Tecmo Bowl is a football game for the NES that allows gamers to play as one of twelve teams in three different modes; A single game elimination against the other 11 teams culminating in the "Tecmo Bowl", two player exhibition game or two player coach mode where you just call the plays. Tecmo Bowl did not have the NFL license, but did have the NFL player's association licensing. Team names are done by city; Indianapolis, Miami, Cleveland, Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington, San Francisco, Dallas, New York, Chicago, and Minnesota. Players on the team were real player names statistically based loosely on the 1987 season with rosters for the 1988 Season.
Each team has nine players on offense, nine on defense one return man, a kicker and a punter. Players are based on their professional counterparts. Real player names are used. Statistics are listed below on screen player names to depict how good a player is. In most cases the better the statistics the faster the player runs, throws or kicks. (i.e Jerry Rice 95 receptions is the fastest receiver and Lawrence Taylor 21 sacks is the Fastest defender etc...) Each team has four offensive plays usually two runs and two passes. The defense chooses which play they believe the offense will choose. Depending on the combination of play call will decide the coverage. Plays called correctly will cause the defense to speed up, break through the offensive line and have excellent coverage on the receivers, in most cases causing a loss or interception on the play. Before the snap of the ball the defense can cycle through the players on defense and select the player they wish to control. Once the ball is snapped the selected player on defense must be used until the play is over. On offense if a run play is called the offensive player must use the ball carrier until the play is over. If a pass is called the player controls the quarterback and can cycle through different receivers before either passing the ball or running with the quarterback.
The game has been criticized for its lack of realism. The AI in the game has been criticized as being unrealistic. The game also lacks many important features for a football game. The play books consist of only four plays. Most teams have two runs and two passes, except for Miami and San Francisco who have only one run and three passes. The quarters are 1 minute 30 seconds and the clock stops after every play. There are no touchbacks on kick offs (only punts) and no fair catches. There are no fumbles or penalties. Two point conversions are nonexistent, but to be fair there were no two point conversions in the NFL at the time the game was released.
Tecmo Super Bowl
- In preseason and Pro Bowl mode, the clock can be set to 15:00. The clock is still accelerated, however.
- Touchbacks are now possible. Fair catches are still nonexistent, however.
- Team logos are in the endzones as opposed to the Tecmo logo. However, each team logo is used for their corresponding side.
- Three seasons can now be played: 1994, 1995, and 1996. Because the NFL had not considered expansion at the time, the Panthers and Jaguars will not exist in the 1995 and 1996 seasons. Additionally, the Browns will still exist in 1996 as the thought of the Browns moving to Baltimore was unconsidered in 1993.
- The game was awarded "Best Player vs. Player" in the 1989 Nintendo Power Awards.
- The Virtual Console version bears no reference to the NFL due to Electronic Arts owning exclusive rights to anythng related to the National Football League.
- In all the games in the franchise, turnovers are referred to as "side changes".