25 years ago, Bo Jackson played his final game in the National Football League. He was one of the most physically gifted human beings to ever compete in any of the professional sports. Eventually all we will have is highlight videos and stories to remember him by, but one medium Bo Jackson will dominate for the rest of the earth’s days is Tecmo Super Bowl for NES.
Before Madden NFL Football for your Super Nintendo, before Sports Talk Football featuring Joe Montana for Sega Genesis, there was Tecmo Super Bowl for the Nintendo Entertainment System. A cartridge that everyone seemed to have in their NES collection, Tecmo Super Bowl is a cultural phenomenon to this day. The football game some of us grew up with is still being played in living rooms, bars, and at large venue tournaments around the country.
It didn’t matter if you were old enough to watch and understand NFL football, or if you could name players by their jersey number, when that opening title screen and music hit, you were ready to pick your favorite team and play some digital football. Everyone remembers running all over the screen with the aforementioned Bo Jackson on RAI, or destroying offenses as Lawrence Taylor on GIA, or slinging the ball all over the yard with QB Bills on BUF. Friendships were made and destroyed playing Tecmo Super Bowl. House rules were invented to preempt physical altercations. When it was all said and done, Tecmo Super Bowl became legendary in the realm of sports video games.
There are many different groups of people today who help the Tecmo legend live on. Of course there are the long time friends who get together on weekends and break out the NES to get some competition going. There are the ones who refuse to let go, that keep the game engine current with roster and team updates. Then there are the true competitors that travel the country to prove they are the best Tecmo Super Bowl players around.
Every year Oogie Games holds a multi-event Tecmo Super Bowl tournament that attracts players from near and far. Picture a local bar or restaurant packed to the rafters with humans of all shapes, sizes, and ages. 8 televisions set up in the back are displaying the beautiful green grid iron and colorful 8-bit gladiators. The crowd watches intently as plays are selected, and points are scored. Some silent, some raucously cheering on the players. It is a sight to behold, all because of a game that released 25 years ago. The winner takes home a trophy and prizes, but don’t let that fool you, they play for the glory.
In the end video games bring us all together, to compete, to cooperate, and to ultimately succeed. Memories are made; friendships are formed; and there is no intolerance. Bo Jackson once said “Don’t run too fast through life, you only have one”. Go ahead and break out that old NES, call your friends, and fire up some Tecmo Super Bowl. Or get out to one of your local Tecmo tournaments and make some new friends!