Those who are fortunate enough to have grown up with the original Nintendo Entertainment System are bound to have played Tecmo Bowl. The series was the game that originally put video game football on the map, and this was before John Madden stuck his ugly mug on every EA football game. Tecmo has now seen fit to bring back the cherished franchise on the DS, in all of its old school glory.
The game is a fast paced arcade style game of football. The view is presented from the side, and players sprites sort of pile over top of one another instead of any detailed tackling animations. Players are only given eight plays on either defence or offence. This is the football game for those who don't like football games. If you're a person who casually enjoys the odd football game on TV, but can't get around the baffling complexity of the Madden titles, this is the perfect game for you.
Since EA owns the NFL licence, Tecmo was obviously unable to include real teams and player names. However, that doesn't mean they couldn't include the tools to create your own teams and players. You'll be able to select your city, logo, and colours. With enough patience, you could theoretically create the entire Green Bay Packers team, with or without Brett Favre as the starting quarterback. You'll even be able to play multiple seasons with your franchise.
Play control will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played the original game, but those hoping for something new will be able to control the game entirely with the touch screen and stylus. Both schemes were easy and intuitive, but there's something strangely satisfying about tapping the player you want to pass the ball to, only to watch a sweet cutscene animation of the rocket pass.
The graphics in the game are charming in a retro sort of way. The sprites are minimally animated, and the crowd is nearly non existent. Still, nostalgia prevents us from calling the game ugly per-se, especially the nicely done cutscenes for the special plays like 4-player blitzes and rocket passes. The game even features changing weather conditions.
Nostalgic gamers with a football fetish will definitely want to sign up for some pigskin action with Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff, which is slated for release this holiday season exclusively on the Nintendo DS.