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Joystiq impressions: Tecmo Bowl Kickoff (DS)

Zack Stern

Game companies must find old IP profitable, with yet another retro remake on the way in Tecmo Bowl Kickoff. This DS diversion plunges into the nostalgia glands within our hypothalamus; we fondly associate the NES original with grade-school sleep-overs. Maybe there's a direct connection between our memories and Visa card after all.

And on that level, Tecmo Bowl wins. It's hokey, clunky, and fun. We think gamers who missed the NES or SNES versions won't enjoy it nearly as much as their John Maddens. But the Tecmo Bowl simplicity can even be elegant. You're limited to just a few runs and passes. There's no play clock. Team names and players are fictitious. Cut-scene interludes show the biggest graphical effects, with on-field play just clear enough to make out what's happening.

Gallery: Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff (10-6-08) | 10 Photos

We punt, passed, and kicked through a few quarters, and Tecmo Bowl felt much like we remember. The biggest Tecmo Bowl updates come with online matches and customized rosters. As you play through a single-player season, you'll earn more points with which to upgrade player stats. Updated from what we'd heard earlier, you'll have to choose to spend points between things like hit power and speed, instead of just maxing everything at no cost.

You'll then be able to play a friend or stranger online (or locally) with the custom team. The game won't include a ranking system, so we expect a lot of blowouts. Here's hoping you're on the winning side. You'll also be able to trade customized players – and even full teams – online.

Planned for release tentatively on November 18, Tecmo Bowl Kickoff should hit old(er) gamers square in the numbers of nostalgia. It's a simple enough game that a younger audience could also enjoy it, but kids these days are probably too busy listening to emo music to care. Also, get off our lawn!

Gallery: Tecmo Bowl Kickoff | 14 Photos

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