I found out about Retro Bowl last week and installed it on my phone to give it a try. It is a modern take on Tecmo Bowl from the 1990s and it does a great job of emulating the game while adding excellent new features.
Starting out in Retro Bowl is simple, name your coach and pick your favorite team. The weird part about picking your team is, you don’t get to coach them. There is a little check box that will make them your team but without that you are randomly assigned a team to coach. I still don’t get the point of picking your favorite team if you aren’t going to coach them.
Once you have a team the game walks you through a quick tutorial on how to pass, rush and kick. Which are the key fundamentals to this game. You only control the offensive side of the ball. All defense is played out through quick text bites that let you know what is happening.
In Retro Bowl you are not only the coach of the team, you also play the part of scout and general manager. The game features a 3 round draft after each season and trades during the regular season.
Retro Bowl Synopsis:
Retro Bowl is the perfect game for the armchair quarterback to finally prove a point. Presented in a glorious retro style, the game has simple roster management, including press duties and the handling of fragile egos, while on the field you get to call the shots.
Can you pass the grade and take your team all the way to the ultimate prize? Can you win the Retro Bowl?
When you start the game you are coaching a struggling team, I got the Detroit (Lions), who are always struggling! They aren’t called the Lions in the game, without an NFL license they can only call them by the city name, so all teams are a city, Detroit, Green Bay, Tampa Bay. But the AFC and NFC divisions are setup the same. A full season of Retro Bowl is 17 weeks plus the playoffs, if you are good enough to make it that far.
Retro Bowl lets you sign a variety of players in the game, Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Tight Ends, Wide Receivers and a full gamut of defensive players. Players have different potential, stats and salaries. Which is where the GM role comes into play. You must sign the best players, or those with the best potential, and stay under the salary cap.
Players gain eXperience Points (XP) based on how well they perform in the games each week. As they gain XP they increase levels to reach their full potential. But as they gain levels their salary also increases. It’s a delicate balancing act finding the perfect team of high paid veterans and up-and-coming rookies. Once the season ends you enter the draft and then start the next year. Along the way you can cut players or trade them for draft picks.
Thankfully you are not alone in this endeavor. You have a coaching staff, an Offensive and Defensive coordinator to help manage all the players. The coaches also come with various skills that can increase player XP, stamina or other attributes. If you have a coach that isn’t doing well, you can cut him and hire someone new. Coaches also gain XP as the team wins games which increases the coaching performance. To hire coaches you need to spend credits, which are earned through winning games.
Another feature of the Front Office is upgrading your facilities. The Rehab facility helps the players stay healthy and when they get hurt helps them recover quicker.
Improving the Training facilities increases the amount of XP players earn during a game.
Upgrading the Stadium boosts the fan morale.
The 12th Man
If managing players and coaches wasn’t enough you must also keep the fans happy. The easiest way is by winning. When the fan morale is high you earn more coaching credits per win. If the fans start turning against you during a losing season you earn less credits and won’t be able to hire the best coaching staff.
Morale is a big part of the game. Through various scenarios you must manage everyone’s morale. After a game you will be asked about a players performance and then given a choice to praise the player, raising his morale, or praise the coaching, raising the coaches morale. Or a player will get caught speeding and you must either fine him, lower his morale, or ignore it, which lowers team morale. There are no easy choices but that’s the life of a big league General Manager.
While all that sounds like a lot, it is simple and straightforward and makes up only a fraction of the game. The real fun is the actual gameplay.
The game is simple to learn and hard to master. During any play you can run the ball or pass the ball…pretty simple. To run the ball with your running back, simply tap on the running back and he will get the hand off. To pass the ball you tap on the QB and pull back. Once the play starts the QB has a little dotted arc in front of him that is the trajectory the ball will take. Line the arc up with your receiver and let go, the ball takes flight and the receiver catches it…well hopefully he catches it! You can even run the QB by making a backward pass, it seems a little strange but works out well.
When you are running the ball your player will always running toward the end zone. You can swipe up or down on the screen to avoid tackles or get out of bounds. If you swipe forward your player will dive forward to get those few extra yards. Fumbles and interceptions can occur if your player stats aren’t up to par, or if you throw the ball into a crowd. There doesn’t appear to be any penalty’s in the game, no refs either, but that doesn’t take anything away from the game.
Quarters are two minutes long in the free version of the game. You can upgrade the game to the unlimited version for only 99 cents! In the unlimited version you can change the time limit for the quarters, change team colors, player names, turn on/off weather and other features. It’s a steal for 99 cents!
Once you score a touchdown you can kick the extra point (or go for 2 points). Kicking is a two-step process, tap the screen for the kick power and then tap again for the direction. During some games you will need to compensate for the wind while kicking. Your kickers stats will determine how far he can kick and how accurate the kick is.
I’ve played through 3 seasons of Retro Bowl with my Detroit (Lions) and even won the Retro Bowl in year three! When you win the Retro Bowl you get offers from other teams for coaching positions, just realize they may not be the best teams.
Retro Bowl is a fantastic game that lives up to its name, featuring excellent retro graphics, great sound effects and endless amounts of fun. Retro Bowl is the best football game this year. It is great game to play while staying inside, waiting for real sports to come back. Turn off the ludicrous H-O-R-S-E challenge, fire up Retro Bowl and led your team to victory!