Tecmo Super Bowl II is a forgotten oddity in the football game world, due mostly to a really tiny print run - those few who did play it probably rented it from a Blockbuster one or three times rather than ever having the cart in their hands for any great period of time. It's the first step towards more "realism" in the series, which was a somewhat ill-advised choice, but the changes here are not all bad.

The game doesn't get off to an inspiring start with a crappy and needlessy hard-to-navigate menu system that for some reason also has a patriotic/Kid Rock theme. The soundtrack has also swapped out the catchy rock and organ tunes for kinda lame funk. Once you get into the game, however, the graphics have taken a major leap forward with a slightly more isometric perspective, and bigger and much more detailed player sprites. The new cinemas are kind of static and lacking in animation, however, and really look kind of half-assed, but as those who played Tecmo 3 will know Tecmo apparently decided to start getting away from those altogether at this point. The game is sort of an odd middle ground between TSB and TSB 3, looking and playing a lot more like TSB 3, but with some of the trappings of TSB like on-field music and cinematics that didn't make it into TSB 3.

Gameplay changes include spinning and dragging tacklers when you have the ball. The pace of the game has been slowed down notably, and "superstar" teams and players don't seem to be quite as cranked as they used to be. Running backs also no longer always run like all-pros under all circumstances, though it's still a little too easy to bomb passes and complete into double coverage ... all the good old defense glitches still work for the most part too. You've also got an expanded playbook to 16 plays total, basically two pages of 4 run and 4 pass plays. There's also a "trading period" prior to the season in season mode, the first incidence in the TSB series of being able to alter team rosters.

The one thing that irks me about this one is that somehow the programmers upped the incidences of fumbling up to ridiculous levels, it seems like you can't get through one half without each side fumbling two or three times.

On the whole, though not a bad game, I don't think this one is nearly worth the great expense to acquire unless you're a collector or something. If you like the more "realistic" and sedated pace, TSB 3 does it with more options and better gameplay tweaking. If you like classic TSB you're better served by the prior release.

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