From 'Retro Bowl' to 'Retro Goal' - How New Star Games Returned to Their Roots

From ‘Retro Bowl’ to ‘Retro Goal’ – How New Star Games Returned to Their Roots

With these thoughts in mind, we got to ask New Star Games founder Simon Read a few questions about all things Retro Goal. We’ve covered a range of topics, including the video game inspiration behind the series, the challenges of bringing mobile gaming to Switch, and what else might be in store for the studio. Enjoy!

Nintendo Life: We had a great time with Retro Bowl on Switch. What made you want to switch to console in this game?

Simon Read, founder of New Star Games: Retro Bowl’s success on mobile came as a huge surprise, but one feature that many gamers requested was gamepad controls. console. Of course, the revered Tecmo Bowl on the NES was a huge inspiration for Retro Bowl, so it seemed only fair to aim for a Nintendo console.

As a UK company, how does it feel to return to this version of football after spending time invested in American variety with Retro Bowl? Was there anything you learned from Bowl that influenced the design of Goal in any way?

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

I’m constantly looking for old sports games to inspire me

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

Similar to Retro Bowl, and it goes back to my early New Star Soccer games, you only control the attacking phases of the game. Of course, defense is an important part of any sport, but it’s generally less fun to play . So the idea was to get through those defensive streaks as quickly as possible, relying on your team building and management skills to determine defensive outcomes.

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

I’m constantly on the lookout for old sports games to inspire me with and while the gameplay can still hold up today, it often lacks depth. So yes, for all of my games, I like to have simple and engaging gameplay, but with tactical and role-playing elements not usually associated with sports games.

retro lens
Image: New Star Games

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

I definitely prefer playing with Joy-Cons now and from the start it was clear that the physical controls enhanced the game – it was just about tweaking and iterating the feel. We also wanted to make sure the game could be played on NES controllers for Switch, so finding the best control scheme was a challenge, but those are the kinds of puzzles I enjoy in game design. You can also use touch screen controls.

Graphically, there were plenty of games from the 90s that impressed you with screenshots but turned out to play terribly!

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

One thing that stood out when playing with Joy-Cons was that the game action was too slow and needed to be sped up to feel more like an arcade football game. One thing we’ve done is include an option for people to choose their preferred game speed. Also, having multiple buttons allowed us to use individual buttons for low/high passes, advancing the ball, etc. The controls were certainly designed with the Switch in mind, it’s not just a quick and easy port from mobile.

You say the game is “inspired by the most beloved football games of the 16-bit era”, what games were you playing at that time and were there any titles in particular that you watched while developing Retro Goal?

One of my favorite soccer games (actually from the 8-bit era!) was Emlyn Hughes International Football. For the time, he had an incredible passing range that I wanted to find in Retro Goal. Graphically, there were plenty of 90s games that wowed you with screenshots but turned out to play terribly! However, games like Manchester United Europe and Kick Off 3: European Challenge at least inspired the art style.

Now that you’ve got three Switch ports under your belt, are there any more of your previous games that you’d like to see come to the console?

I don’t think any of our other existing games will come to Switch, but our future games certainly will. Next year should be very exciting.

Mobile version trailer

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Thanks to Simon for taking the time to tell us about Retro Goal. You will soon be able to grab the game on Switch.

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