TECMO SUPER BOWL / Tecmo / SNES
Tecmo Super Bowl is pretty much content to just be a grade-up version of the NES game with nicer colors and rosters updated to the start of the 1993-94 season. Not that that's a bad thing, though, as the direction taken by the series after this one was not to everyone's tastes, so this is the last version that captured the classic "feel" of the NES games accurately (complete with peppy music playing as you move the ball up and down the field.)
The sprites don't look much different from those of the NES version other than more vibrant and accurate colors. The cinematics have been redone, however, now featuring a bunch of overly ripped dudes (seriously, what quarterback or kicker is that bound up?) and some Mode 7 effects here and there. The new cinematics are OK, but largely uninspiring, and don't really replicate the impact of the ones from the original. The music is pretty OK on the whole, with a number of remixes of the tunes of the previous game using a cool pipe organ sample as the lead instrument. Unfortunately, the classic "LEDDY! DOWN! HAT HAT HAT HAT HAT!" has been replaced by some dude who sounds like an 11 year old kid. You randomly get different play calls, which is nice, but I would rather have the manliness of the NES guy, this kid just sounds ridiculous.
If you didn't like the play balance issues, glitchiness and sometimes baffling AI scripting of the previous game, you won't much care for this one either as it's virtually unchanged. Your defense is still totally useless unless you either make the play yourself or happen to pick the right counter-play. Gameplay doesn't get quite as ridiculous towards the end of the season, actually ramping up to a decent challenge here, but as usual the playoffs are ridiculous if you have to face one of the already over-inflated teams (Buffalo and Dallas in this one.) Watching John Elway and Thurman Thomas run so fast away from the defense that they strain against the edge of the screen every single time they touch the ball might make you reconsider just starting the season over again to hope you don't get them in the mix next time (though you nearly always do thanks to their stat abuse.)
Since this is 93-94 the Oilers are still in the AFC Central, Seattle is in the AFC as well, no Jags or Panthers yet, etc. I'm sure someone's whipped up a roster patch over at knobbe.org, but otherwise teams and conferences can't be re-jiggered so you're stuck with the old school style. Also, you can only run one season using the 93-94 NFL schedule, no altering that either, no franchise mode, etc.
The real joy of the game is multi-player anyway, so the season mode glitchiness and cheapness really doesn't matter all that much. This entry really could have (and should have) improved on the old TSB formula a lot more than it did, but as it stands it's still one of the most fun NFL licensed football games of the 16 bit era.
* Gameplay Video