"It’s just the way we make games here": New Star Games discuss their inspiration behind the art style and more on Retro Goal
Last month, I played and reviewed a unique take on arcade soccer called Retro Goal. The game was developed by the BAFTA-winning studio New Star Games, masterminds behind hit games like Retro Bowl and New Star Soccer. Retro Goal's intuitiveness, fun gameplay, and excellent presentation surprised me. It kept me immersed for several hours.
Since reviewing the game on the Nintendo Switch, I've been curious to learn the design philosophy and inspiration of the team at New Star Games for Retro Goal. I connected with New Star Games' Community Manager, Mark Baldwin, to discuss Retro Goal's art style, gameplay, and more. He provided exclusive insight into the game's design process, art style, soundtrack, and forthcoming updates.
Retro Goal is a unique arcade game destined for success
Q. What was the inspiration behind creating Retro Goal?
Mark: We keep returning to football video games, trying different things each time. We feel like we've learned a lot from our experiences with New Star Soccer and New Star Manager, and with the success of Retro Bowl, we thought it was time to go for a proper homage to 90's football games that we all grew up playing.
Q. Did your previous project, Retro Bowl for the Nintendo Switch, influence Retro Goal?
Mark: There are many influences. In the past, Simon Read (founder) stated that games like Emlyn Hughes International Soccer, in terms of gameplay, were a massive influence. But graphically, more games like Man Utd Europe and Kick Off 3 got us going. The overall design, of course, was inspired by Retro Bowl. We learned a lot from developing the game and have carried much of that learning to this project, especially in handling the different control methods the Switch offers.
Q. In the age of photorealistic graphics and over-the-top gameplay mechanics in most modern video games, including the annual sports titles, what was the inspiration or reason for you choosing the "retro" art style?
Mark: It's just the way we like to make games. If you look at all our titles, they have simple, engaging gameplay but with tactical and role-playing elements not typically associated with sports games. When looking for inspiration in older games, it's clear that these still hold up in gameplay. There seems to be a genuine interest in Retro themed games from the public. Perhaps gamers are tired of the style over substance approach to sports games.
Q. I found the soundtrack of Retro Goal as one of the game's highlight features. How did you and your team come up with the soundtrack?
Mark: We can't take credit for the soundtrack. The music is by City Guys and is licensed through the Pterodactyl squad. It was pre-existing music that City Guys had composed as an imaginary soundtrack to an imaginary soccer-themed platform game from the 90s. We found that it just seemed to fit well with our game, and we loved it.
Q. Another remarkable aspect of your game was the humor, whether it be the naming of the clubs/teams or the players themselves. How did you guys come up with that?
Mark: Humor is tricky to get right, with incredibly quirky British humor, so it was important not to lay it on too thick and go for amusing rather than proper laugh-out-loud jokes. But to be honest, many funny things come about through random lists. So, for example, each player gets a random first and last name along with a random hobby and trait. Sometimes these line up amusingly.
Q. Retro Bowl is playable on PC via Poki. Any chance we'll be able to play the game on PC and other console platforms apart from Switch, i.e., PlayStation or Xbox?
Mark: At the moment, it's too early to say. But we would love for our games to reach a wider audience.
Q. Couch co-op or offline co-op was one of the biggest appeals for me to play EA Sports' FIFA games back in the day. I understand Retro Goal is a project on a much, much smaller scale, but I'd have liked to see a co-op mode in the game. Do any plans guys have for a co-op add-on in the future?
Mark: We get asked about this a lot, but we don't have plans for a co-op mode in the game. We want to focus on making this game a great single-player experience.
Q. Are there any plans for DLCs or post-launch updates to the game on the Nintendo Switch?
Mark: Yes, we have lots of plans for Retro Goal. We will soon have a "Global Championship" mode for the Switch. This free update features 32 national teams competing in group and knockout stages and should be available before the World Cup ends. We are also planning more updates for Q1 next year, and we will be revealing those plans in the new year.
Q. If you could go back in time, right before the game's release, what is that one thing you'd like to change in Retro Goal?
Mark: In an ideal world, we would have had the "Global Championship" mode in the game for launch, but we are delighted with how the game has turned out and how it's been received by the press and players alike.
Retro Goal is one of the most unique soccer titles I've played. From the old-school art style that reminded me a lot of the soccer titles on NES to the intuitiveness of the game, making it a perfect go-to soccer game for a casual fan of the sport like me, the game impressed me with its overall quality. All Switch players should explore this title, especially those with interest in sports titles.