Real Talk: I dedicate this blog post to my brother Rob. Due to complications to his eyes from diabetes, he will never be able to play this game the way he once could. He made this game fun and enjoyable and I can’t thank him enough on the impact he had on my life in regards to the world of video games and much more.
I grew up in Seattle, Washington and playing video games is one of my fondest memories. Not just playing any game, but sharing a Nintendo with my brother. If not for sports, I’d say the love of video games is what we could relate to the most while growing up. We had a lot of games combined and therefore we played A LOT. We had Nintendo Power magazine; we were hooked. But I know for a fact there is one game, and one game only, that brought out our sibling rivalry like none other.
Tecmo Super Bowl
This is a game we spent countless hours
mastering. It was the first sports game we owned that was as addicting as it was informative. One of the earliest games to ever get a full Players Union license, there were REAL names and REAL teams for every city and NFL franchise. We studied, we learned, we battled. My brother Rob was patient with me because when I’d lose, I’d hide the cartridge… and sometimes when hiding it, it’d drop or hit a wall and the very sensitive “memory” that would save the progress of your current season (high tech stuff back then) would get erased. But after I’d cry, we would get back to it.
Some 21 years have passed now since I first acquired this masterpiece of a football game and I decided I wanted to put closure to it one last time. I chose a team that definitely was not considered “elite” but had one of the best players in the game: Barry Sanders.
My goals were to have an undefeated season and bring the Super Bowl back to Motown; win with the Detroit Lions.
Game 1: Lions 65 Redskins 13
Highlights: Barry Sanders only needed 8 carries to rack up 210 rushing yards. If you’ve ever played this game, you understand the dominant back he can be. Rodney Peete also debuts with a solid 265 yards. The Redskins got rolled big time and consider this… this season was designed for 1991, the year the Redskins won the real Super Bowl. They are damn good. Lions: 1-0
Game 2: Lions 65 Packers 14
Highlights: So Barry Sanders is good… REALLY GOOD. He went off for me in this game with 353 rushing yards on 12 carries. Peete didn’t have much to do but played mistake free. The Packers didn’t have Favre yet when this game was released… and quite frankly, they are one of the worst teams in the game. Lions: 2-0
Game 3: Lions 38 Dolphins 14
Highlights: I designed my defense solely on the fact that I needed to stop Dan Marino in this one. I did pretty well. The Lions had outstanding field position in this one due to incredible punt returns by Mel Gray. Barry only got the rock 7 times in this one but still hit the 150 mark. Such a stud. Peete fired off another high-percentage/mistake-free game. He may have sucked in real life at the NFL level, but when he’s “GOOD” or “EXCELLENT” health during the game, he can be pretty solid. The Dolphins are no slouch in 1991 but I coasted late to a big win. Lions: 3-0
Game 4: Lions 65 Colts 9
Highlights: 3 out of my first 4 games I hit exactly 65 points. Throughout time playing Tecmo Super Bowl (TSB), you learn that the game is a lot kinder to you in the early weeks of the season. Not to discredit myself, but 50+ yard runs are a lot easier during this time frame. Jeff George really sucks. Barry was just a yard shy of 250 again; my bad, Barry! Rodney Peete still without an interception. Sitting at 4-0 and having outscored my opposition 233 to 50, I felt I could really make a run at something I was never able to accomplish as a youngster. Lions: 4-0
Game 5: Lions 56 Buccaneers 14
Highlights: Tampa Bay is pretty bad in TSB but anytime I can score that many times and give the ball back to an offense that only musters 139 total yards… I did something right. Rodney Peete gets to 5-straight INT-free games. Barry Sanders had a very chill game for 159 yards and the NFC is now terrified of my Lions, their witch (me) and their wardrobe. Shoutout to the “Narnia” reference. On to the next one. Lions: 5-0
Game 6: Lions 38 Vikings 7
Highlights: The score does not show it but the Vikings defense is very stout. This one was close until the fourth quarter when I dropped a 21-spot on them. An 80-yard Sanders TD helped elevate those numbers in the 2nd half. Rodney Peete was perfect but I don’t think I threw it more than 9-10 times. Herschel Walker sighting! Lions: 6-0
Game 7: Lions 35 49ers 7
