As we’ve been finding out over the last few months, the lure of retro is uniquely powerful. Whether you come for the the nostalgia, or merely curiosity; a desire for something different or dissatisfaction with modern gaming, what matters is, it’s impossible not to get hooked on this activity.
One of the best things about going retro is the time one gets to conveniently explore all that a game has to offer, and doing so at the pace one prefers. Unshackled by the carousel of modern sports gaming, whose titles seem to be boring people ever more quickly, I found that finally, I had the opportunity of doing something I had meant to do many years ago, but could never force myself to because between real-life and gaming affairs, time was insufficient. But now, after realizing I can play whatever I want, whenever I want, and as often as I feel like playing, I can finally begin to bring this project to life.
The core of the experience of playing a sports game is the act of producing a clash between two sides of unique players, formations, tactics and strategies. The rest is just glitter when compared to the fundamental premise of the game itself: to have a believable, fun, compelling and challenging simulation of the sport – and regardless of the particularities of each game, what will give essence to that experience is the data. Otherwise, you might as well rename all your teams on your favourite sports title to Team A-Z, assign all players the same stats, in turn completely levelling out the field of play.
(Actually, this sounds a lot like the ideal eSports game, doesn’t it?)
But in doing so you’d kill the essence of the game – the data.
A while ago I found the Pro Evolution Soccer 5 Piggyback Guide and was amazed by the in-depth look at PES5 that it provides on every aspect of the game. Particularly, what caught my eye and left me even more in awe for this work was what you could call a series of “scouting reports” on many teams: those were comprehensive analysis on all the data of each side, from players stats to the team’s formation and strategies. It even gives advice on how to explore the deficiencies you’ll find when encountering said team as an opposition, in order for you to properly adjust your playing style to be able to maximize your chances at beating them.
As I read on, it was impossible not to be influenced by the valuable content in front of my eyes and feel the urge to fire up PES5. This is what entices people to play the game, not the flashy teaser trailers or the graphical glitter: the feeling that you’re participating on a unique, deep and complex experience, as demonstrated by the richness of this PES5 Guide.
But what if we could take it a step further?
I decided to use this idea of writing “scouting reports” on teams and go further with it. Given we have all the time in the world to play and write about retro-PES games, and we do now have in The Retro Sports Club the perfect platform to do so, I found it to be the adequate setting to develop this idea.
While the analysis of the PES5 Guide operated within a framework of evaluating teams mostly according to its expected performance on the pitch, we’ll go further and evaluate the squad, formations and strategies in an even more in-depth way – but not just for PES5 – any retro-PES game we want to scout. It’ll be the living, breathing and ever-evolving encyclopedia of retro-PES, an effort to “map” the biggest number of teams, find out exactly what they have to offer in each game, and report our findings to the RSC readers.
This is why we’re starting the Retro-PES Lab.
Whenever a new post comes up under the category “Retro-PES: Lab”, you’ll know you’ll be reading another chapter of our (hopefully many) scouting reports. It’s as if another page was added to our book. The Lab is where we’ll go further than anyone ever went and explore minuciously what each retro-PES team brings to the table on each game.