Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Monday, August 21, 2006

A short history of football video games

Last week I wrote a brief history of football video games for our Weekend cover package on the new John Madden game. It brought back a lot of memories of Mountain Dew and Dorito-fueled gridiron battles.

One of my favorite games ever is Tecmo Bowl, and one of the best players was Bo Jackson. The above YouTube clip is a powerful reminder of his brilliance.

Here is my short history:

Atari Football (1978): Remember that part in “2001” when the monkeys are scrambling around the desert at the dawn of man? Of course you don’t. That movie came out 200 years ago. So did Atari Football, and the primitive game definitely looks its age. It kicked off modern gridiron gaming, but hardly anything about Atari Football resembles the actual game of football. There are no field goals, no PATs and no end zones. And the players look more like robotic toads than people.

Intellivision’s NFL Football (1980): It’s a few years after Atari Football and video game football players have grown arms and legs. Sure, they still have solid color bodies so nobody is going to mistake the little guys for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Intellivision’s NFL Football was a giant leap for video gamekind. Among the evolutionary leaps are fairly sophisticated play calling options and way technical (for the time) game details like interceptions and tackling. Kids played this until the end of the ’80s.

10-Yard Fight (1985): Starting out as an arcade game in 1983, 10-Yard Fight was the first football game of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Despite the name, there was very little 10-yard fighting in this incredibly easy game. It was more like Run-Back-99-Yards-And-Hit-A-Wide-Open-Player-In-the-End-Zone Fight. If you sucked at every other video game, there was no better self-esteem builder.

Tecmo Bowl (1990): The game that sparked a million sleepless nights among the nation’s teenaged boy population, Tecmo Bowl revolutionized football gaming. At least it seemed that way at the time. The lack of plays (each team gets four on offense and defense) and dull two-dimensional graphics would put the average 13-year-old to sleep in 2006. Like the success of MC Hammer, the other great phenom from 1990, you had to be there to understand it.

Tecmo Super Bowl (1991): My favorite non-Madden football game ever. Tecmo Super Bowl was the first game to feature every NFL team and the superstar players of the day. Finally, your dreams of being Bubby Brister could come true. Also new was being able to play a full schedule with a post-season. Best of all was the dominance of studs like Bo Jackson and Jerry Rice, who will go down in the annals of history as the greatest video game football players ever in their Tecmo Super Bowl incarnations.


Anonymous Cap Boso said...

Don't forget me. I could catch a pass even when the defense picked my play.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Tyler said...

This article solidifies you as the keeper of the Under 30 blog. pure genious. First I read the trapper keeper- and now this?! tecmo bowl. one difference that was a jawdropper for my gang of friends (as we skipped out of Einstein jr high to go play tecmo) was the half time show- complete with cheerleaders. talk about a need for a trapper keeper. i never layed my eyes on such "life-like" graphics.

12:32 PM  

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