Retro Bowl understands Tecmo Bowl’s enduring appeal – it’s more than pixelated pro football. What matters is how the sport is distilled to its essentials, and the great moments implied through the simplicity. A bobbled catch by 8×8 pixel men doesn’t convey real world thrills, yet slight imagination turns that play into a highlight reel spectacle.
To note, Retro Bowl doesn’t feature bold visuals after a touchdown, or a visually arresting celebration after a field goal. During play, Retro Bowl doesn’t include its inspiration’s dramatic music either. Instead, the focus turns toward making football digestible on mobile, with sensible, slick, drag-and-let-go passing. No play calling (other than audibles). No defense (text conveys the simulated drama). Retro Bowl doesn’t even have a full roster, but a max of eight star players, which like the real NFL, focuses on key personalities who best sell replica jerseys.
There’s more behind-the-scenes than in play – wrestling with mood swings, fines for lateness, team morale, coaching changes. Again, simple, yet mixed with Retro Bowl’s masterful on-field minimalism, manages to depict pro football in totality. It’s clever, vintage, but adapted for now.