For anyone who has never played the series Tecmo Bowl is a much different beast than EA’s juggernaut Maddne franchise. The DS re-imagining is certainly not here to compete with the NFL-licensed series, but instead to give fans that have fond memories of it a chance to revisit the franchise. Even if you didn’t grow up with the series this game provides a nice change of pace from the typical gridiron (or should I say only gridiron) titles on the market today.
Kickoff feels very much like the game you remember with a few omissions. The most obvious is of course the lack of an NFL license. There are still thirty-two teams and they all bear a striking resemblance to your favorite NFL combatants. Of course Tecmo Bowl was never about the teams, but more about stats and a deep season mode and thankfully Kickoff continues the trend on the DS.
The gameplay in Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff remains the same as in the previous versions, and this can be viewed as a good or bad thing. If you are accustomed to the style of Tecmo Bowl, you will have no problem picking up and playing this game. The gameplay remains solid and simplistic with a lot less rules than the competition. But if you have been playing Madden for the past 10 or so years, there really is no depth or features in Kickoff that you will find in Madden.
Things you might take for granted now, like switching players during a play and directional aiming, are not a part of Kickoff. And I’m guessing a lot of you haven’t played a Tecmo Bowl game in years. If this is the case, it might take you some time before you get reacquainted with the simplistic controls again. I know that sounds silly, but if you are accustomed to Madden’s control scheme, this game may require you to play a couple of quarters to get settled in.
Having no pro teams in the game might disappoint some players because they won’t be able to play as their favorite team. Well, have no fear; you can use the team editor to re-create your favorite professional team. Each of Kickoff’s thirty-two teams is entirely editable right down to the players themselves. The only thing that can be annoying (besides the time it takes to edit an entire team) is the “naughty filter.” This filter will prevent you from entering any player’s name that has offensive words in it. The best example to use is quarterback Matt Cassel. If you want to create him and use him as your QB, you have to turn off the filter to use his name. If you leave it on you are unable to use his real name because it contains the same letters associated with a filthy word referring to your backside.
New to the series are the super abilities and stylus control. The super abilities allow you to get the tactical upper hand on your opponents. This comes in really handy if you are getting beat regularly. So if you feel that you are about to just give up and take a loss, just use your super abilities to make your opponent rethink their strategy. The stylus control is what you expect from the DS, you use the stylus to control your player. Even though it’s done pretty well, I personally don’t like using it. I tend to stick with the good old d-pad. I just feel like the pad gives me better control.
One of the biggest let downs of Kickoff is that the season mode is limited to just one player, as opposed to being able to play, say, Super Tecmo Bowl with three other players on the same team. This is mostly due to the fact that game is on the DS, but it should have been possible via WiFi. There is an online mode that allows you to play wirelessly with friends across the country or on the other side of the room, but if you want in on the action you will need your own cartridge as the game does not support game sharing. You can also direct trades with friends via the WiFi link, which is a cool feature but somewhat pointless considering you can create your own with the exact same stats.
Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff is a good football title that is essentially geared towards gamers who are familiar with the series. It doesn’t really break the mold so if you loved Tecmo Bowl in the past, you will likely feel right at home with this latest incarnation. If you have never played a game of Tecmo Bowl in your life, well now is a good time to start. With arcade-like, simplistic game play and easy controls, Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff gives a nice little alternative to the realism found in that other football title. Now if we could only get an Xbox Live Arcade or PSN version with online leagues life would be grand.