Pining for the Days of Weird Video Game Football

Let’s remember back to when Madden NFL had competition. No, not just 2K. Before Sony’s NFL Gameday too. Let’s roll back to the wild football grounds of 16-bit, and dabble a little in 8-bit as well.

You didn’t always need a license to sell your football game. It was merely a bonus to see logos, teams, and players. You could be Capcom for instance and release a football game with your namesake, ignoring the NFL license you carried with Capcom MVP Football. Maybe you could ignore most of the team and just sell your game on a position: Pro Quarterback. The latter didn’t work so well, so it was upgraded to Troy Aikman Football which made an appearance as the Atari Jaguar’s only true football title, in addition the usual SNES and Genesis arenas.

ESPN Sunday Night Football

The single player licensing must have worked. John ElwayEmmit Smith, and Sterling Sharpe all had their moments of cover honor in video games.

What of the outliers who had nothing? Sammy tried appeasing kids with the simple Football Fury (great music in that one) and SNK arcade’d it up with Football Frenzy. Sega pumped out a great NFL series that began with Joe Montana, and even Nintendo had to try with three iterations of Play Action Football (NES,Game BoySNES). Sports Illustrated decided football wasn’t enough, and crammed their game with baseball as a two-fer.

NFL Quarterback Club 98

This still doesn’t scratch the surface. Mike Ditka Football (oh dear), Super High Impact (a predecessor toNFL Blitz), Konami NFL Football (an unplayable mess), NFL Quarterback Club (Acclaim’s flashy contender against Madden), the Tecmo Bowl series (which greatly expanded on 16-bit), ABC Monday Night Football (a mode 7 nightmare), or ESPN Sunday Night Football (all tech, no style) all had their own approaches to the sport… and that’s off the top of my head.

Mike Ditka Ultimate Football

The point is each of those titles stood out. Whether they had a license or not, they all tried something. Some took advantage of the hardware, some took some goofy chances, and a handful were uniquely identified by their quirks. Whether or not they were good didn’t matter (most weren’t); they all brought something to the table to influence the others.

Super Playaction Football

Now we only have a few outliers. Backbreaker Football and BCFX (to a lesser extent, the enjoyable Backyard Football series as well) are effectively it for this generation. Publishers avoid anything sans license, and thus, we’re stuck with only a handful of options. While few would want to relive the likes of the SNES Monday Night Football, doing so reveals an interesting mechanic that lets players break free for huge gains in a 2D, button mashing mode. Mike Ditka tried stopping gameplay while the QB selected a receiver. Pro Quarterback gave a shot in the arm to visuals via digitized sprites.

Capcom's MVP Football

Each time you put one of these outliers in, you ended up with something different. While most would try a third-person, behind-the-QB view after Madden took off, most did something weird with the passing game. Maybe they toyed with the perspective, or became creative in their presentation. Whatever the case may be, each time you plunked a cart into the system, the experience was certain to be unexpected.

ABC Monday Night Football

When was the last time we could say that about our modern licensed sports games? The start of the PS2/Xbox generation saw Gameday collapse and Microsoft give up their underrated NFL Fever franchise to draw EA onto Xbox Live. Sega tried with NFL 2K, and I assume we all know how that turned out. It’s hard to remember anyone else trying to give the football genre a shot in the arm. The few times it has happened recently, the results were obvious: Backbreaker added physics, 2K created the presentation standard.Madden has since upgraded both.

Imagine if Madden was taking heed from all comers. Where would the core NFL franchise be today?

The Daily Vid: Tecmo Bowl Highlights

Tecmo Super Bowl logo - title screen

In honor of the Superbowl let us take a look at some cool videos from the Tecmo and Tecmo Super Bowl series.

Bo Knows – crazy Tecmo Super Bowl run


2006 Patriots and Colts play Tecmo Super Bowl


Tecmo Super Bowl Predicts Super Bowl XLV – Steelers vs Packers


Enjoy the Super Bowl, Go Steelers!

The Obsolete Gamer Show 4

J.A. Laraque and Ignacio/honorabili from Obsolete Gamer

This week the production value on OGS has gone up 100%. The boys of classic video gaming are back with a brand new podcast featuring an interview with Origin PC co-founder Hector Penton.

We started out the show looking back at a clip from the previous week then dove right in to the OGS question of the week which was, “When was the golden age of video gaming.” We weighed in with our own thoughts and briefly discussed the great video game crash of the eighties with our producer Joe Cassara.

Our Gamer profile of the week was from Michael Jorgensen of Zombie studios and his take on XCOM UFO defense and how it was far from the easy mode of many of today’s games. From there we moved onto a developing story within a story.

