[Editor’s Note: Screen shots referred to in this piece can all be found here. — PL]
By Hungry Hungry Hipster
Due to the success of Tecmo Bowl, Tecmo decided to make a sequel, and this time around, they included everything the original lacked: all 28 teams (Tecmo Bowl only had 12 teams), 11 players per side on the field (Tecmo Bowl only had 9 players per side), 8 plays that you choose in a customizable playbook (Temo Bowl only had 4 plays and you couldn’t change them), backup offensive players, player injuries, player conditions that changed during the game (Excellent, Good, Average, Bad), official real-life team nicknames and logos, an NFL license to allow them to show the NFL logo and use the term Super Bowl, a battery backup to allow you to play the entire actual 1991 NFL schedule and save all your stats, player profiles showing their abilities and stats, onside kicks, field goals that can bounce in or out off the uprights, and more.
Three high-profile quarterbacks weren’t members of the NFLPA when TSB was being made, so they couldn’t be included in the game; however, Tecmo knew of their real-life ability and fan popularity, so they cleverly came up with a way to include them anyway. Randall Cunningham is listed as QB Eagles, Jim Kelly is listed as QB Bills, and Bernie Kosar is listed as QB Browns. Screenshots of their profile pages in TSB are attached. Note how their faces “lurk in the shadows” mysteriously…
Interestingly, Kosar appears in Tecmo Bowl, but not TSB. Also, Eric Dickerson is in Tecmo Bowl listed with the truncated name “Dicker,” but when TSB was being made he had a gripe with the NFLPA about not getting enough cash for his likeness, so he’s not in TSB. It is unknown why Tecmo didn’t apply a generic name such as RB Colts for Dickerson, like they did with the above trio of QBs. Hilariously, according to dictionary.com, “dicker” means “to deal, swap, or trade with petty bargaining.”
In TSB, you can play a quick game in Preseason using any team vs any other team. There are three different modes per team: Man (human controls the team), Com (computer controls the team), or Coa (short for coach, where a human can only pick the plays). These three modes also apply to Season games.
As far as the uniforms, they are EXTREMELY accurate despite the limitations of the 8-bit NES. The on-field uniforms are mostly very close to real life, except any team that has red as a main color in their uniforms has pink in TSB (Bills, Patriots, Chiefs). The Giants for some reason have black in their uniforms, the Jets occasionally appear with white helmets when they had green helmets in 1991, and the Chiefs are the only team in the entire game to have three different uniforms, utilizing different shades of pink.
As far as the ability of the players, their skills were based on their real-life 1990 season stats. So all the big-name players are also, for the most part, really good players to use in TSB. There are some exceptions; for example, Elway is one of the most inaccurate QBs in TSB. It is unknown why Tecmo made him so inaccurate when he was one of the best QBs in the NFL at the time. Also, there are some obscure players who had little-to-no success in real life who are AMAZING players in TSB: Wayne Haddix (Bucs CB), Bob Nelson (Packers Nosetackle), and Lonnie Young (Cards Safety). Outside of the TSB circle, pretty much nobody has ever heard of these guys, but they are legendary to TSB fans. Haddix just happened to have his best NFL season ever in 1990, and he then slipped back into obscurity afterwards. However, amongst TSB enthusiasts, the man is a LEGEND, and is considered to be the Interception GOD of TSB. Bob Nelson for some reason is the absolute best nosetackle in all of TSB. It is unknown why this is, because he never had an outstanding season in real life. Finally, somehow Lonnie Young’s abilities got reversed (most people think it was programmer error or a glitch), so he is actually the fastest player in the entire game.
Speaking of fast players, most TSB fans will agree that the top three best players in TSB are Bo Jackson, QB Eagles, and Jerry Rice. Here are some other interesting people who are in TSB: Kevin Walker, the Bengals LB who tackled Bo on the play that dislocated Bo’s hip and ended his career, is in TSB. The Golic brothers, Bob and Mike, are in TSB. (Mike Golic is now most famous for being on the ESPN TV and radio show “Mike & Mike In The Morning”). The Matthews brothers, Bruce and Clay, literally played against each other as offensive lineman and linebacker, respectively, twice a season, since Bruce was on the Oilers and Clay was on the Browns. There is a WR on the Chiefs named Robb Thomas, not to be confused with Rob Thomas, the lead singer of Matchbox Twenty. There are also several players who have the same name: Richard Johnson (Lions WR) and Richard Johnson (Oilers CB), Bobby Humphrey (Broncos RB) and Bobby Humphery (Rams CB), and Gary Anderson (Steelers K) and Gary Anderson (Bucs RB).
Many people, even people who aren’t even sports fans, consider TSB to be the greatest video game of all time. It is a cult classic. The following is not just for the revolutionary features that were mindblowingly ahead of their time in 1991, but also because the gameplay is ridiculously fun. The game still holds up to this day almost 20 years later, and people organize tournaments around the country (sometimes inviting a real NFL player who was in TSB to make a guest appearance) in addition to playing each other over the internet. There are many internet leagues that hold drafts to determine rosters, sometimes using the original TSB players, and sometimes using modern-day players. The games are recorded in the NES emulators they use to play the games in, and some leagues upload the complete recorded games to YouTube, in addition to uploading the final stats into their website databases. Some gamers have hacked the original TSB “rom” (what an NES cartridge is called when it is uploaded into a computer) to include all 32 modern day teams with current rosters and uniforms.
Each screenshot has an explanation of what it shows in the file name. I included Team Profile pages of teams who now have different helmet designs / logos. Also, attached are Player Profiles for Jeff Feagles, Junior Seau, and John Carney, the last 3 TSB players still currently active as players in the NFL. I also attached Cris Carter’s player profile because it is my opinion that his pixelated “picture” is the closest resemblance to a player’s real face in the entire game. Scott Norwood’s profile is attached for obvious reasons. Also, if you don’t press any buttons after you start up the game, in the animated intro, a skyline of NYC, including the World Trade Center, pans down to show a football stadium. They show NYC in the game because the Giants won Super Bowl XXV, played in 1991, and were the last team to win the Super Bowl and were the current NFL Champions when TSB was made and released. There are also several screenshots of “cinema screens” from the animated intro.
I played a Giants vs Bills game (because they were the Super Bowl XXV teams), and took screenshots of the playbooks, TD cinema screens for both running TDs and passing TDs, the sack cinema screen, the PAT is GOOD cinema screen, Scott Norwood attempting a FG, the FG cinema screen sequence of Norwood’s FG going wide right, the infamous “panty shot” from the halftime show, the scoreboard showing the final score with a breakdown of the scoring for each quarter, and the post-game stat screen.
I also simulated an entire season, and here are the screenshots from that: the Seahawks and Eagles won their divisions, the final standings for each division are shown, the playoff brackets are shown, Ottis Anderson recovered from an injury and came back for a playoff game, David Meggett got injured in that playoff game, the Bills won the AFC Championship (no surprise there), the 49ers won the NFC Championship (no surprise there either. The funny thing is Bills vs 49ers was Chris Berman’s Super Bowl prediction every year between 1989 and 1995 or so), the Bills won the Super Bowl (finally!!!), and then some cinema screens from the post Super Bowl animation are shown, including a Gatorade shower!!! There are also screenshots of teams ranked by Total Offense and Total Defense, in addition to Leading Passer rankings. Also, I made a custom playbook featuring some oddball plays, like flea flickers, reverses, and a reverse flea flicker.