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Retro Bowl review for Nintendo Switch


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: New Star Games
Developer: New Star Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E

There’s a good argument to be made that Retro Bowl is the best football game on the Nintendo Switch.

I mean, just look at the competition. By my count, there’s Mutant Football League, a few Arcade Archives titles (including Tecmo Bowl), and Football Heroes Turbo. I’ve only played a few of those, but none of them are exactly Madden-level games. So saying Retro Bowl is the best football game on the Switch says at least as much about the quality of football games on the Switch as it does about Retro Bowl itself.

Does that mean that Retro Bowl is bad? Definitely not. It’s an impressively deep football game – albeit one with a few flaws that I’ll get to in a few moments. You get to take control of a franchise and manage its roster and its coaching staff, building the team up gradually from the bottom until they become Super B- er, Retro Bowl contenders. What’s more, the games move at a fast enough pace that it’s easy to blow your way through a few seasons without even noticing, which speaks to how addictive the gameplay can be when things are working as they should.

Of course, part of the problem is getting them to work as they should. Retro Bowl started as a mobile game, and you can see those roots in its less-than-great controls. You can either use button controls, which feel awkwardly grafted on, or you can use touch controls, which feel clumsy and imprecise. Despite my best efforts with buttons, I ended up using touch controls, and the sheer number of incomplete passes and interceptions I wound up seeing says a lot about how successful I was with them.

The other issue is that you can see the holes where the in-app purchases used to be. Your team improves at a glacial pace, and it’s easy to imagine how that worked when you could just pay to win. Obviously, I’m not saying I’d prefer to have a freemium game where you have to pay to accomplish anything, but the slow pace of improvement occasionally feels like a grind.

It’s also worth noting that you don’t play defense in Retro Bowl. Given the awkward controls, I’m not complaining too much about that – it certainly speeds the games up – but if you’re the type who loves blitzing, be ready to be disappointed.

Even with those flaws, however, Retro Bowl is generally worth it, if you’re a Switch-owning football fan who wants to play their favourite game on Nintendo’s system. It may not be perfect, but it’s miles better than anything else you can play.

New Star Games provided us with a Retro Bowl Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B