Tecmo Bowl Throwback Impressions

Posted May 3rd, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Tecmo Bowl Throwback is basically a carbon copy of Tecmo Super Bowl with a few notable exceptions. There is now a “3D” mode with updated graphics, online play has been added, and the game lost all elements of the NFL license.

Anything that might annoy you about playing a game that is nearly 20 years old remains. There have been no advancements made with the gameplay. That might be something that fans of TSB actually are pleased while it may cause others to wonder why they would want this now.

It seems practically impossible to hit a receiver in stride with a pass. You also have to manually switch the player to control on defense prior to every single play. Things like those are what bothered me the most. The question is whether the fun factor and nostalgia can overcome those things.

There are ways to customize the game, with player and team names being open to editing. With the player names especially this is important given that the rosters used in TBT are from 1993. So identifying who they are and their skill set is important. Those changes do carry over online. However there is no way to change team colors or alter the end zones, which makes re-creation of NFL teams impossible.

Online play definitely brings in something new, somewhat revitalizing the game. Without it there really wouldn’t have been a reason to purchase TBT. My experiences with online have been mixed. I’ve had games that were really fun and lag free but there have been others that had lag which made it pretty much unplayable. There has been some speculation that the lag-free games are being seen by hosts while the lag-plagued games are from the non-hosting party. It is difficult to narrow it down to that but if true that would seem possible to address via patch.

The problem with an XBLA game is that generally post-release support is not going to be strong. It comes as somewhat of a surprise that a patch has been announced to address win-loss records from online play when one party quits. That is a good sign that Tecmo has not just dumped the game and moved on to something else. Whether they would be working on improving anything else, such as the lag issue, remains unknown.

The inability to use different playbooks online means that the teams viewed as having the best playbooks are pretty much all you see being used. I’ve been unable to find a place to view personal stats for online such as win-loss records. Also now having trouble locating opponents for ranked games which could be a sign that sales haven’t been very good.

Understanding that Tecmo wanted to keep the game as identical to TSB as possible I still don’t understand the decision to keep well known glitches in the game. This is especially true with the addition of online play as a factor. When it was limited to using glitches for single player, or even with friends playing alongside, maybe it was part of the charm of the game. That doesn’t carry over to online play where we’ve already seen rage quitting is a serious problem.

The nose tackle dive glitch is probably the one that has the most exposure. It was not addressed for the game and can still be used to sack the QB during the drop-back. I also noted that getting tackled in the end zone on a kick results in a safety. It was pointed out to me that this was in TSB as well. I don’t see how leaving in glitches that could have been addressed benefits gamers at all.

The nostalgia really hasn’t struck me like I thought it would. Of course that is something that would vary from person to person. The best thing would be to give the trial version of the game a shot. If you enjoy that then the $10 would probably be worth it. If that doesn’t strike you in the right way then it may be best to pass on it because it will just be a lot more of the same.