MIAMI -- For video junkies, that thing last Sunday was just a warm-up. The real Super Bowl game -- one they are hounding stores to obtain -- will begin soon in their living rooms.
A video football contest that allows players to select real NFL teams and players and to pit their coaching prowess against the computer or each other is making its way to store shelves this week. The initial shipment of Tecmo Super Bowl sold out in a flash late last year. Demand has been tremendous since.
Video junkies say it's the hottest thing on the market and one of the quickest sellers in years.
"It's the most realistic to a real game, as far as a sporting game goes," said Andy Needel of West Palm Beach, Fla., who got a copy of the game last week after being on a waiting list at his local computer software store. He plays an hour a day.
Officials at Tecmo, the company that markets the game, were surprised by its success. They didn't think a $54.99 cartridge -- the most expensive offered for the Nintendo eight-bit system and incompatible with the new Superintendo 16-bit system -- would be so popular during the economic recession.
But the first shipment of games, distributed Nov. 29, was snapped up in three weeks. Since then, Tecmo has been waiting for the Nintendo factory in Japan to produce enough games to meet demand.
"There's nothing unusual with the rate of production," said Dimitri Criona, Tecmo sales and marketing director. "It's just that the demand for this product is so heavy."
Indeed. Last Friday afternoon, a Toys R Us store in Miami received 48 cartridges. They were all gone Tuesday morning.
The game is widely recognized as one of the most advanced sports entries in the growing videogame industry. It uses a generous computer memory to store information about football clubs and their stars, letting home players use their own strategies to coach electronic Dan Marinos and Jim Kellys. The cartridge knows who's good and bad, and governs the game