I was never a huge football fan growing up. I had a interest in following the Miami Dolphins (Thank you Ace Ventura) and I paid attention to the sport, but I was far from die-hard. That being said, I spent a ton of time playing Tecmo Super Bowl (1993) on my SNES and loved every moment of it. Enter one of the latest editions to the XBox Live Arcade, Tecmo Bowl Throwback, a graphics updated version of the 1991 classic. Don't worry, one hit of the button and you're back in 1993 on your 13" TV and all the glory of 16 Bit graphics.
Tecmo Bowl Throwback is modified version of the Tecmo Super Bowl released on the SNES in 1993. They've redesigned the entire graphics engine to be in line with today's HD standards ( thank god ) yet the rest of the game's features are untouched, leaving you with that nostalgic feeling we all love to revisit. If that nostalgia isn't enough for you, at almost any point during play, just tap the right bumper and the game switches back to it's ultra pixelated 4:3 version that reminds you of just how bad "good graphics" used to be. Yet while ugly, it's pretty cool.
As I mentioned the gameplay and speed is untouched, so you can still drop back 50 yards and throw a 95 yard pass, kick a 90 yard punt and the defence still gets that unexplainable burst of speed when you're about to break for a 90 yard run. And yes, you still fumble every fourth run when it's raining out, and running backs go down with injuries every second game. It was important to leave the gameplay untouched, as the nostalgia is exactly what is going to draw you to the game, and while it starts to wear off after awhile, there's enough here to keep the game reasonable in terms of value. Don't be expecting some deep football arcade game, it's still the same four pass, four run playbook and the defence pretty much just guesses at what play you're going to run... guess right and it's Sack Time!
EA and the NFL's exclusive deal comes up to bit us all in the rear again. Tecmo Bowl Throwback, unlike it's '93 counter part, has no NFL or NFLPA licensing so you're stuck playing as Miami, with blue uniforms and a Killer Whale on your helmet or Washington in black with lightning bolts. While it doesn't affect the game at all, it would have been nice to have the names we know and love in there instead of the generic ones. Of course video games is a big business and one again money trumps our enjoyment slightly, but I digress, that topic is for another day.
Overall you're going to want to pick this one up if, like me, you played the original till the cartridge broke. If you didn't, and you have some strange affinity to see how football games used to be made, this is a fun little arcade style game that you can pickup and play in 10 minute increments. At 800 Microsoft Points, the value is there, but only if you're going for the nostalgia or you have 800 points burning a whole in your Xbox. If you've never played the series, you can probably find something of a little more value in the Arcade that isn't going to rely on your childhood memories to keep you coming back.
The Way I See It: Tecmo Bowl Throwback is exactly what it claims to be, a throwback, and a great title to go back to and get that 1993 feeling all over again.