SWOS, Striker, Manchester United Football, Microprose Soccer – to name a few. We had choice back in the days of the Sinclair and Commodore but these days it’s the usual lumbering efforts of Fifa and Pro Evo. Fun for a while but they lack the white knuckle ride of goals flying in from all angles like yesteryear.
However there are a small band of rebels trying to bring the classic games to a whole new generation! Kick Off Revival tried gallantly to re-produce the good old days but with mixed results – sadly Dino Dini was seemingly left to dry by his developers who insisted on releasing a painfully unfinished game to capitalise on the European Championships. Fingers crossed he embraces feedback and different ideas to capitalise on the goodwill and opportunity of the Kick Off name.
But flying in to the top corner with no heirs or graces is Active Soccer 2 DX. This a love letter, to the games of yesteryear no doubt about it and dare I say it, a perfect fusion of Kick Off 2 and Sensible Soccer.
The game has been out on other platforms for some time – and it shows. We’ll get onto it’s many features shortly but the main thing for the success of any game is it’s playability and this has it in abundance. Whilst modern games are scripted to some degree, the beauty of this game is you engineer opportunities rather than be given a ‘free goal’ card by the CPU.
Want to play Route 1? You can. Want to play a delicate passing game – and mean it – all from the moment you start playing? You can. Want the control of dribbling but always have the doubt you’ll get tackled? Well, you get the idea!
The control method is devilishly simple. Digital stick for movement and two buttons, one for passing and one for shooting. Tap the pass button and point next to a player and it goes to them, hold it down for longer and you pass it fast up field. Without the ball you can tackle players 50/50 or slide over the pitch, risking a sending off in the process. It has all the core elements of real football and is a delight to enact.
Feature wise there’s 800 Teams, 21,000 players, Competition Designer, Team Editor, Different weather conditions, Camera angles, replays from a variety of angles that are saved at the click of a button and to keep the nostalgia to a high, a soundtrack by Chris Huelsbeck of R-Type & Turrican 2 fame. Sure, the menu system could do with a little gloss but gameplay wise, this is truly the finished article.
Sadly the game has had zero budget for publicity and so has struggled somewhat to gain any traction in popularity but with a dearth of classic footy games to combat the monotonous next gen titles, it shouldn’t be long before Active Soccer 2 DX and others rise to the top.
With football becoming more sterile and robotic like in real life, retro games more than ever remind us of a time when the beautiful game and indeed sports games in general were much more fun and so we at Press Fire to Play would like to say thank you to everyone keeping the retro gaming flag flying high.
Now if only one of these games would be bold enough to implement tournaments, rankings and a lobby within the game!
Check out some of my highlights by going to our YouTube page below: