evidence that a good soundtrack can go a long way to game enjoyment. Here is a sample full game for your pleasure.

Tecmo Bowl (NES) - Sample Full Game


This game holds up pretty well. There have been more recent versions of this particular game with roster updates. This means that there is still a following for this great game. In terms of sports, it is awesome. Where the Madden games that came later, looked to simulate football, this game just takes the sport and makes it fun, without making it too complicated.

The fact that you can play with old school players is pretty cool. The graphics looked great for their time. yeah the audience is not great but the field and players look awesome.

I think games like this are lacking in today's gaming landscape. I think that there is an audience for well done old school arcade like sports games. This is also true for other sports like Hockey and Baseball. They tried to release Old Time Hockey which was supposed to be a throwback but from what I have seen, it does not capture the spirit of these old time games.

All, in all, I think that it is a great game to just pick up and play. If you want to play longer, there is a season mode. So you can play this for a while. Yes, the stats are not as developed but who cares. if you want all that, EA has been making Madden football games for over 25 years. This hold up really well and in my mind is one of the best sports games on any system.

Rating: 9.5 touchdowns out of 10

Let me know what you think. Did you remember this game back in the day?

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