Alan Siegel, writing for The Ringer:
Released 25 years ago next month, Tecmo Super Bowl provided the ultimate in sports geek wish fulfillment. Using only two buttons and a directional pad, children of the late 1980s and early 1990s could turn their favorite players into whirling superhumans. Though the 8-bit classic featured all 28 NFL teams (this was 1991), expansive rosters, and a detailed playbook, TSB’s not-so-realistic quirks made it the best sports game of all time.
You could kill off an entire quarter with a single Barry Sanders touchdown run, launch a 100-yard pass with Dan Marino, and send Bruce Smith out to maul blockers en route to crushing a ball carrier halfway across the field. The game never aspired to true-to-life simulation, but it was as addictive as Tetris. As former 49ers running back and Tecmo weapon Roger Craig put it, “That shit was fun.”
I have memories of playing this against my brother in the early '90s. I thought the game was cool because it had real players, you could play a full 16-game season, and it kept basic stats. Aside from football, the same developer made a basketball game in the same vein, called Tecmo NBA Basketball. I liked that one a lot too, and would switch between sports depending on my mood.
One quibble with this piece: "The best sports game of all time" is NHL '94. Hands down.