Growing up, one of my fondest memories was that on every-other weekend, my Dad would take me and my brother to an arcade. I would do my runs on some pinball machines, play some light-gun games, then I would head over to the game I think I spent the most time with: Tecmo Bowl. I remember pumping quarter after quarter in that machine. I also remember having so much fun with that game. For me, there were never any blowouts like I would experience a few years later in Madden. All the games I played were kept very close and would go back and forth between who had the lead. And the one thing I could never seem to get right was the defense. I hardly ever stopped the opposing team.
At my young age, I really didn’t know much about football and Tecmo Bowl was the easiest thing in the world to play. It had a very limited play selection which only included a few run and pass plays, and the same went for the defensive plays. In my mind, it was an instant classic. Fast forward to today. I was always hoping for an XBLA/PSN remake of the game just to see if it held up and if I still would have fun playing it after spending years of playing Madden. Well, I was excited to see that Tecmo finally released a remade version in Tecmo Bowl Throwback. And I must say; I wish I was a kid again.
As a kid, you don’t really notice how a game looks or the little things that make a game frustrating. As an adult, you look for those things. And in Throwback, there are quite a few things that made me just sit back and say “Huh?” One of those times was when I was running the ball and my offensive line opened up a pretty big whole. Well, I saw this truck sized whole and proceeded to run through it. As I made my way to it, I found myself bouncing off air. My player was stuck on something like I was being held up by a defender only there was no one there. Then I got tackled.
One of the things that I had to do with Throwback was get used to playing a football game from a side perspective. After playing Madden, you get used to the behind the QB play style. It took me a while to get used to this view, but not before throwing a few interceptions. After getting used to the view, I had to re-introduce myself to the style of gameplay. It just moves slower than that other football game and there are no fancy moves you can do to avoid being hit and tackled. In fact, you only use two buttons for the entire game. The A/X button hikes the ball and after the snap switches players and the B/Circle button throws the ball. That’s pretty much it.
I must admit that only having two buttons to worry about is kind of nice as opposed to trying to remember what button to press to stiff-arm a defender when he’s about to run you through. An interesting little thing is that if you press the Right Bumper/R1 button, you can switch between the classic arcade view and the Throwback view. So if you don’t want to play in the ’80’s pixilated awesomeness, you can play the game with updated graphics (which means that the players actually look like players). Oh, and in the Throwback view, when you score a touchdown or anything like that, you see a little celebration screen complete with cheerleaders.
Picking a play is just as simple. You have eight plays to choose from: four pass and four run. If you want to choose a run play, just hold either up, down, left, or right on the D-pad and hit the A/X button. Likewise for pass but hit the B/Circle button instead.
The look of the game is fairly decent but not the best looking arcade game released. Obviously it is much cleaner than the old 8-bit version. And the sound is straight-forward. All you really have is the crowd cheering and whistles blowing.
My biggest problem with the game is playing defense. I have always had trouble with this aspect and always will. But, to my defense, the computer AI did some pretty wonky things. The one that sticks out in my mind was I had an open shot to sack the QB. As I was about to hit him, out of nowhere (and by nowhere I mean at least 5 yards to the left of me) one of the offensive linemen dove in front of me preventing me from hitting the QB. None of my o-linemen did that for me!
The side-scroll view of the game also did not help my defensive skills. A lot of the times, I had no idea where the AI was throwing the ball. For that matter, I had very little idea where I was throwing the ball. All I really did for throwing the ball was hike the ball, drop back, hit the change player button, throw and hope that it was to the right receiver. If I spent more time trying to figure out which player the reticule was on I would get sacked.
For the problems I had with this game, it still brings back a lot of memories of when I was a kid only this time I could not tolerate all the little bugs that I failed to notice when I was little. But I still had fun playing Throwback, just not as much as I did. Although I love the simple control and gameplay, I have just been tainted by Madden. From the view to all the fancy stuff you can do, Madden is the football game. But, if you are tired of all that realism and just want a blast from the past, or just want to get your kid into football, Tecmo Bowl Throwback is the game for you.
Review copy provided by publisher.