TSB’s Secret “Juice”

The easiest way to win Tecmo Super Bowl is to lose. The reason? “Juice.” Juice is Tecmo slang for the stat boost COM players receive after each MAN win. A good video game increases in challenge as the player progresses[1]. Level 8-3 in Super Mario Bros. is designed to be much harder than level 1-3. Sports can’t add more hammer brothers in later stages, so increasing difficulty is achieved by better COM AI.

In the original Tecmo Bowl, a single loss meant game over. Therefore, increasing the computer’s skill after each game roughly matched the player’s skill. Tecmo Super Bowl, however, plays a full 16 games regardless of how many games a player wins. TSB programmers needed to tweak their AI equations so a novice player wouldn’t get steamrolled in week 16, yet make it hard enough to offer a challenge to better players. This is where juice comes in, and why you’re more likely to win the Super Bowl as a Wild Card.

Our resident PhD in Tecmology, Dave Brude, was kind enough to break it down for us.

Before every MAN vs. COM matchup, TSB subtracts a player’s losses from their wins. It uses this differential to boost COM stats according to the chart below:

0x1DF10 Stat Boosts
0/PRE 0 1 0 0 0
1 1 2 1 1 1
2 1 2 1 2 2
3 1 2 2 3 2
4 2 2 2 3 3
5 2 2 2 4 3
6 2 2 2 4 4
7 2 2 2 5 4
8 2 2 3 5 5
9 2 2 3 6 5
10 2 2 4 6 6
11 3 2 4 7 6
12 3 3 4 7 7
13 3 3 5 8 7
14 3 3 5 8 8
15 3 3 5 9 8
16 3 4 6 9 9

You can see on the chart that being 4-4 in Week 8 is the equivalent of playing a preseason game. As your wins outnumber your losses, though, COM players get significant boosts.

Most stats max out at 100. For example, COM QBs won’t go over 100 Pass Control no matter how many wins you collect.

However, there is no cap on Max Speed. If you were to play against the LA Raiders with a 16-0 record, Bo Jackson’s already insane 88 MS will jump 4 notches up to 113. Good luck catching him.

Bo Jackson with No Com Juice and Bo Jackson with max Com Juice

Aside from speed and skill, TSB uses the win-loss differential–a.k.a. Juice–to increase COM’s smarts.

A number of player behaviors are governed by Juice. The simplest example is how DBs cover WRs. If your juice is below 8–say you’re 10-4–DBs will mostly just move to a set spot on the field and stop. Once your Juice score reaches 8, however (let’s say you improve to 12-4), COM DBs will man cover WRs 50% of the time.

Side by Side Comparison of how TSB Juices DBs

Nearly every COM behavior is governed by juice. Some behaviors change as low as +2 and some remain unchanged until you hit +12. With this in mind, the smarter play is to just squeak into the playoffs. Your playoff opponents will be much slower and dumber if you’re 9-7 than if you’re 14-2. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the more you lose, the easier TSB gets. It all boils down to Juice.


[1] Except for Battletoads, which is hard as balls from start to finish.


Keith Good

Keith Good is a future Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and 8-bit game geek. A perpetual optimist, he convinces himself every September that this could finally be the Cleveland Browns' year. He was once told to eff off by one of the Tecmo Browns. You can check out his other work at www.keithisgood.com and follow him on twitter @keithisgood.

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