Highlights: I crushed the best team in the game. You simply do not want to play the 49ers. They can do everything at a really high level. Every player is fast. Their defense is suffocating and even their kicker rarely misses from 40+. I took the slow tempo approach to getting the “W” in this one and luckily it worked. Barry didn’t do that much. Peete was solid. A few long drives and a 49ers fumble helped keep this one in my control most of the way. Mel Gray with another solid game of punt returns. Young Chris has problems in this one, old Chris… did well. Lions: 7-0
Game 8: Lions 42 Cowboys 3
Highlights: This is right when the Cowboys 1990’s dynasty was in its infancy. Emmitt Smith is good but not great and Aikman is a mess. 10 passing yards! I owned him all day in this one. I didn’t exactly light it up on offense but my field position was insane all game. Rodney Peete finally threw his first pick of the 1991 season. It was a helluva stretch. Sometimes I wonder why I don’t just have Barry carry it on every down. Lions: 8-0 (half way to glory!)
Game 9: Lions 38 Bears 23
Highlights: When Neal Anderson is “EXCELLENT”, you don’t want any of him. He may be relatively unknown in real life but he is a TSB legend. The Bears stink on offense sans him. He was a beast and he torched me for 215 yards on SEVEN carries. I struggled to separate in this one until late. I had a lot of 10 yard gains and thus had 18 1st Downs (which is high for my style). Lions: 9-0
Game 10: Lions 42 Buccaneers 19
Highlights: I took down the Bucs 56-14 the first time around with little to no big flare-ups. Gary Anderson was trying to make me lose sleep with huge runs in the first half. My defense came to life and sustained him the second half nicely. I bet he had 18- yards in the first half. I scored 42 points but my offense was struggling. Barry had some huge TD runs. 10 wins in a row! At this point in time, I love Barry Sanders more and more. Lions: 10-0
Game 11: Lions 62 Rams 6
Highlights: My defense gave me the best field position I have ever had in a TSB game. I was on the better side of the 50 on nearly every “drive”. I scored with ease and at rapid pace; one-play drives. Fun fact: They were still the LOS ANGELES Rams at this time. Cleveland Gary torched me twice. A bad sign that mediocre running backs are taking me deep = a bad omen that games will get more challenging as we come to the end. Lions: 11-0
Game 12: Lions 35 Vikings 3
Highlights: My defense was INSANE. I didn’t force a single turnover but I think Jerry Ball had 9 sacks in this game alone. 58 total yards on offense… wow. Vikes D is still tough and Barry didn’t ever really erupt in this game. I did well on both sides of the ball. Did I say the game was getting more difficult? Interesting. Lions: 12-0
Game 13: Lions 35 Bears 23
Highlights: I very easily could have lost this game. I returned a late fumble back for a TD when Anderson could have ended me. An opponent finally outgained me in yards. You’ll learn from this game that stopping the run is harder than the pass. When RB’s are at their best, it’s hard to contain them three straight times. 10 yards isn’t very hard to get. Very pleased to take down the Bears once more. “Unlucky 13” didn’t get me this time around and we clinched the NFC Central! Lions: 13-0
Game 14: Lions 28 Jets 14
Highlights: The game is getting hard. The Jets are horrible and this game was open for the taking in the fourth quarter. Rodney Peete was awful. 3 picks was more than double his total on the season. Without Barry saving my backside, this game goes to the J-E-T-S. Thankfully for me the New York run game is probably the worst in TSB. Lions: 14-0
Game 15: Lions 37 Packers 16
Highlights: Rodney Peete is in total free fall mode. In Game 2 of the season, I crushed Green Bay 65-14. Barry Sanders was the lifeline in this one; 233 rushing yards on 13 carries. The Detroit Lions might have the worst wide receivers in TSB. I’ve waited til now to complain about them, but there are absolutely no playmakers. Sanders and Mel Gray (both RB’s) are the best options. One more to go! Lions: 15-0
Game 16: Lions 28 Bills 19
Highlights: When I saw this as my next game, I was worried. This game was made in the heyday of Buffalo Bills football (in real life). I had to slow it down and run with Peete a lot in this one. Nobody could get open and Barry had no more than two runs go longer than 15 yards. The key here is not letting them have the ball. Jim Kelly (coined “QB Bills” in this game because he was not on-board with licensing, I guess?) is a menace and Thurman Thomas is one of the best RB’s in video game history (running AND catching the ball). My tempo worked and I got out of this one with a 9-point win. Holy $hit, I did it! Lions: 16-0
Before We Get To The Playoffs: I wanted to share with you the incredible season (and unrealistic statistics) my best players put up for me! BARRY SANDERS FOR MVP!!! 42 rushing touchdowns (50 total). Siiiiiiiiick.
