Free-Floating Hostility

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Adventures in Loafing and Nostalgia

In a fit of nostalgia last month, I downloaded a Nintendo emulator and a copy of the game Super Tecmo Bowl. It's been a great couple of weeks. The version of the Tecmo Bowl I downloaded has updated rosters, meaning Joey Harrington (not Rodney Peete) is Detroit's quarterback. But it doesn't have Carolina or Jacksonville, the Tennessee Titans still have the old Oilers helmets and there are only three divisions. Still, it's a pretty good game.

We were not a video game household, but Tecmo Bowl was still a formative experience in my life.

My interest in playing fake football is a nice parallel to the evolutionary picture of the fish growing legs and eventually becoming a human. First, I had a box of plastic magnetic numbers that I segregated by color and played against each other on cut up wine boxes. Then I had a game I would play against my father, where we would pick plays offense vs. defense, put them inside a little plastic casing, spin, then move the football accordingly up and down a field. Then, Anna's advisor's son had one of those vibrating-board football games where you could set up a formation and then turn on the juice and the pieces bounce into one another. Then, one of my friends had a text-based game where you could call plays against the computer and then watch them executed by a series of Xs and Os.

Tecmo Bowl was the first time I crossed the line into controlling characters. And I played it a lot. My friend Chris had an NES and we would spend entire weekends playing multiple seasons on the game. But it was just the game. Tecmo Bowl also had these sweet cutaway graphics of touchdown and sack celebrations, as well as animated halftime show. The playbook is tiny compared to future games and the game play and graphics are positively primative next to what Madden or EA Sports is putting out. But I think realism is overrated in video games. Call me an impressionist, but if I want a real-life looking football game, I'll turn on the NFL Network. Of course, I can't seem to get the Lions past the first round of the playoffs, so maybe there's more realism than I thought.

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