Where Have All The Arcade Sports Games Gone?

A couple of months ago I repurchased a GameCube, a console that I previously had access to as a child/young teen and loved playing. Strangely even though I hadn’t touched the system for over 10 years, my mum had still stored away some of my old GameCube games (mum you are a legend!). Although most of the games she had held on to were sadly not very good, I found one game amongst the others that I had a lot of fun with many years ago. The game is question is Midway Games’ arcade soccer game, RedCard (known as RedCard 20-03 outside of Europe).

For those who don’t know, RedCard is a crazy representation of the beautiful game. The game allows players to punch, head-butt, and dropkick opponents, as well as the referee! Gamers can also perform Matrix like slow-mo special moves, which can see the in-game soccer player scoring goals via performing cartwheels and back-flips. It’s a mad experience, but an extremely fun one to play.

My Great Capture Screenshot 2015-02-17 16-36-11

I love soccer, I suppose being English has something to do with that, but in all honestly I’m not really into FIFA or PES any more. I haven’t bought a simulation soccer game for 2 years, and I don’t really intend on buying one any time in the future. It’s a shame that there currently doesn’t exist an alternative for gamers who want to play a more arcadey version of their favourite sport.

Whilst there now only exist two soccer games on the market, both of which aim for hyper realism, going back 5-10 years ago gamers had much more choice. Actua Soccer, This is Football, World Tour Soccer, FIFA Street, Pure Football and Sega Soccer Slam are just some of the soccer games that I can think of that were arcade alternatives. Even PES and FIFA used to contain silly elements within them. During PES’ glory days on the PS2, players were able to purchase ostriches and raptors from the in-game store, which players could then use to ride on during matches, FIFA also once featured stupid extras such as “big head mode.”

Currently there only seems to be “serious” sports games available. It’s not just soccer that is affected, games such as NFL Street and NBA Jam are no more. The sad thing is that as arcade style sports games are generally a lot more accessible than their simulation cousins, a lot of people who may want to try to get into a new sport may be put off from buying a realistic game.

My Great Capture Screenshot 2015-02-18 16-28-48

I had a lot more fun playing going back and playing RedCard than I did playing my brother’s copy of FIFA 15.

Let me give you an example from my own experience. I know nothing about NFL, I have probably only watched a couple of hours of the sport in my entire life. A couple of years ago I decided to download a NFL demo on the Xbox Live store, just because I fancied playing something a bit different. After starting the game up, I came to the realisation that I was way out of my depth. Every couple of minutes I was confronted with menus asking me to change tactics, I didn’t know what was going on and I had no idea what I was doing. After half hour or so, I quit the demo and deleted it from my hard drive.

Have I ever gone back to play another NFL game since? Short answer: No.

Long answer: If there was an arcade version of the sport available then I probably would. Despite knowing nothing about the sport, the idea of grabbing a ball and running past people who are launching themselves at me does sounds exciting, and it seems like it would be something that would be pretty fun in videogame form. Unfortunately I feel as though I don’t know enough about the sport, or to be completely honest, care about it enough, to warrant buying a simulation NFL game.

So why would I want to a play a game based on a sport that I don’t particularly care about, you ask? Well, the answer it that videogames can often make us enjoy things that in the real world we have little or no interest in. I’m not a fan of motor sport at all, I find it boring to watch and I know practically zero information about cars. Yet, I love playing arcade racing games. Although the idea of watching Formula One on TV and staring at cars going round in a circle bores me to tears, the idea of jumping in fast cars and zooming past someone on the screen myself, is an extremely exciting prospect. Like I said, although I may not be a fan of NFL, I still think a game in which I could jump into straight away and tackle some guys and score a touchdown could be very fun to play.

Sadly, I feel that sports games are all too serious nowadays. I know professional sport is a serious and lucrative business, but it’s also a fun one as well, and somewhere along the line video game developers seem to have forgotten that. I’m not at all suggesting that all simulation sports games are tedious, there are some that I still enjoy playing, but it would be nice sometimes to have an arcade alternative available.


  1. Hatm0nster says:

    I’ve found myself more interested in the arcade or goofy representations of different sports in video games as well. I also am bored to death by realistic versions of sports games.

    Case and point: Racing games. You will NEVER get me to play a racing sim like Gran Turismo or Forza. It’s all precision, precise timing, and oh so shiny cars that I couldn’t care less about. Put a game like Burnout in front of me though…well I don’t think you’ll get me away from it for awhile. Crazy things like seeing how much damage I can cause with one crash, bashing my competition out of the way in a race, doing said activities with a fire engine or food truck? How could I possibly say no?!

    Same with off-road games. Give me the actual experience? Boring. Give me an old western ghost town to ride around in as an alien? YES PLEASE!

    Madden: *snore*. Super DodgeBall: WOO!

    Realistic games are great for those who enjoy them, but I feel that completely eclipsing the goofy counterparts in favor of the realistic games is a waste of the sport’s video game potential.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. hacknslash says:

    The problem is that once a developer makes a successful simulation sports game, between the release date of the next instalment they can only really try to improve the graphics and update the rosters (and perhaps tweak the gameplay a bit), as obviously an individual sport doesn’t really change significantly every 12 months, which leads to boredom setting in.

    I’m with you when it comes to simulation racing games, it doesn’t take me long to get fed up with Forza/Gran Turismo, but give me Burnout or PGR and I’ll have a great time. Speaking of Burnout, I really hope we see a new game in the series soon!

    “Give me an old western ghost town to ride around in as an alien? YES PLEASE!”- Is this a game, because if not it needs to be made!!


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