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Exploring Retro Bowl

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[Editor’s Note: Paul is on his annual August break from site (although he’s still writing his weekly Bulletin column and may pop up here on the blog occasionally). Deputy editor Phil Hecken is in charge from now through the end of the month.]

Good Tuesday morning, everyone.

August is usually a pretty “dead” month when it comes to uniform news, but these past two weeks have been anything but quiet. In fact, late Sunday night the Washington Huskies and early yesterday the Mississippi State Bulldogs both unveiled special one-off uniforms. Nebraska also unveiled throwback uniforms late yesterday afternoon — and I’ll have more on those later today.

But today, I want to go “off-uni” a bit, and for that we have a special guest: Michael Malinowski. If that name rings a bell, it’s because he goes by “Memal” on the boards and was my “5 & 1” guy for a couple years (until COVID took a toll on his health). But Memal is back today with a fun one. I’ll turn it over to him now.

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Retro Bowl
by Michael Malinowski

I read Paul’s most recent, “How I Got It” piece and was surprised by the amount of people who said, “I got into uniforms because of video game uniform customization” and was happy to find so many share the passion of customizing your in-game experience like I do. It also told me that a phone app I found recently would be enjoyed by others in this community, so I wanted to share it with you today.

One day on Twitter someone posted a screenshot of a new football game app called Retro Bowl, commenting that it had a retro-Tecmo Bowl look and feel to it. I learned the basics of football from playing Tecmo Super Bowl and Tecmo Super Bowl 3: Final Edition so my interest was piqued. I downloaded it from my app store and discovered a fun, fast paced game that differed in many ways from those games, but looked enough like them to make me forget it was produced by another company.

I was especially pleased to find the only in-game ads were ones to get you to pay a few dollars to upgrade to the premium version, which I ignored at first, but I played it so much the first month I got it that I decided to support the maker and bought in. One of the features of the upgraded version is the option to customize things in the game, a feature I’ve enjoyed in other sport franchises, so I was curious what all was available to customize. Here is a list of what you can alter(everything with the little pencil icon next to it can be edited):

Team names — since there’s no NFL license, all the teams bear city names

Conference and Division Names

Uniform colors

Player names for your team

Endzone colors

Adjust the weather settings for a team

There may only be a few uniform options to choose from to customize your team, but you can create four uniforms and, perhaps more importantly, if you’ve ever wanted to tweak the unis in a video game so that the Dallas team always has the same color pants and helmet you can do that!

If you wanted the Texans to have been brought into the league as the new Oilers with the same identity, you can do that! All you have to do is look up the Hex # for your team’s color from a site such as, input it in the area above the item you want to change, save and voila!

The game includes five save slots so you can have five different seasons going on and you can copy team information from one slot to the next, so if you’re happy with the way one league looks you can easily copy all the team details to another save slot and start a new season as another team. If you’re a fan of EAs NCAA Football franchise like me you can change all the teams in one league to college football teams. While you have to work in the structure of two conferences with four divisions that follow the NFL scheduling format, you can still create something that might approximate what the future of college football looks like when super conferences have taken over.

If this article has you itching to try this game out and really explore these features, I can’t recommend using enough. It allows you to upload or link a photo, select a pixel, and get the exact HEX code for that color! I was able to use it to find the appropriate colors to create a league composed of local and personally significant high school and small college teams that I have played more than any other season. I also have a season going with all the team names and uniforms of the NHL. Getting the uniforms to look just right was a great thrill!

Is this process a little tedious and time consuming? Sure.

I created spreadsheets to help me organize divisions and have a central place to save certain hex codes so I didn’t have to look each one up. But if this is the sort of thing you like to do, the end result will be well worth the effort you put in!

• • • • •

Thanks, Memal! I’m not a gamer, and I don’t think I’ve even played a video game since the original Donkey Kong was introduced, but I get the allure. As a teenager, I spent hours playing Intellivision (anyone remember that?) baseball with all my buddies. So much time, in fact, it got to the point where I couldn’t be defeated. But that’s a long time ago. Hopefully there are several of our readers out there who will play Retro Bowl, and in no small part thanks to your writeup!


ITEM! Picking the Best ‘Field of Dreams’ Throwbacks

Paul here. In the wake of last Thursday’s MLB Field of Dreams game, I’ve picked the best FOD throwback for each National League team (I’ll do the American League next week). This wasn’t just a matter of picking any old throwback uni — I specifically tried to pick designs that seem FOD-appropriate, which turned out to be a really fun exercise.

My Premium Subscribers can access the article here. If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do that here (you’ll need a Facebook account in order to pay). Don’t have or want a Facebook account? Email me for workaround info. Thanks!

