Game Reviews

Retro Bowl Switch review: A beautiful love letter to classic football games

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| Retro Bowl
Retro Bowl Switch review: A beautiful love letter to classic football games
| Retro Bowl
Correction: The original article states that you cannot rename your players. However, New Star Games has pointed out that this is possible by tapping a player and selecting the pencil icon in the top right.

Retro Bowl is a game that takes you back in time. Over the years we have seen many football (American) video games from the iconic Madden NFL series to NCAA Football to non-licensed games such as Backbreaker, football in gaming is quite popular.

A nod to classic games, Retro Bowl may remind you of legendary gridiron games like Tecmo Bowl with its arcade visuals and gameplay. It's not an NFL game, but clearly features teams that have colours that replicate all of the pro teams.

Games feature full-on rules and have all players on the field. Some football games will have three or four players depending on what style of game it is. Here, it's essentially the full experience from quarter to quarter but with the old school style. You know, from the arcades.

Retro Bowl gameplay

We talked about Retro Bowl's old-school graphics and overall aesthetics. Now, we'll dive into the gameplay. As with real football, you have your offense, defense, and special teams on full display with the quarterback leading the charge on offense. 

Although the game represents the old school, it plays very smoothly as if you know it's a newer game despite the throwback look. Easily one of the most impressive things about how things operate on the field is the play of the quarterback.

Retro Bowl kick play

You have essentially full control as to where the QB is going to throw the ball. A dotted line will appear and you need to aim it in the direction of the wide receiver you want to throw it to. So it's not just a button tap as it's all about control without it being too difficult to execute. Unfortunately, one downside with gameplay is that you can't play on defense but you can kick field goals on special teams and, of course, play offense as we mentioned. 

Depth of Retro Bowl

Retro Bowl's most intriguing aspect might be its depth. There are a ton of things you can do away from the football field. You are basically the players, the coach, and the GM of your team. You will be drafting players and signing free agents, among other things.

The draft in particular is one of the coolest parts of the experience. There's a satisfaction in sorting through players and peaking at your roster to see what kind of players you need. And making your choices feel pretty important, especially knowing that you may need to release someone on your current roster.

Drafting players in Retro Bowl

You can structure contracts, extend players, release and as we mentioned, go and sign free agents to help boost your team. Going through the weeds of professional football management adds a unique layer to the game and gives you more choice.


Although initially there are no official NFL teams, Retro Bowl features the familiar colours and cities of those professional squads. If you want to change things up a little bit, then you can by going into settings and changing the names and uniform colours of all the teams.

Since you probably love sports:

When you start up, the names of the teams will just be cities When you go into the settings, you can change the names to that of the NFL teams if you want. You can change "Chicago" to the "Bears" for example or "Los Angeles" to the "Rams" like in the real league.

Unfortunately, there's no way to change player names, but you can still get your NFL vibes with the colours and names among other things. Or, you can get creative and come up with your own team names, colours, and conferences. It seems like a relatively small thing but it's fun to play around with and adds some extra depth to the game.

Retro Bowl Switch review: A beautiful love letter to classic football games

An overall enjoyable, authentic experience for both the longtime football gamer and new one whether it's on iOS, Android, or now on the Switch. The satisfying gameplay with Switch controls combined with the off-field strategy essentially makes Retro Bowl a 2-in-1 package even with the lack of defensive play. It's a great nod to the games of yesteryear while still quenching the thirst of the modern sports gamer.
Colin  Mieczkowski
Colin Mieczkowski
MOST PLAYED GAME: Golden Tee Mobile Colin has been in media and content creation for close to a decade, focusing on a balance of sports (golf mostly) and gaming. He's also a big fan of the Chicago White Sox, Bulls, Bears, and the sport of golf. He can be reached via email at [email protected] and can be followed on Twitter @GhostPandaColin.