Handheld ports of older games usually fall into two camps: Complete overhauls and straight ports where the idea is to jealously guard what was good about the original title. Tecmo's Tecmo Bowl Kickoff fits firmly into the latter strategy.
The original, NES version of this game came out nearly 20 years ago, and it was among a handful of "must-haves" for Nintendo's original console. The DS version keeps what was good about the original but adds just enough "modern" spice to improve the experience.
If you're unfamiliar with Tecmo Bowl, it's a basic football game: Each team chooses between four plays and goes head to head using simple football strategy. It's not complicated, but neither is chess, and chess is a pretty good game.
Whether or not you've played the original, you'll be able to jump right into Kickoff. You can either control your dudes with the stylus, or go old-school and use the buttons. We liked the stylus for passing plays (tapping open receivers) and the buttons for running plays, but maybe you'll find the opposite to be true--it's a free country. The controls are quick and responsive, and the game seems to play pretty much exactly like the original.
Interceptions, touchdowns and other notable football events are commemorated in-game with cinematic displays.
The new features are as follows:
1) Super Moves : Players are imbued with special powers like a short super burst of speed or a bullet-like pass.
2) Customization: Kickoff allows you to customize team names, player names and player stats. So it's possible to play with a beefed up super team of players rocking 90 in all stat spots, but, really, would that be fair? You can also set the weather where you're playing. So, for me, every game is a snow-bowl.
3) Head To Head: Here's where the most fun in the game is likely to be found. You can take your show on the virtual road and play against other people either through wi-fi or local connect.
Oh, and what game of Tecmo Bowl would be complete without a half-time show? I'd forgotten about this awesome Easter egg from the original!
Tecmo Bowl Kickoff comes out on the DS on November 13th.