During Obsolete Gamers gaming profile of Alienware co-founder Alex Aguila he talked about a Tecmo Bowl challenge between himself and current Alienware president Arthur Lewis. After playing the clips it was clear the rematch has not yet taken place and we hope to make that happen soon.

Our first interview was with fan, writer and long time gamer Paul Hernandez. We talked with Paul about StarCraft II and fact that Acti-Blizzard does not allow LAN play for its game and discussed the worth of the collector’s edition.

In our main interview we talked with Origin PC co-founder Hector Penton on his days at Alienware and starting Origin PC. From there the topic turned to gaming where we asked what game he would play if he was sent to hell and could only pick one. All in all it was a great interview with a lot of laughs and some good information to boot.

We will be back next week with an all new show, until then let us know what you think.

Gamer Profile: Alex Aguila

Alex Aguila

There are those who play video games, those who immerse themselves in the video game culture and then those for who gaming is really a part of them. There are millions of fans, but when you truly have a love for all things gaming it sets us apart from the rest. I was honored to spend a few hours with one such person for whom gaming had touched at an early age and stayed with him throughout his life.

Alex Aguila’s love of all things electronic gaming led him to co-founding Alienware, but his love of gaming began long before.  From a very early age he became fascinated with video games, so much so, that after seeing the Atari 2600 in action he saved up money  From there he began collecting games from Colecovision to the Commodore 64. Even before the success of Alienware, Alex had an impressive gaming collection that has continued to grow over the years.

I was able to personally view his collection and it was awe inspiring. It was much more than the sheer volume, but the care he took in preserving them and the joy he had in talking about them. Many older games were still wrapped in their original plastic. Others though opened were in pristine condition and we talked about how classic games had a collectors feel long before expensive over bloated collectors’ editions of games became the norm.

What made me smile like a child in Electronics Boutique was that I could hear in his voice that he truly cared about the gaming industry. There was excitement in his voice when we talked about the past and how in the 90’s a golden age of gaming began when there was so much choice in gaming in arcades, home console systems and the emerging PC gaming market.

Simply put when you convert a shower into a display case for your collection of console systems you know you have a true gamer before you. Besides the normal Sega Genesis and Nintendo Entertainment System, Alex also had systems I was not aware of like the Vectrex which is an all in one video game system that used vector graphics. Alex then showed me an Atari that was unopened and joked about how he posted on Atari Age that he was considering opening it so he could play. He told me many people offered to send him opened Atari systems just so he would keep his sealed.

In addition to console systems Alex also had an impressive collection of handheld videos games. Long before the Gameboy, these simple but addictive games ruled the market. Then I took a look at his clone’s collection. Clones are systems made by third parties that can play games from systems such as the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. Some, like the FC twin allow you to play both Super and classic Nintendo games on the game console. Another cool device was the Retro Mini portable, a device that used the original NES cartridges, but allows you to take it on the go.

Alex is a complete fan of all things electronic gaming meaning that he can enjoy playing the original Atari 2600 using the original cartridge as well as utilizing modern equipment and technology such as emulators. He stressed the importance of those in the community who work to not only preserve classic gaming, but allow new fans to enjoy games of the past. Using programs such as DOSBox allows many gamers to play classic PC games that just won’t run correctly on today’s operating systems.

When I walked into Alex’s arcade room I almost fainted. It was like something out of my childhood dreams except for the large Dallas Cowboys star on the wall. Right away what caught my eye was the M.A.M.E. arcade cabinet next to the air hockey machine. However, something else that caught my eye was the collection of pinball machines. Unfortunately, there seems to be a disconnect between pinball fans and video game fans and it was good to see that Alex enjoyed both.

On the back wall were several classic arcade cabinets including Defender, Joust and Robotron. The systems were all from Retrocade and Alex explained that originally he wanted to keep the classic original cabinets, but it is truly a lot of work dangerous even to care and maintain due to the circuit boards and electronics used in those older systems.

Alienware-Logo-Wallpaper

After my tour I sat down with Alex and we talked about his own gaming history from his first console to meeting game designers and developers with Michael Dell. I was even able to instigate a challenge between Alex and Arthur Lewis, Alienware’s general manager.

This began during my coverage at E3 where I was able to talk to Arthur over at the Alienware booth. In addition to telling me about his own love of gaming he mentioned getting together with Alex to play Tecmo Bowl and that they were scheduled to have a game soon.

Arthur Lewis @ E3

Alex tells a story about a classic gaming of Tecmo Bowl against Arthur where the loser would have to walk around the hotel halls in their underwear. Alex lost and believed the underwear thing was just a joke, unfortunately it was not. Alex said that it has been a while since they had played and that if a rematch did come about Arthur would find himself on the losing end. Of course, I plan to press this to see if a rematch will happen though I doubt the loser will have to do anything too embarrassing.

