With these thoughts in mind, we were able to ask New Star Games founder Simon Read a few questions about everything Retro Goal. We covered a number of topics, including the video game inspiration behind the series, the challenges of bringing a mobile game to the Switch, and what might still be in store for the studio. Have a good time!
Nintendo Life: We had a lot of fun 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 many gamers asked for was the gamepad controls. After implementing Bluetooth controller support, it made sense to look to a console version. Obviously, the revered Tecmo Bowl on NES was a huge inspiration for Retro Bowl, so it felt right to target a Nintendo console.
As a British company, how does it feel to return to this version of football after spending time invested in American variety with Retro Bowl? Is there anything you learned from Bowl that influenced Goal’s design 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 it from the grill to the football.
I am constantly looking for inspiration from old sports games
Retro Bowl’s simplicity and accessibility is perhaps its biggest selling point. How did you simplify the beautiful game in Retro Goal?
Similar to Retro Bowl, and this goes back to my earliest New Star Soccer games, you just take control of the attack 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 skip these defensive sequences as quickly as possible, relying on your team building and management skills to determine defensive outcomes.
There’s a breakthrough in tactics from New Star Soccer to the likes of Retro Goal. Do you think arcade-style soccer games could have been used with more tactics in the 90s? What prompted you to overlap those elements here?
I am constantly looking for inspiration from old sports games, 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 simple and addictive gameplay but with tactical and role-playing elements not typically associated with sports games.
The mobile version makes excellent use of touchscreen controls. What were the challenges in bringing this to the Switch, and did the Joy-Cons come in handy in their addition?
I definitely prefer playing Joy-Cons now and from the start it was clear that the physical controls improved the game – it was just about tweaking and repeating the feel. We also wanted to make sure the game could be played on NES controllers for Switch, so figuring out the best control scheme was a challenge, but these are the kinds of puzzles I like about the game’s design. However, you can also use the touchscreen controls.
Graphically there were many games from the 90s that wowed you with screenshots but turned out to be terribly playable!
Other than adding Joy-Con support, are there any other changes you wanted to make for the Switch?
One thing that stood out when playing Joy-Cons was that the gameplay was too slow and had to be accelerated to feel more like an arcade football game. One thing we have done is include an option for people to choose their preferred game speed. Also, having more buttons allowed us to use single buttons for low / high passes, throw the ball forward and so on. The controls have definitely been designed with the Switch in mind, it’s not just a quick and easy mobile port over.
You say the game is “inspired by the most beloved soccer games of the 16-bit era”, what games were you playing in this era and were there any particular titles that you looked at while developing Retro Goal?
One of my favorite football games (actually from the 8-bit era!). Emlyn Hughes International Soccer. For the time, he had an incredible range of passes that I wanted to win back in Retro Goal. Graphically there were many games from the 90s that wowed you with screenshots but turned out to be terribly playable! Still, you play like Man Utd Europe and Kick Off 3: European Challenge provided inspiration for at least the art style.
Now that you have three Switch ports under your belt, are there any other previous games of yours that you would like to see coming 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.
This interview has been slightly edited for clarity.
Thanks to Simon for taking the time to tell us about Retro Goal. Soon you will be able to retire the game on Switch.