‘Tecmo Bowl,’ ‘MVP Baseball’ among all-time faves
We have all been cooped up long enough now that anyone who has an old video game system has probably pulled it out and tried a few of their old games, maybe for the first time with their own children.
As a kid who grew up in the late 1980s and early 90s, I got to experience a wide range of video game capabilities, but games have continued to develop far past the time when I spent hours in front of a television screen.
My two favorite sports games are from very different eras, and I just can’t make a decision on which one is my favorite.
The first one I’ll discuss was one that helped me fall in love with sports, “Tecmo Super Bowl.”
The game had the rosters from the 1990-91 NFL season and was the first sports game I played where the stats you compiled in one game were stored and carried over into the next.
So, if you played as the Steelers’ Rod Woodson and intercepted two passes in the opening game, the data from that game was stored in Woodson’s season statistics.
For the first time, sports games weren’t about just winning and losing in a vacuum that was reset when you started a new game. You could challenge yourself to rush for 2,000 yards or pass for 5,000 over the course of a season.
The game also featured the names of real NFL players, unlike a lot of games in that time that were unlicensed and used generic names. I probably still know more players from 1990 NFL rosters than I do for the 2020 NFL rosters.
I have written this before, but “Tecmo Super Bowl” also made me into a Raiders fan due to Bo Jackson’s dominance in the game. Like most of my friends, I tried playing as the Steelers first, but Bubby Brister and Merril Hoge were atrocious.
There’s actually a website that ranks the order of quarterbacks and rushers on the game, and Hoge, the Steelers’ starting running back, is listed as the 79th best player you can choose to make a running back. The Raiders’ tight end, Ethan Horton, is ranked higher. Brister is ranked as the No. 44 quarterback out of a total of 56 on the game. He’s actually one spot lower than his backup, Rick Strom.
But while “Super Tecmo Bowl” allowed me to compile stats, my other favorite sports game, “MVP Baseball 2005,” took that to another level.
“MVP Baseball 2005” was the first sports game I played where you didn’t just have control of your favorite team’s season, you had control of all its minor league teams. You drafted players, and it was up to you to develop them through minigames of skill.
Every three-year cycle, you had goals to meet as the owner/general manager that got you bonuses and the ability to expand your salary. I clearly had far too much time on my hands, because I know there was at least one season in which I played all 162 games for my favorite major league team and all the games of its Triple-A affiliate. I didn’t play Double-A or Single-A, but props to anyone who had that kind of time.
As you play through seasons, the players you started with retire, so eventually you have rosters of people you drafted or picked up in free agency over the years. Yes, they are generic names and not real minor leaguers, but you feel a connection to them and their development because you have been with them from the start of their career, so they feel familiar.
As fun as it is to get nostalgic and think about some of the games we used to pass the time, I think we’d all rather be back out on a real field, court or track.
And hopefully soon.
Michael Boytim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@BoytimMichael