Break out the nostalgia for the second Tecmo Super Bowl tourney Saturday

2012-01-25T23:45:00Z 2012-02-04T16:55:09Z Break out the nostalgia for the second Tecmo Super Bowl tourney SaturdayBy CORY MATTESON / Lincoln Journal Star
January 25, 2012 11:45 pm  • 

The list of rules for Saturday's "Tecmo Super Bowl" tournament is short and, for a group of video gamers now in their 30s and 40s, all too nostalgic.

Players are banned from subbing in Jerry Rice or any other blazing-fast NFL wide receiver at the running back position.

And you're not allowed to lurch.

Those who've played the game, released in 1991 on the original Nintendo Entertainment System, know this grave injustice all too well. One moment, the nose tackle is lined up on defense opposite the center. The next moment, he's unstoppably diving at the feet of a flailing Phil Simms.

(Those who never played "Tecmo Super Bowl" should just imagine Milli Vanilli winning the 1990 Grammy for Best New Artist, but in 8-bit.)

So far, tournament organizer Matt Knobbe has found about 20 like-minded gamers to register for the second-annual event. He's looking to put together a field of 32 by Saturday.

"It's a really fun way to do something competitive, like shooting pool or throwing darts," he said.

Knobbe also runs, one of the few corners of the Internet where you can find the words "Christian" and "Okoye" listed prominently among the commonly used search terms.

Okoye, the long-ago-retired Kansas City Chiefs running back, is but one of many "Tecmo Super Bowl" legends created by the quaint constraints of sports video game development in the early 1990s.

The football game was designed by programmers in Japan, who Knobbe said likely only had an NFL magazine and a stat sheet from a previous season upon which to base their knowledge of an unfamiliar sport.

So Tampa Bay quarterback Vinny Testaverde, based most likely on past rushing totals he accumulated trying not to get murdered by defenders, was programmed to be a speed demon.

Those quirks, along with the sophisticated level of game play for a 1991 title, have kept "TSB" endearing, Knobbe said.

The Lincoln tourney isn't a one-of-a-kind event. A field of 128 is expected to participate in a "Tecmo" tournament later this year in Madison, Wis. Knobbe, known online as the "Godfather of 'Tecmo,'" will be there.

On his website, he re-creates more recent highlight-reel plays, like Tim Tebow's recent overtime touchdown throw and the 1997 "Flea Kicker" of Nebraska lore, in Tecmo form.

"Brent Musburger talking over 'Tecmo Bowl': It's awesome," Knobbe promised.

At his website, you can watch those videos, buy a shirt depicting a pixelated Tebow and register for the tourney, which costs $20. Knobbe said the top three tourney winners will get cash prizes for, and there will be raffles for shirts that depict pixel versions of Okoye and "Tecmo" god Bo Jackson.

The winner also will receive a coveted championship belt, which appears to be a weightlifting belt with the "Tecmo Super Bowl" game cartridge glued to it.

​Reach Cory Matteson at 402-473-7438 or

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