Lunchtime Discussion: What Happened to Arcade Football Games?

It’s been a long time since I’ve played a football game that I really liked. In fact, the last time that happened, it was a PS2 game. Granted I was playing that PS2 game through my at-the-time backwards compatible PS3, but it was still a PS2 game.

That game was called Red Card, and the majority of you have probably never heard of it. As far as arcade-y football games go, you did not get any more arcade-y than Red Card. It combined sound football mechanics with boost bars that, when used, allowed you to run at twice the normal speed or, awesomely, take super-hard shots in Matrix-style circling cameras and slo-mo. The ball left a trail of fire in the air behind it. A few times the ball hit the goalie who was then rocketed backwards into the goal with the ball, making for at least 5 minutes of game-paused laughter the first time it happened. Oh, and you could play as and against a team of dolphins.

It sounds a little gimmicky, I’ll admit, but it was so much fun I honestly played it more than I did my PS3 games at the time (which consisted of the likes of Resistance, Motorstorm, and other earlier stuff). The footie game I most enjoyed before that was Fifa 2000, on the PSone, which ate up many, many hours of childhood as I scored goal after goal against my Dad. He wasn’t letting me win, he just sucked (and still does).

Now don’t get me wrong, I liked Fifa 09, and I liked the demo for Fifa 10 (which I won’t buy, I didn’t even buy 2009), but they don’t come close to the amount of fun I had with Red Card, or Fifa 2000. In fact, I rapidly got bored of Fifa 09 and moved on to other things. The reason? Realism.

Realism has it’s place. Modern Warfare has a reasonable amount of realism for a game in which hiding behind a rock has healing properties, whilst Operation Flashpoint 2 was so realistic it bored me until I had to bang my head against a wall just so there was something happening. Hell, Fifa 09/10 do realism very well too, but I miss arcade-y football. I played Fifa 09 a lot with friends, but I never had anywhere near as many memorable moments as I did in Red Card or Fifa 2000.

Last year, it actually got to the point where I prefered PES’ offering above Fifa, for the first time in the history of the world – and ironically on a year in which Fifa had reportedly overtaken PES. PES of last year felt arcadier (new word), whilst Fifa was realism in football game form.

Please, somebody, make a high-profile arcade football game. I don’t want realism any more, I miss ridiculous end-of-match scores from the Fifa games on PSone, and Trinity-kicking footballs in Red Card. Actually, screw other games, just make a next-gen sequel to Red Card.