The 15 best video games of the 1980s

8 of 16

9. Tecmo Bowl

Released: 1987

Platforms: Arcade, NES, Game Boy

It’s hard to describe the wildness of Tecmo Bowl in today’s age of Madden, where the controversy comes from removing Colin Kaepernick’s name from a song or giving players ratings that people find less than acceptable, but has the blessings of the NFL. You see, Tecmo Bowl didn’t quite have the same licenses. As Polygon reports, the developers didn’t have the rights to use actual team names – just players’ likenesses and names.

No, you couldn’t play as the Chicago Bears, but you could play as players for the Bears. As Polygon also alludes to, though, the best player wasn’t on any team but the Los Angeles Raiders. That player was Bo Jackson. Articles have been written about Jackson’s skill in the game.

Granted, Tecmo Bowl isn’t technically perfect, as both links above note the differences in how the game is played compared to the real NFL. But it was one of the earliest games to prove that there was fun to be had in quite literally armchair quarterbacking your way through a game.

If it weren’t for Tecmo Bowl, we’d probably not be talking about Madden today, or at least not in the same form, and fans’ dedication to the game and its early ‘90s sequel prove that it’s still a game worthy of attention.