Tecmo’s football franchise is a true flagship in the world of retro sports gaming. Fueled by 8-bit success on the NES with the still very popular Tecmo Bowl and Tecmo Super Bowl, Tecmo expanded to the 16-bit era before one last hurrah on the PlayStation in 1996. Spanning just seven years, the series that mastered two-button football gaming retired as sports gaming moved to 3D. As with many vintage video games, there have been attempted reboots of Tecmo Bowl to stoke the nostalgic fire of gamers. Looking at both loose and complete prices, The Collector’s Guide to Tecmo Bowl sets out to cover the entire Tecmo Bowl cannon, from the late 1980s through the re-releases of late.
Nintendo Entertainment System (February, 1989) – $5 – $10
The original Tecmo Bowl had two print runs, one with Eric Dickerson on Indianapolis, and one with Albert Bentley at running back instead. Both have the same value. Despite being the oldest game in the collection, Tecmo Bowl is very common and cart-only copies can typically be found for less than $5. Oh and if you want a VGA 90 graded brand new copy, you can find it on the internet for $4,999.99.
Game Boy (October, 1991) – $3 – $10 – $15
Sculptured Software’s port of Tecmo Bowl to the Game Boy is really good despite only being in monochrome. Finding the original box for Game Boy games can be challenging so I included a more common third category here: game + manual ($10). This is the only portable release of the original NFLPA-licensed Tecmo games.
Tecmo Super Bowl
Nintendo Entertainment System (December, 1991) – $10 – $18
Tecmo Super Bowl is not just one of the best sports titles on the NES, it is also one of the most valuable. Tecmo Super Bowl is also arguably the most popular sports game on the system as it is still played today, either with the classic rosters from 1991 or the many variations created by enthusiasts for the game. Even with an ample supply being bought and sold on eBay (especially when demand picks up during football season), the cart still fetches $10 or so, with completed versions ranging closer to $20.
Tecmo Super Bowl
Sega Genesis (January, 1993) – $2 – $5
Super Nintendo (November, 1993) – $5 – $10
Tecmo’s first foray into the 16-bit era starts with what will be a common theme. The Genesis versions are less rare, less costly and released considerably earlier than their SNES counterparts. Tecmo Super Bowl for the Genesis and SNES is a port of the NES engine and is the most common game overall in the library with even complete copies being very inexpensive.
Tecmo Super Bowl II: Special Edition
Sega Genesis (January, 1994) – $10 – $20
Super Nintendo (January, 1995) – $25 – $40+
With a tag-line of Special Edition, Tecmo Super Bowl II lives up to its title as it is the rarest and move valuable game in the series. What’s so special about it? There is the debut of a new Tecmo Bowl engine and a graphical style that features a very 1990s aesthetic. The game also saw a limited release, especially on the SNES side. Coming out a year later than it’s Sega counterpart, cart-only copies easily get $25 – $30 and finding a complete version is very rare. The Genesis game holds value also as complete-in-box entries trend towards $20 and above.
Tecmo Super Bowl III: Final Edition
Sega Genesis (August, 1995) – $5 – $10
Super Nintendo (October, 1995) – $10 – $25
Final Edition advanced the familiar Tecmo Bowl style by adding more simulation elements like create-a-player, trading and free agency. The game also finally launched before the NFL season instead of mid-winter. This last 16-bit offering falls in-between the other two games in regards to value and scarcity.
Tecmo Super Bowl
Sony PlayStation (August, 1996) – $8 – $20
The last of the official games with a NFL and NFL Player’s Association license, Tecmo Super Bowl for the PlayStation is considered the black sheep of the Tecmo Bowl family. Different camera angles and a move to PlayStation graphics (semi-early release in the system’s life also) hinder its popularity, however, the game is very customizable and has a season mode that can literally be endless. Complete copies in good shape go for around $20.
Tecmo Classic Arcade
Xbox (September, 2005) – $5 – $10 (New)
The original Tecmo Bowl arcade game from 1988 is the headliner for this Xbox-only compilation of Tecmo arcade games. While its value (due to a lack of titles ) is iffy at the full MSRP price ($30.00), the set is very affordable now, including new copies floating around for $10. While the arcade version of Tecmo Bowl is nothing like the console versions, it is still a must-have for Tecmo enthusiasts.
Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff
Nintendo DS (November, 2008) – $4 – $8 (New)
The first new Tecmo Bowl title in 12 years, Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff works around the lack of a NFL license by making the teams and players completely customizable. While the playbooks and game options are the same as the original Tecmo Super Bowl, the tiny sprites and graphics are a little lacking. Still, if you need a portable Tecmo Bowl fix, the game is very inexpensive with new copies available for less than $10.
Wii Virtual Console (March, 2007) – $5
There’s more than meets the eye when looking at the Virtual Console release of Tecmo Bowl. Many outlets reported this was a port of the 1989 NES game but this is, in fact, a port of the 1990 Famicom version of Tecmo Bowl. Tecmo Bowl for the Famicom featured slightly updated rosters (including John Taylor on the 49ers) from the NES version although the teams were the same. With the NFL Player’s license long expired, the Virtual Console game uses player numbers instead of names.
Tecmo Bowl Throwback
XBox Live Arcade (April, 2010) – $10
PlayStation Network (June, 2010) – $10
iOS (May, 2011) – $8
Tecmo Bowl Throwback was an homage to the Tecmo Bowl days of yore for many gamers. Reaching an expanded audience for the first time in 15 years, again you had to make do without a NFL license but the game could be edited and was essentially Tecmo Super Bowl on the NES with a makeover. The real pluses here were online multi-player and the ability to switch from HD graphics (which were blocky and porous) to what looked like an 8-bit/16-bit hybrid of the NES/SNES games. Throwback was also released on iOS devices but the price is not very attractive.