Tecmo Bowl (iPhone/iTouch)ESRB:
Some of my fondest memories as a youth are playing “Tecmo Bowl” on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Pounding the ball with the likes of Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson or airing out a hail-mary pass to Mark “Super” Duper. Those memories have been with me for years. So when I heard Tecmo Bowl was coming to the iPhone and iTouch I was pumped and looking to relive some of those classic games I had when I was a young teen. Unfortunately, Tecmo Bowl for the iPhone/iTouch didn’t exactly leave me with any fond memories or enjoyable moments for that matter. This game is best left to the consoles.
Unlike the original Tecmo Bowl which contained twelve teams, each equipped with four plays (for the most part), Tecmo Bowl for the iPhone/iTouch contains twenty eight teams (plus two all-star squads) and 8 plays. It is a side-scrolling game where the game is controlled with the touch screen. There are three modes ranging from single games to full seasons of Tecmo Bowl football. Players can choose from the 28 regular teams in both single game Preseason mode and full Season mode. In Season mode, you can pick a team to take the championship as both player and coach. I spent the bulk of my time with game in season mode.
After the game flips the coin and determines which side with kickoff, the game begins and so do the issues. First of all, the players are simply too small for the iPhone’s tiny screen. For instance, when on defense you need to tap on a player to force them to tackle the opponent. This is fine in theory but in reality this simple control obstructs the game and you therefore cannot see plays developing. Tapping players to make tackles obstructs your view of the game. Likewise, on offence when running the ball you need to juke linebackers and make quick cuts on the field. With a controller such functions are not an issue but on a small touch screen making moves like Stephen Jackson of the St. Louis Rams is next to impossible.
Bottomline, the games controls are cumbersome and problematic. The game would have been better served to reduce the amount of players on the field and have a virtual controller. Perhaps Tecmo Bowl will take this approach next time around.
My next concern with the game is the lack of licensed NFL players. Granted the original Tecmo Bowl only had a half a dozen teams and is nothing like EA Sports Madden game. Nevertheless, the absence of licensed players makes the game feel shallow. Looking at the half-time and post-game stats feels empty. When I play a football game I want to play with authentic NFL pros. Sadly, Tecmo Bowl doesn’t feature any current or retired NFL players.
Tecmo Bowl’s season mode has some redeeming qualities if you can stick it out for an entire season. The stat tracking, season standings and other features we have come to love about Madden’s franchise mode are present. It is not identical to Madden but the basics are present. You can play through an entire season and win a championship. But I highly doubt many of you will make it to the end.
As I mentioned the games playbook features eight plays: four running plays and four passing plays. Like Tecmo Bowl games of the past, if you pick the play that the opposing team picks then your defense absolutely consumes the ball carrier. It is a trademark of the franchise but can make for some frustrating moments when you are on offense and need a big play.
Visually Tecmo Bowl looks great and in many regards stays true to the original game. The games cheesy cut-scenes and ridiculous half-time shows are back. The menus are simple and firing up a game is accomplished with ease. Sound wise, Tecmo Bowl is nothing special; however, some of those musical sounds and football noises sound very similar to the original. The games sound effects are good and the trademark ”hike” is back. Tackling sounds and other sounds you would typically hear in s football game are present but they do sound basic.
Overall, Tecmo Bowl for the iPhone and iTouch is a game I would not recommend to football fans looking for a Tecmo Bowl fix while on the go. The controlling players is troublesome and the lack of licensed players simply did not leave me with the same feeling I had when playing the game back in 1989. Also, when you consider the price ($7.99), there are simply better options available.