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From the Nosebleeds #1: Tecmo Super Bowl

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Jon

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So this our first sports game related segment, which Bart so fittingly titled From the Nosebleeds. Sports games are usually dismissed from most hardcore gamers, but here at ONS Gaming at least half of the people writing love them when they are done right. Today I’ll be writing about an oldie but goodie, and that game is Tecmo Super Bowl.

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If one were to go back and play Tecmo Super Bowl now, you’d probably think it’s a game that was developed for your smartphone. I mean, after all the game was made on the NES, and graphics back then weren’t exactly at a premium. But the beauty of Tecmo Super Bowl is that the game is very simple to play, but is difficult in that same vein. You have eight plays, four run, and four pass. Your opponent has the same play sheet that you do. They try to guess what play you called, and depending on how well they guess will depend on how well their defense reacts to the play you called. There are other variables too, I mean, after all, just like in real life just because you called Cover 2 doesn’t mean my pass to the flat is completely useless. But yes, most of the time calling a correct (or at least similar defense) will produce a satisfactory result. Now there are certain players who are pretty much unblockable (Lawrence Taylor, and the infamous Bob Nelson) so that’s not always the case when playing against certain teams. But in the end, playcalling can and will decide the final score of the game.

There are other things about Tecmo Super Bowl too, such as it being one of the first sports games to save stats over a simulated season, along with player ratings and stats. As you know Madden does this too, and they owe a lot to Tecmo Super Bowl for paving the way for their success. Of course, it inspired some negatives too. One of which is Rubberband AI. For those unaware about Rubberbanding AI, let me explain. The further you stretch a rubber band, the harder it pulls, right? Well, games often do the same thing. The better you are doing at a game, the harder the AI has to become to still present a challenge. We’ve all had this happen at one time or another. Mario Kart is a great example of this. You hit that banana peel early on, but you can still recover. But that blue shell that hit you right before you cross the finish line? Yeah, Bowser and his cronies sneak ahead of you and now you came in 5th place. Oh, and every race you come in first, he’s ALWAYS in second so if you have a bad race it’s guaran-damn-teed that you’re not going to get that gold trophy.  That’s Rubberband AI, and how Tecmo Super Bowl handles it is that the more consecutive games you win, the harder it is to continue your win streak. Bill Simmons calls this the “No Bleeping Way Game”, as in, there is no bleeping way you’re winning. It is very hard to go through a Tecmo Super Bowl season undefeated, in fact, that only time I’ve done it is on Nestopia with save states. The computer can and will guess your plays, get bullshit interceptions, bat your passes down at the line, and you will fumble every possession. Of course, if you play Madden, you’ve encountered all this before.

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I hate you so goddamned much

There’s also a lot of issues with certain players just being outright dominant. Besides L.T. and Bob Nelson, you have QB Eagles (Randall Cunningham), the most dominant quarterback in the game, Jerry Rice who caught everything thrown his way, Barry Sanders, the list goes on and on. However, the most dominant player in the game, bar none, no comparison, he made not being able to play as the Raiders a house rule with most people: Bo Jackson. Bo, or his virtual counterpart is called “Tecmo Bo” is probably the most ridiculous video game athlete to ever exist. Tecmo Bo could run out an entire quarter in one play and then score. Tecmo Bo was so dominant, that if you were playing the Raiders in the Super Bowl you were gonna get screwed hard. There have been other athletes in games who have been outright dominant: Michael Vick (Madden 2004), Jeremy Roenick (NHLPA ‘93), Ken Griffey Jr (KGJr Baseball), and if you want to count wrestlers as athletes, Brock Lesnar from Here Comes the Pain, these are truly worthy competitors to be inducted into the virtual sports hall of fame.

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A statline of this is totally possible when playing as Tecmo Bo

But none of them have had the impact of Tecmo Bo. Bo Jackson has admitted people will often come up and tell them of wacky Tecmo Super Bowl stories concerning him. Goes to show you how much of an impact he and this game have had. As far as teams goes, most serious players roll with the Giants, Raiders, Eagles (solely because of Cunningham), Redskins, Cowboys, Oilers or 49ers.

But despite its problems, Tecmo Super Bowl is a great game that, surprisingly, especially being a sports game, you can pop in and have fun even now. Infact, the game is so popular that there is a website that not only added more teams into the game to expand the roster to all 32 NFL teams, but update the players every year. It’s pretty amazing to pick the Broncos and have Peyton Manning pass all over the 2013 Patriots defense. As far as impact goes for football simulation games, Tecmo Super Bowl revolutionized everything. And for people such as myself, has become the standard bearer for which all football, and even sports games in general, are judged. From the nosebleed section of The ONSGaming Stadium, this is superfan Jon signing out.

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