Tecmo Bowl is an American Football game featuring 12 NFL franchises from the year 1989. Although they didn’t have the official NFL license to use the actual team names and logos they were able to use the names of the players on those teams due to being licensed by the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association). Though the game was released in 1989, the player rosters are based on actual team rosters from the 1988 season. This is probably due to the game being developed and released prior to the start 1989 NFL season, which obviously made the 1989 rosters unavailable.
The franchises are as follows:
San Francisco (49ers)
New York (Giants)
Los Angeles (Raiders)
The rosters of the teams are pretty much complete except the offensive lineman are not named, and a couple of defensive positions are missing giving Tecmo Bowl football nine players on each side of the ball instead of the standard eleven. It should be noted however that later copies of the game had slightly different rosters. Example: Eric Dickerson, typically the starting running back for Indianapolis, was replaced by Albert Bentley. There are others differences but not many.
1 Player Game – Consists of your chosen team going through the list of other teams at random. That’s if you continue to win. One loss and you are done. The difficulty of the game gets a little harder with each team you face, which means that the computer controlled players progressively move faster.
2 Player Game – One game featuring the standard vs. mode. You against a friend
Coach -- This mode is like the 2 Player Game. The major difference is that it still allows each player to pick the plays, but the computer controls the football players and how the play is carried out.
Each team has four offensive plays to choose from. Most teams have 2 running plays and 2 passing plays. The exceptions being Miami and San Fransisco, they have 3 passing plays. The team on offense and the team on defense pick from those four offensive plays. Of course the team with the ball picks the play they want to run. The defense picks the play that they think the offense is going to pick, and if they choose correctly it’s an almost certain loss of yards or an interception. Once the plays are picked it goes to the field to be carried out. It plays like any other standard football game but with a couple notable exceptions. One, the defensive player only gets to control one defender the whole play, no switching to a guy that is closer. Two, if the QB throws to a receiver that is covered by either a human-controlled or computer-controlled player then it almost always results an automatic interception, even if that player is a defensive lineman. Because of this, it's important to pick/control you fastest, most talented defensive player regardless of what position he plays and always cover a receiver. The fastest, most talented defensive players on each team are easy to identify because they have the best (highest) stats. Most teams have one really good defensive player, several have more than one and a couple don't have anyone who is all that good. Sacks are not recognized in Tecmo Bowl and there aren't any fumbles, so interceptions are the only turnovers.
Also, one last tidbit of information. The defensive players, and only the defensive players, have the ability to dive. Usually when you want to tackle someone the defender runs right up to the ball carrier and tries to wrestle him down. For a second or two both players tap the A button to try to either break the tackle or in the case of the defender, bring the runner down. The only draw back to this tactic is that sometimes an Offensive Lineman will come along to help the runner and instantly throw the defender, basically rendering the defender useless for the rest of the play. Using a dive tackle, if it successfully connects, instantly brings the ball carrier down. But if the dive misses then it will take a while for that player to not only get back to his feet, but also get back up to top speed. And by then the runner is long gone. As a rule of thumb, only use the a dive when you know an OL is coming for you.
Field Goal/Punt Kicking
Since this game is in essence a 2D side-scoller, when kicking field goals or punts, you only have to worry about power. When the meter fills to your desired level just hit the button. Simple as that.
When the game was released for the Game Boy Electronic Gaming Monthly awarded the scores of 8,8,6,4 saying, "...a fantastic translation of football from the programmers of one of the best sports simulations ever".