Company: TOSE (distributed by Tonkin House)
Plataform: Super NES
Controller: Default controller of the console
Time passes by, and the videogame consoles are evolving, and it’s easier to implement features of the sports that previously was impossible due to technological issues.
In the case of rugby, the evolution of these games either in computers and/or consoles, it allowed to add more and more features to the controllers to easily handle more different situations in a rugby game.
The company TOSE tries in Japan a videogame for the Super Famicom console (Super NES in western countries), having at its disposal more buttons in the controller for trying new schemas of controlling the game.
First hand, this game is not an adaptation of one with the same name created for the NES console, which also was from other company. Consider that in games for the Super NES, the videogames had frequently the word “Super” in the title.
The game follows the guidelines of other games we have written about of the category with a horizontal view of the field, but you can appreciate now that the technological differences between gaming platforms. Starting with the closeup when one of the virtual rugbyers has the ball. Actually, of all the videogames of rugby we have written about so far, this one has the more detailed view of the players.
To some people, this can be a con, but to me it’s a pro, specially for the mini-field at the top right part of the screen where you can get an idea of where the action is happening at the field.
Also there is a view when the ball is kicked, either by the player or a kick-off due to scoring. This view is really useful to properly locate the action, and for some people (like me) it’s gonna be a common view in the game.
At kicking, either after scoring extra points or field goals, the videoplayer has a view with an interesting interface, with a wheel gauging the power of the kick when the button is pressed, but beware, it’s quite easy to do a kick with no power at all if you’re not careful.
Now, due to lacking the instruction manual, and even if I had one, I cannot understand japanese, so trying to learn just the basics, has been a task both funny and frustrating.
Let’s start with the pros: two of the four buttons at the Super NES controller are used to kick. One is a short kick, while the other one is used to long kicks, in this case appears the view of the field I mentioned before. The side buttons (also called triggers, we’ll refer to these buttons as triggers in the remainder of the entry) are used to win either the scrums, rucks or mauls, which is a notorious improvement over waggling the joystick one side to other.
For defense, with a button you try to tackle a rival virtual rugbyer, while with other you exchange between virtual defenders to the closest one to the ball. I did not find use to the other buttons, or the triggers while defending.
Now the cons: the main one, to me at least, is how difficult is to throw the ball to a teammate. With one button you select the “receiver”, and with the other do the passing. The problem here is that I never was able to get a consistent behaviour, so the ball consistently ended with the rival, or in the field (recovered later by the rival), and now, trying to get it back.
An already proved tactic of kicking, hoping that the rival get the ball, and then trying to get back the ball was the best way to advance. Specially because when using the triggers to win the scrums, and was quite easy to recover the ball. Of course, if the rival achieves a long advance, it appears the frustration I mentioned before.
At last, there is a referee, who made constant calls, which I did not see in previous videogames. In fact, I did not see before the call “stiff arm tackle” which became really useful to advance towards the goal.
The videogame provides many modes of playing a match. The simplest one is a match against the AI. There is also a contest between two human players. A mode of World Cup is available where the victories are stored and finally a text mode, which being in japanese, I have no idea how to play it.
The player can choose from traditional rugby national teams, and/or participants in the first World Cups of the sport. The differences not only are in the uniforms, also skills of the teams.
You can imagine my glorious achievement when in my first game I used Zimbabwe and face Australia in an overconfidence scenario. So the next one was inverting the teams, using Australia. Well, of course there was a difference, and it was the distance between scores as the AI also royally kicked my ass.
For beginners we recommend using some of the traditional powerhouses of the southern hemisphere (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa) or the british isles (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales). Other interesting options are France or Western Samoa. The others, even if some teams have improved considerably since the release of the game (Tonga, Argentina or Japan) will represent a good challenge.
The game is quite funny, even if frustrating at first for the hard to use controls to throw passes. It’s notorious that the developers thought some situations of a traditional match and I’m thankful for that. Passing aside, the game is intuitive and it’s not difficult to start playing a match.
Said so, I’m not totally sure if being fair to judge the passing scheme as a failure since I don’t have access to the instructions manual. A conclusion is that as I’m moving forward to reviewing games, reading the instruction manual will be more and more mandatory.
Console Icons taken from Retroarch.