From "Retro Bowl" to "Retro Goal" - how new star games returned to their grassroots

From “Retro Bowl” to “Retro Goal” – how new star games returned to their grassroots

With these thoughts in mind, we were able to ask New Star Games founder Simon Read a few questions about all things Retro Goal. We covered a range of topics, including the video game inspiration behind the series, the challenges of bringing a mobile game to the Switch, and what’s still to come for the studio. Enjoy!

Nintendo Life: We had a great time with Retro Bowl on Switch. What was it about that game that made you want to make the leap to console?

Simon Read, founder of new Star Games: The success of Retro Bowl on mobile was a big surprise, but one feature that many players asked for was controls on the gamepad. After implementing support for Bluetooth controllers, it made sense to look at a console release. Of course, the revered Tecmo Bowl on the NES was a big inspiration for the Retro Bowl so it felt right to target a Nintendo console.

Being a British company, how does it feel to come back to this version of football after spending time on the American version with the Retro Bowl? Was there anything you learned from the Bowl that informed Goal’s design in any way?

Absolutely. We found a balance between play and team management in Retro Bowl that really worked. So the plan was to translate it from gridiron to football.

I’m constantly looking to old sports games for inspiration

The simplicity and accessibility of Retro Bowl is perhaps its greatest strength. In what ways have you streamlined the beautiful gameplay of Retro Goal?

In a similar way to Retro Bowl, and this goes back to my early New Star Soccer games, you only take control of the attacking phase of the game. Of course, defense is a big part of any sport, but it’s generally less fun to play, so the idea was to jump through the defensive sequences as quickly as possible, relying on your team building and management skills to determine defensive outcomes.

There is a step up in tactics from New Star Soccer to the likes of Retro Goal. Do you think arcade-style soccer games could have done with more tactics in the 90s? What made you want to include these elements here?

I’m constantly looking to old sports games for inspiration and while the gameplay can still hold up today there is often a distinct lack of depth. So yes, for all my games I like to have a simple, engaging game but with tactical and RPG elements not usually associated with sports games.

Image: New Star Games

The mobile version makes heavy use of touchscreen controls. What were the challenges in bringing this to the Switch, and did the Joy-Cons prove beneficial in their addition?

I definitely prefer playing with the Joy-Cons now and it was clear from the start that physical controls improved the game – it was just a matter of tweaking and repeating the feel. We also wanted to make sure the game could be played on the NES controllers for the Switch, so figuring out the best control scheme was a challenge, but that’s the kind of puzzle I enjoy when it comes to game design. You can still use the touchscreen controls as well.

Graphically, there were many 90s games that surprised you with screenshots but turned out to play terribly!

Besides adding Joy-Con support, are there any other changes you were keen to make for the Switch?

One thing that stood out when playing with the Joy-Cons was that the gameplay was too slow and needed to be sped up to feel more like an arcade soccer game. One thing we have done is include an option for people to select their preferred game speed. With multiple buttons, we could also use individual buttons for low/high passes, hitting the ball forward and so on. The controls have really been designed with the Switch in mind, it’s not just a quick and easy port over from mobile.

You say the game is “inspired by the most beloved football games of the 16-bit era”, what games did you play during this era and were there any titles in particular that you looked at when developing Retro Goal?

One of my favorite football games (actually from the 8-bit era!) was Emlyn Hughes International Football. For its time, it had an incredible range of passes that I wanted to recapture in Retro Goal. Graphically, there were many 90s games that surprised you with screenshots but turned out to play terribly! Nevertheless, games that Man Utd Europe and Kick Off 3: European Challenge at least provided inspiration for the art style.

Now that you have three Switch ports under your belt, are there any other games from your past that you’d like to see come to the console?

I don’t think any of our other existing games will be coming to Switch but our future games definitely will. Next year will be very exciting.

The trailer for the mobile version

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Thanks to Simon for taking the time to talk to us about Retro Goal. You can get the game on Switch soon.

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