Reviews

Retro Bowl Is The Football Game We All Deserve

Madden hogs the spotlight when it comes to football games. It’s been a behemoth of a franchise for well over a decade, but its latest titles have left players wishing for more – and it doesn’t look like jumping to a next-gen console will fix all its problems. I actually haven’t played the last few Madden games – to me, the added content never looked worthy of the price tag. Career modes, multiple ways to juke defenders, hit-sticks, and an updated roster don’t appeal to me – I just want a solid gameplay experience that captures the heart of the game.

And that’s exactly what Retro Bowl does.

Yes, it’s a mobile game – but don’t hold that against it. Not all mobile games are bad nowadays, and I’d argue Retro Bowl is more fun than Madden. The indie gem is a throwback to the old-school football games of yesteryear, with minimalist graphics and only the most essential of gameplay elements. You just pull back your finger to set the trajectory of your pass, then release to throw. You can run the ball too, swiping up and down to juke, and the simplicity of it all is refreshing after years of unnecessary additions and bloat in Madden.

Best of all, you don’t have to play defense – because let’s face it, everyone hates playing defense.

The career mode in Retro Bowl is just as simple as its gameplay. You’ll hire coaches, fire players, upgrade facilities, and track your budget. It’s easy to understand, but putting together a Super Bowl team sounds easier on paper than it is in action. And that feeling sums up most of Retro Bowl – easy to understand, difficult to master.

Anyone can easily jump into a game, fling a few bombs down the field, and have an enjoyable time while pulling out a W. But the more you play, the more you learn about its intricacies – reading the defense, knowing when to audible, when to kick a field goal, or when to call a timeout are all necessities as you inch towards the playoffs.

Without a doubt, Madden offers all the same content – and then some. There’s nothing in Retro Bowl that isn’t in Madden. But what’s not in Retro Bowl is just as important as what is. Everything offered enhances the experience, nothing additional is added for the sake of a stat sheet.

If you can look past the old-school graphics, you’ll find that Retro Bowl encapsulates the heart of the game more than anything else on the market.

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Jon Bitner is an Associate Editor for TheGamer. His passion for gaming started with his first console (Sega Genesis) and he hasn’t stopped playing since. His favorite titles include The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Team Fortress 2, Rainbow Six Siege, Pokémon Sword & Shield, Old School Runescape, Skyrim, and Breath of the Wild. He can usually be found playing the latest RPG, FPS, or some obscure mobile game. Before working as Associate News Editor, Jon earned a Biology degree and worked in the Biotechnology sector — experiences that taught him how to put words together and make sentences. When not playing or writing about the gaming industry, he enjoys sleeping, eating, and staring at birds.

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