Thursday, January 1, 2009

Virtua Striker (coin-op, 1994)

Bzzzt, happy new year! I thought I'd do another update now that I'm sort of reinvigorated. OK, so.. coin-ops! Were you a fan? I was. Arcade games had a rather bad reputation when I was a kid, in the sense that it was the "bad boys" that went there and spent their time (and money) instead of doing their homework. That only enhanced their appeal as far as I'm concerned.

Of course an arcade game is different in it's philosophy than a home-computer game. Since it relies on the player keeping paying in order to continue playing, the game has to be instantly appealing and not too deep in it's gameplay mechanics.

I only started going in the arcades from high-school onwards, and I do admit on missing a few good classes in lyceum. Coin-ops didn't help in trying to get to university either. -) Sega's Virtua Striker is one of the games I've wasted *shitloads* of money in. It was that good. A two-player game was a must, and usually resulted in a shouting match. Emulating it these days on my PC, I find that it's just as playable as it ever was. Why is that? Simply put.. simplicity!!

No modern-day FIFA or Pro-Evolution Soccer overload of complex controls. Instead you just control the movement and get two different types of passing (high pass and low pass) whose power depends on how hard (long) you push the button, a button for shooting, and two different types of tackling. Yet the game feels quite realistic thanks to the spiffy 3D-graphics, as opposed to the popular overhead footie arcade games of the early 90's like Kick-Off 2 and Sensible Soccer.

The game sort of helps you out with it's mechanics, in the sense that when passing the ball, it automatically heads towards the direction of the next free player. But excuse me, isn't that what would happen as well if you were playing in a real football match? It all has to do with not making the experience overly complicated. It works. Virtua Striker 2 was more complicated and somehow lost the appeal.

I still play this game every now and then, and I invite old pals to relive the erstwhile Virtua Striker feud - with a beer or three. It's fun!!


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