Alex Aguila Interview

PlayPlay

Saying goodbye I felt slightly sad to be honest. Being there and seeing someone love video gaming as much as I do reminded me of my summer days of spending hours doing nothing but gaming. On the other hand it is truly nice to find people who continue doing something they love even as they mature and their lives change. My day with a true gamer, Alex Aguila is not one I will soon forget.

Tecmo Bowl

Tecmo Bowl
Tecmo Bowl

Tecmo Bowl

It may not have had the correct team logo’s or jerseys, but at the time Tecmo Bowl was the best football game out there and to this day still attracts fans of the series. It was easy to learn fun to play and even the music got you into it. Just recently Tecmo Bowl throwback was launched for XBL and PS3. There is no doubt this game was a classic.

Tecmo Bowl was released to the arcades in 1987 where it had moderate success, but when it was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System it became a huge hit. While it was not the first football game for a console it was considered to be the best because it used the real rosters from twelve top NFL teams. However, Tecmo Bowl was not able to get NFL consent to use real tram names which is why it uses the home city or state instead.

Tecmo Bowl
Tecmo Bowl

You could play as the following teams, the Indianapolis Colts, the Miami Dolphins, the Cleveland Browns, the Denver Broncos, the Seattle Seahawks, the Los Angeles Raiders, the Washington Redskins, the San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants, the Chicago Bears, and the Minnesota Vikings. Each team had its specialty for instance Miami was known for passing and so instead of the normal two running, two passing plays they had three passing and one running. If you were unlucky enough to pick Minnesota you would find yourself at a great disadvantage because at the time they did not have the best talent or playbook.

The key to the gameplay was speed. What mattered most was avoiding defenders because while the mechanics to break tackles were there the best thing to do was to avoid them altogether. If you were passing the key was to look for the route that went toward the out of bounds line or the route that would hook back toward you. Doing this allowed you to almost always complete a pass. On the other hand if you tried to “thread the needle” and pass to someone covered nine times out of ten your pass would be intercepted.

Tecmo Bowl box
Tecmo Bowl box

Tecmo Bowl wasn’t perfect and the fact was that if you picked San Francisco or Chicago versus Minnesota you pretty much was guaranteed a win. Also there were many cheap plays you could select that almost never failed. Another funny thing was you could pick a running play, run backwards and bunch together the defense and then run around them for a touchdown. This worked with better players like Walter Payton, but could be done with almost everyone.

I lived in Chicago at the time which was great because they rocked in Tecmo and I was actually good at this game and could best almost anyone. Tecmo Bowl is one of those great games that was designed so well that even in the days of 2K and EA it is still fun to play.

Tecmo Bowl title screen
Tecmo Bowl title screen
Tecmo Bowl screenshot
Tecmo Bowl screenshot

CDW – Tecmo Bowl Throwback

Techmo Bowl cover
Techmo Bowl cover

Quick, what is the best arcade football game in history? If you said Blitz I won’t hate you, but you’d still be wrong. Tecmo Bowl was football in the 80’s and early 90’s and though it didn’t achieve superstardom in the arcades when it was ported to the NES in 1987 it became a mega hit.

What was so great about TB was not only to use of real NFL teams, but the gameplay incredibly was fun. Now I will admit the idea of fading back and getting the whole opposing team to follow you only to run a circle around them for a touchdown was a little cheap, but it was still wildly fun. Now you can experience that again on the Xbox 360 and PS3.

Here’s the official rundown:

The legend is back! Tecmo Bowl® Throwback is a remake of the classic Tecmo Super Bowl, with the same rules and fast-paced gameplay as the original, but with the option to play it in brand new high definition 3D graphics. Switch it back to old school in real time with the same graphics and music from back in the day! Tecmo Bowl® Throwback brings back the gameplay you loved, and stays true to the Tecmo Super Bowl legacy!


With updated 3D graphics or the option to use the original 2D classic look and additions like online tournaments you can defiantly relive the past or introduce Tecmo Bowl to a new generation of gamers. Tecmo Bowl Throwback is available now for 800 Microsoft points on XBL. Currently there is no release date for TBT on PSN.

The Obsolete Gamers – Vol 1

Obsolete Gamer favicon
Obsolete Gamer favicon

The Obsolete Gamers covers the various events experience by Ignacio/honorabili and J.A. Laraque. In Vol one J.A. Laraque and Mark test out the FC Twin which plays NES and NES games.

In Part one we introduce Mark and his new toy the FC Twin

In Part 2 Mark demos some more classic games.

The Bonus footage covers Mark playing the classic F-Zero!