Back Street Soccer - A gritty, football-based homage to gaming's golden age
Forget the well-maintained and luscious grass of a traditional football pitch; Back Street Football takes the sport to the streets, shortening the pitch and in turn intensifying the action to a degree of ten or more in this quick-fire interpretation of football with a retro aesthetic.
You’d Sell the Golden Age for Cash, Wouldn’t You.
It’s been a hell of a long time since we’ve been able to clearly pick out the pixels on the screens of our electronic devices, hasn’t it? Today’s massive screen resolutions make for some incredibly fine viewing of videos and games; in fact, I don’t think I’ve see a pixel on a mobile phone since about 2009. If you were to sit anyone under the age of say 21 down in front of the legendary MSDOS masterpiece that is Duke Nukem 3D, the likely reaction would be of disgust and alarm at how grainy and incredibly pixelated the graphics were. Contrary to the opinion of those that don’t know true childhood entertainment, I see the low resolutions of old-school PC and console games as a reminder of glorious times past where there were no save points to act as a safety net: if Mario died, then he was really dead and you had to start from the very beginning. The glorious pixelated style of Back Street Soccer not only reminds me of this golden age of gaming, it actually takes me back there and has the potential to do the same for you (depending on your age and memory, of course).
Balls, Players, and Giant Tyres
Unlike Sports Heads Football, Back Street Footballs format is more loyal to the traditional football format. The action is played from the classic third-person perspective, following the action up and down the makeshift pitches that are lined with swathes of unusual and shifty-looking people and more monster truck tyres than you are ever likely to see lining a football pitch in real life. The aim is simply to pick the team you wish to play with and go up against opposing teams in true arcade style with relatively short matches, a fairly small pitch, and a load of players scrambling around on screen for possession of the ball looking for that one chance to bosh in a belter. You gain control of whichever player is closest to the ball at the time and must control their movement with the directional arrows; the X button is to shoot, and the C button lets you pass between players. It’s all standard stuff in every way but its design.
Looks like Old, Feels like Gold
Aside from its rapid pace, the game’s true distinguishing factor is its throwback look which is heavily pixelated and designed to look like the 8-bit or 16-bit SNES or Sega Mega Drive games. Even the GUI of the gameplay and menus cry out “old school”, with the lack of mouse control (keys are king), the display of the score numbers on the screen and even the intermittent flashing of how may credits you have left appearing on the screen making for the flooding back of warm memories spent clasping wired controllers (remember them?) and blowing on a cartridge to make it work. The game’s aesthetic is truly wonderful and reflects very accurately the look of games that I grew up on. Unfortunately, the game falls down a little in its gameplay because of the player selection, or indeed lack of it; the game flicks very quickly and automatically between players around the ball when it isn’t in your possession, making it very difficult to tell which player you are currently in control of. This is more down to the small size of the game window and the fast pace of the game, but it is upsetting nonetheless. This minor issue is the only setback in this otherwise pleasant piece of retro football brilliance.