Tecmo Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff
Runs back the clock to an era of pre-franchise mode football sims.
- Familiar visuals, local and wi-fi multiplayer, special player abilities
- Flawed menu system, wonky touchpad controls
Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff attempts to provide an audible experienced for uninitiated or lapsed players bewildered by current fantasy-football sims like Madden and 2K.
Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff runs back the clock to an era of pre-franchise mode football sims with 8-bit style sprites and cut-scene laced arcade gameplay.
Kickoff nails the style of the NES original with tiny sprites skittering across a horizontal gridiron, fist-pumping audio and some high energy cut-scene animations. You can use either the face buttons or touchpad to control your players, which can be jarring since the former works better for running plays while the latter works better for passing to receivers. Also, like the originals there are no defensive plays — you can simply guess your opponent's next offensive play, which saves you half the trouble of interpreting Xs and Os.
Kickoff also offers customisation options including the ability to change team logos and player names as well as assign attribute points and offensive powers like rocket pass and lightning dodge. Ordinarily, jacking up your player's stats and powers might cause some balance issues, but the game's reliance on blocks, fumbles and interceptions provides both fast-paced arcade action and a mechanism to iron out the difficulty. Unfortunately, the game's simplicity is underscored by a flawed menu system. During play selection, there's no field position marker, so good luck deciding whether to punt or kick a field goal. Season mode is a clunky mess that doesn't allow you to exit games once you're in spectator mode, run multiple seasons or even delete a season that you've already started.
Players looking for an accessible football sim with robust local and NWC multiplayer capabilities will cheer on Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff, especially against a monolithic Madden franchise. If nostalgia is your game, the original Tecmo Bowl on Virtual Console still remains unbeaten after all these years.
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