Tecmo Bowl Kickoff: Just Like Old Times

You have to play as the New York Hard Knocks instead of the Giants, but Kickoff's old-school graphics and controls have a retro charm

Retro football classic Tecmo Bowl comes to DS on November 11th as the revamped Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff. This pigskin game stays true to its roots with old school 2-D graphics and the simple game controls that made the first one so addictive on NES.

Before playing, it took us a good five seconds to get over the fact that instead of playing as the New York Giants, we'd have to be the New York Hard Knocks, but we're over it. We'd love Kickoff to have the NFL teams, but there's a certain retro charm to fictitious ones that reminds us of paying SNK's Baseball Stars 2 for the NES. Besides, some of these names are great, such as the Cincinnati Sinisters, the San Diego Supernovas and our favorite Los Angeles Supercocks. That beats the Oakland Raiders any day.

If you want, you can play the game the Tecmo Bowl way, moving your players with the d-pad and throwing with a single button press. That works fine, but we prefer the new touch screen method, which allows you to select plays, snap the ball, change receivers and throw a pass with the tap of a stylus. There's something exhilarating about looking downfield, seeing an open receiver and then making a Hail Mary pass for the touch down, followed by a brief 2-D cutscene of the player celebrating in the end zone.

Tecmo reps say the game includes 60 plays, and you can choose eight (four offensive, four defensive) per game. In addition, you have the option of playing a preseason game, a 17-week season mode (including playoffs and the championship game, the Tecmo Bowl) or the All Star Bowl, where you're able to construct the ultimate team by importing players from each club.

Despite a moderate facelift, Kickoff looks similar to the original Tecmo Bowl, with simple looking players and animations. This may disappoint high-end graphics junkies, but we think it adds an unmistakable charm to this redux. However, considering we can download Tecmo Bowl on the Wii via Virtual Console, paying $30 for a slightly enhanced version seems like a rip-off.

On that note, we only spent about 10 minutes with the game, and will let you know whether it's worth your cash after its official release in November. Since it already plays better any of EA Sports' 3-D Madden DS games, we have a good feeling that Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff will quickly become one of the system's must plays for the holiday.