Retro Bowl Sacks Madden Mobile on the App Store

Matthew Liu , Contributing Writer

After completing an exhausting test, many students may choose to take a power nap before their next period, hoping to recover from a restless night of studying. For the dedicated students at CRLS, sleep can wait. Reaching for their phones, they instead take up another gauntlet, that of Retro Bowl.

Inspired by the 1987 American Football arcade game, Tecmo Bowl, Retro Bowl combines the pixelated 2D graphics of the past with contemporary touches, like the incorporation of touch-play mobile gaming mechanics, to create a nostalgic yet refreshing user experience. Featuring all 32 NFL franchises, the goal of the game is for the user, as coach and general manager, to build a coaching staff and team roster that are strong enough to win the “Retro Bowl,” equivalent to the NFL’s Super Bowl.

Once a season is completed, the user then has a choice to either re-sign with their current team, or leave for a more auspicious franchise, depending on the user’s previous success. Throughout the game, the user is confronted with a multitude of challenges, such as handling controversy surrounding a franchise’s star player, or dealing with toxic teammates that are detrimental to team morale and performance. With a randomized storyline every season, no two seasons are alike; the possibilities and entertainment are endless.

The decline of Madden Mobile, which has long dominated the NFL esports market, has left a substantial vacuum for a game such as Retro Bowl to fill. Electronic Arts, the developers of Madden, have recycled their game year after year, retaining its overly complex pay-to-win structure that almost requires users to spend upwards of hundreds of dollars to progress. On top of the financial strain, Madden Mobile’s considerable storage consumption has prompted many of its fans to simply delete the app altogether. However, Retro Bowl was quick to fill the void felt by those still looking for a mobile football game alternative.

The CRLS community has been consumed by Retro Bowl alongside high schools across the nation.”

Unlike Madden, Retro Bowl does not require users to spend real money for an enhanced gaming experience (but for some requires a small full-game purchase), nor does it occupy a large amount of storage. In fact, its offline play allows Retro Bowl to be enjoyed whenever, wherever.

The CRLS community has been consumed by Retro Bowl alongside high schools across the nation. It helps students not only to persevere through seven-hour school days, but also to formulate a more strategic approach to daily life. CRLS senior Nelson Bellows told the Register Forum, “I approach every obstacle in my life as if I’m a Retro Bowl Wide Receiver that can actually outrun the safety for once.” He continued, “After receiving a 65 on my stats midterm, the only thing that kept me going was receiving dimes from my [five]-star Retro Bowl [quarterback].”

While many including Bellows are still caught up in the excitement of its ascent, Retro Bowl only emerged in January 2020; the future of the game remains unclear. If the developers fail to maintain the novelty of the game by not releasing updates that incorporate new features, Retro Bowl may experience a similar fate to that of Madden, and lose its spot on the App store’s rankings.

This piece also appears in our December 2021 print edition.