Speaking of Bulletin: My annual Uni Watch NFL Season Preview will be published there in a few weeks (my projected date is Sept. 6), with the NHL and NBA Season Previews to follow in October. Lots of good stuff in the hopper!


Uni Tweet of the Day

Here’s some better looks at the Mississippi State Dowsing/Bell Alternate


And finally...

… that’s it for the morning section of Uni Watch. Thanks again to Memal for that cool look at Retro Bowl!

Lots more content to come today, including — but not limited to — Collector’s Corner and a look at the new Nebraska throwbacks, but that won’t be all, so be sure to keep checking back!

Here’s a link to today’s Ticker.

Everyone have a good morning, and I’ll be back with more later!



Comments (16)

    I’ve been playing Retro Bowl since it first launched, I made a league made up of various teams that no longer exist. Philadelphia is the Bell, Orlando is the Thunder and etc. It’s a ton of fun looking up the teams uniforms to get the home and away as exact as possible for an 8bit game and then messing around to get their Alt and Rush uni’s to what you would think they could be.

    I love retro bowl and would always spend way more time tinkering with the uniforms than playing the actual game lol (another benefit is the sweet 8-bit theme song that plays when you are in the home screens and customizing but not during actual gameplay). It felt cathartic to get rid of all the pointless color rash fourth alts (e.g. jets’ and eagles’ black unis) and replace with tons of throwbacks and college unis (I chose to completely replace baltimore with Maryland since their purple was indistinguishable from the black anyway and Maryland allowed for some fun combo ideas). Having this imagecolorpicker thing is great and I’m excited to get back into the game now! Very cool to have a lede that feels like it came straight from my brain as I’ve literally never talked about the game (or the extensive amount I focus on restructuring the unis) with anyone before.

    I forgot to mention, the other thing that is fun is being able to test out ideas for “concepts” with the extra fourth uni. For example, I’ve tried out a vikings white helmet, a jags gold helmet, eliminated silver from the panthers’ set entirely in favor of white, blue, and black helmet sets, and even given the raiders (who I returned to oakland) a fun A’s themed green and gold set. Obviously, most of them probably wouldn’t work in real life, but for someone without the capacity/time to create true “concepts” on my own, it’s a fun and easy way to visualize some of the ideas I’ve had about “what I would do if I were the uniform commissioner.”

    Oh, never heard of retro bowl, looking forward to trying it out. Of course love the team customization feature.

    There’s a Google Chrome extension called color picker that lets you click on a website anywhere to find the hex color code as well.

    Retro Bowl is one of my favorite mobile games. Small, not upselly, and the customization is great.

    Retro Bowl is disturbingly addictive, not only for the uniforms, but also for the game play. Not being a gamer myself, I play on the most absurdly easy level possible (I want relaxation, not another career).

    Boy isn’t that the truth. When my roommate got covid last summer he played like 35 seasons in two weeks

    Memal – great article today. Now I have to find Retro Bowl, and enough free time to customize my own league. Neat idea and well done.

    The RSS feed for Uni Watch posts seems to be broken. I’m only getting Ticker posts, which is a separate feed.

    Good thing I clicked on the site today and saw the Retro Bowl posts — it’s easily one of my favorite games. I even have a Retro Bowl t-shirt that I wear from time to time (alas, you can’t set the hex color codes on that).

    I love Retro Bowl – I wish there was a way to share these team edits. It’s a lot of work. The Google docs are a good idea. I keep requesting they add a sharing feature.

    Also reminds me of 2000-era Madden on PC where I reskinned all the teams with FFL teams and took screenshot “highlights” for the weekly newsletter (sent by fax!)

    I have been playing in Retro Bowl LEAGUES for over two years! One of the largest is the RBCDL (Retro Bowl College Dynasty League). You can check them out here: link

    There’s leagues of NFL teams, ones that include CFL, FCS, College D2/D3, High School, NHL, MLB, etc. with variations of settings to make the experience different. If you’re into the logo designs, repping your teams, and competitive play, find a league that fits your style and enjoy! The RB community has been a second family and is more than welcoming to any newcomers!

    I got on Retro Bowl two years ago when I got covid the first time. Since I’ve played over 140 seasons. Even decided to run the gambit by creating an NCAA field.

    For anyone looking for an added challenge to Retro Bowl, there’s an online league on reddit called RCAA. Look us up! It’s open to all NCAA teams between Division 1 and 3 (whether the school offers football or not), all games are played on extreme, and you compete based on point differential. We also have two divisions with promotion and relegation. Each “season” runs for two weeks, which is plenty of time to get your games finished. We also play rivalry games, host our own bowl games, have a league chat that is always active, and crown a national champion. It’s a great community.

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