Rodney Peete: 45 TD via air, 9 via ground. He was a stud when he needed to be.
Jerry Ball: 58 sacks. It can be easy sometimes to be the nose tackle and dive at the QB if they are not in shotgun formation. I mastered the technique despite Ball being pretty bad.
Eddie Murray: Had to give a 97-for-97 PAT kicker some love. Only 5 field goals attempted. I believe the miss hit the right post. Better luck next time, Murray.
Round 1: BYE
Round 2: Lions 28 49ers 21
Highlights: Barry Sanders wasn’t hurt but it sure felt like he was. I got nothing out of the greatest running back that ever lived. Had to do a lot of checkdowns and scrambles with Peete. Luckily he was in “EXCELLENT” mode and was just quick enough to take the edge more often than not on the speedy Niners defense. Playing SF in the regular season is hard enough, but in the playoffs, they are another beast. I had never tried to play at a slower pace in my life. I’m not sure how I did it but I did! Lions roar on. Lions: 17-0.
Round 3: NFC Championship – Lions 21 Giants 12
Highlights: What an ugly game! I was lucky to find out the Giants were down their best RB but it almost didn’t matter. The defending Super Bowl champions (1990) are a load to handle. Lawrence Taylor is the best defensive player in the game and I’m not sure how the hell I managed to scramble for 100 yards with Peete. Barry Sanders’ slump continued and I was in panic mode late until Peete hit Richard Johnson in the left corner with 2 minutes to go to put me up for good. I also blocked 2 PAT’s in this game. With no 2-point conversion yet established into the NFL, one block alone was HUGE. I have no idea how I won. It was simply brutal. I won the NFC!!! Lions: 18-0
THE SUPER BOWL: MIAMI DOLPHINS vs DETROIT LIONS
Highlights: A rematch of Game 3 this season. Marino is their rock so I knew I’d have to find a way to stop him. Again, defending the pass is a lot easier than the run. Things got crazy right away. I sacked Marino on the first two plays of the game and then on the third play of the game… I knocked him out for good. You can’t return from injury during a game in TSB; his season was over! Wow.
“X” marked the spot and marked the end of the Dolphins in this one. Despite the Dolphins defense returning two fumbles for touchdowns (that sneaky “difficult” computer brain trying to keep it close), I was in total control and my lifelong dream of running the table in Tecmo Super Bowl became a reality. Lions: 18-0
I will likely never complete an entire season in Tecmo Super Bowl again. I like to think I went out on a high note and for anybody whoever played this game, you can respect that. It was a blast doing this one last time!
I have promised my girlfriend that I will teach her the ways and maybe even a head-to-head matchup or two (she’s really good at Nintendo).
If you made it this far into this epically long blog post. Thank you! Long live video games!