retro bowl


Retro Bowl, a straightforward, compelling American football game created by the developers of the enormously successful "New Star" mobile series and inspired by '90s arcade classics, captured our attention earlier this year. While it's possible that New Star Soccer first caught our interest, Retro Bowl's Switch port solidified our admiration for the developer's arcade-inspired gameplay and obvious love of old-school video games.

Therefore, when we learned that the developers intended to release Retro Goal, a football (or "soccer," if you prefer) follow-up game, for Switch this month, right in time for the World Cup, we were quite excited. We were eager to see what New Star Games would do to make sure that the Switch version preserved all the nostalgic fun of the original while modernising things to work for its new console home because we had previously played the game in its original mobile form.

Game Boy Life: Retro Bowl on Switch was a lot of fun. What about that game inspired you to go from PC to console?

Simon Read, the creator of New Star Games: Retro Bowl's popularity on mobile devices came as a great surprise, however one feature that many users requested was gamepad controls. It seemed sense to consider a console release after adding Bluetooth controller compatibility. Retro Bowl was obviously heavily influenced by the venerable Tecmo Bowl on the NES, so using a Nintendo platform seemed appropriate.

How does it feel to return to this version of football as a British firm after spending time with the American version with Retro Bowl? Did Bowl teach you anything that influenced Goal's design in any way?

Absolutely. In Retro Bowl, we found a gameplay/team management balance that really worked. So the idea was to apply that to football from gridiron.

I'm always looking for inspiration in classic sporting games.

Retro Bowl's simplicity and use are possibly its greatest assets. What aspects of the beautiful game have you streamlined in Retro Goal?

You only take control of the attacking phases of the game, similar to Retro Bowl, and this dates back to my early New Star Soccer games. The aim was to get through those defensive phases as rapidly as possible, relying on your team building and management talents to determine defensive results. Defensive play is obviously an important component of any sport, but it is typically less enjoyable to play.

The strategies used by games like Retro Goal differ from those used by New Star Soccer. Do you believe that there could have been more strategy in 90s football arcade games? Why did you decide to combine those aspects into this one?

I'm often seeking for inspiration in classic sports games, and while the gameplay may still be enjoyable now, there is frequently a glaring lack of depth. Therefore, I do like easy, enjoyable gameplay for all of my games, as well as tactical and role-playing components that are not generally found in sports games.

Image for Retro Goal: New Star Games
Touchscreen controls are extensively used in the mobile version. What were the difficulties in getting this to Switch, and did the Joy-Cons work well with it?

It's evident that physical controls benefited the game from the start; it was just a matter of adjusting and perfecting the experience. I now much prefer to play with Joy-Cons. Finding the optimum control configuration was difficult because we also wanted to make sure that the game could be played on the NES controllers for the Switch, but these are the kinds of puzzles that I like to see in game design. Still available are touchscreen controls.

There were several games from the 1990s that looked amazing in images but had terrible gameplay!

Are there any more adjustments you would like to see made for the Switch besides the addition of Joy-Con support?

When using the Joy-Cons, one thing that stood out was that the gameplay motion needs to be sped up to feel more like an arcade football game. One change we made was to give players the option of selecting their preferred game pace. Additionally, having many buttons enabled us to use different ones for making low or high passes, kicking the ball forward, and other activities. The controls weren't just quickly and easily ported over from mobile; they were definitely created with the Switch in mind.

The game is "influenced by the most popular football games of the 16-bit period," as you state. What games did you play during this time, and did you consider any particular games when creating Retro Goal?

Emlyn Hughes International Soccer, which dates back to the 8-bit period, is one of my favourite football games. I wanted to recreate that passing variety in Retro Goal because it had a remarkable range for its time. There were several games from the 1990s that looked amazing in images but had terrible gameplay! But at least the art style was inspired by titles like Man Utd Europe and Kick Off 3: European Challenge.

Are there any more titles from your past that you'd like to see ported to the Switch now that you've completed three ports?

My prediction is that none of our other titles, either current or prospective, will be released on Switch. The coming year ought to be quite exciting.

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