In 1991, the big red Neo Geo arcade machines offered up the option of a very new, very exciting game – Soccer Brawl – in which the Player controls a team of futuristic, cybernetically augmented soccer players against an opposing team from a different country.
It is the 21st Century, and modern sporting events have evolved. Team numbers have been reduced, in direct response to these new advancements in technology, allowing even the most common man to compete at nearly super-human levels.
From the flyer, we learn what the future holds for sporting events… Thankfully, it’s a little less like the dystopian future of “Terminator” and a little more like “Smash TV”:
“In the early 21st Century, all sports games are being washed over the wave of modernization. Football Leagues produced numerous dramatic scenes by the glorious star players, can not be the exception. It is now moving into a new dimension. Players are now required to wear reinforced protector suits and the number of players are cut down to 5 from 11, as the capability of movement has remarkably improved.
Each team has a star player who, with his special wavy ball, gives a feeling of terror to the enemy team to the excitement of the spectators. SOCCER BRAWL – it’s the dawn of a new sports history. Discover ultra techniques, enjoy high speed game in the tournament league mode. 1P vs 2P fighting mode.”
From the first view of the opening screens, you know what you’re going to get – action-packed game-play in the form of a fast paced sports game featuring some new rules possibly inspired by (the original) Rollerball. Armed with the “Hyper-Foot” and “Power-Arm”, Players are able to use special abilities to further their team’s need to win the game at all costs.
The Player selects whether to play either “League Mode” against the computer, or “Vs Mode” against another player, and then selects their team from one of eight available – USA, Germany, England, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Italy, and Korea – and then, the computer chooses it’s own team.
The Player then selects the field for the games from either the SNK Stadium in Osaka, Japan, which opened in 2050 A.D., or the Super Dome in San Francisco, USA, which opened in 2088 A.D. Each field has it’s own look and feel, with SNK Stadium having lush green turf and the Super Dome sporting a futuristic, metallic play field.
Before the game starts, the Player is provided some information regarding their talents and abilities. The game itself is very intuitive, with only two buttons being used for all controls.
Pressing Button 1 allows the team playing Offense to “Kick” with a quick tap and “Power Shoot” by holding the button down and then releasing it once your Power Meter has enough juice. For the team playing Defense, Button 1 allows moves like “Sliding Cut” and “Arm Punch” to stop the other team from scoring on your goal.
Button 2 allows the team playing Offense to “Pass” with a quick tap. For the team playing Defense, Button 2 allows a move called “Heading”, and if you hold Button 1 and 2 together, you can “Tackle” a player on the other team!
From the starting “Kick Off”, the Player is met with the digitized voice of the robotic referee – invisible in the action, which ramps up very quickly. It’s a welcome sight to not have a physical presence in-game, as there is just enough room for your small team on the screen with all of the action going on around you.
As you play, the action is fast and furious as you fight, pass and kick towards the opposing Team’s goal. Max out your Power Meter and use it to fire a “Power Shot” towards the opposing Team’s goal – or bank your shot off a wall for a sneak attack!
When either team scores a goal, the cheerleaders come out an give you some retro-futuristic eye-candy as you are shown your score on the digital scoreboard.
I’ll admit it; fourteen year-old me was excited when a video game attempted to show attractive girls on screen. Of course, adult me recognizes that we have definitely come a long way in how people are presented in video games today.
The presentation of the cheerleaders in Soccer Brawl is very tame in comparison, and happily, suitable for all audiences.
If you’re able to hold off the other team and score the most goals, you are presented with the screen declaring your win at the end of the first game – but we’re not done! You still have to beat each of the other teams, which gets progressively more difficult as the game goes on.
If you have the skills to win at Soccer Brawl, defeating each of the teams in succession, you will get to see the game’s ending, where you get a beautiful view of the arena from the nose-bleeds. As you get to read the names of the various crew members responsible for the production and coding of the game, the lights slowly dim on the play-field.
Soccer Brawl is definitely an underrated and overlooked gem – a fast-paced sports game that offers players a futuristic new perspective on your generic soccer fare, tossing in addictive combat elements and creating a unique experience.
If you’re ready to play Soccer Brawl, and pit your team of cybernetically upgraded humans against the other team, pop in a quarter, charge up your “Power Shot”, and prepare to take the field!
Special thanks to ohboymameisgood, from his reply on Reddit, for recommending “Soccer Brawl” for our Retro Rewind Friday. If you have a game that you would like to see Gameroom Designs review, Submit a game for Retro Review Friday!