Retro Review : Soccer Brawl – Neo Geo Sports Action

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No one did arcade games like SNK with the Neo Geo. Everything with them was on a completely different level than the rest of the industry, with games that were both intense and fun. Sports games on the Neo Geo often took sports that didn’t seem like they would action packed and made it work, like with Neo Turf Masters. So imagine what they could do with Soccer/Football, a game known for its passionate fans.

Soccer Brawl was like an early predecessor to later games like Sega’s Soccer Slam and Super Mario Strikers/Mario Smash Football. It was less of a sports game, rather than an action game that used sports as basis for the action. The game is set in the future with soccer that is played with bionic people or cyborgs as the players. And with that description, how can this not be awesome?

Soccer Brawl is is a two-player game where your team is representing one of eight countries,. These countries are Germany, Japan, Brazil, The United States, Italy, Spain, England and South Korea. After selecting a team, you will then select one of two stadiums which will be a dome or an open field. Then you begin with a 5-on-5 match and the action gets intense. Forget all the rules for the game, because in this, there are no fouls and anything goes. This makes the game much closer to an intense brawler than you would expect.

Many cite Midway’s arcade sports games as being the games that defined what an arcade style sports game should be. Those people should look instead to SNK and games like this, because Soccer Brawl makes NBA Jam look tame in comparison. SNK threw out any pretense of realism and made it all about fun and action. This is a game that sadly hasn’t received the attention it deserves. Neo Turf Masters is well known ( deservedly so) and I cannot understand why Soccer Brawl doesn’t also get as much attention. Every modern sports game that uses arcade style action to differentiate itself ends up owing something to this game. I urge you all to check it out as it has just been released via Arcade Archives on modern systems. This is a damn good game, and one that I would love to see SNK revisit in the future.  It is too good to just be left in the past.

 

 

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