|Reference added: 447|
"Kunio sports games on PCE."
The full name, which I've seen romanized as "Nekketsu Koukou Dodge Ball-Bu CD Soccer-hen," babelfishes to "Thermal blood high school dodge ball section PC soccer compilation." The "PC" here stands for PC Engine, I think, since the NES version doesn't have that part, but there's no telling why they had to stick "section" or "dodge ball" in there. So I'll simplify it somewhat to "Hot-Blooded High-School Soccer."
Quite similar in feel to its cousin "Hot-Blooded High-School Dodge Ball" (see entry 447) in that you concentrate on beating the heck out of an opposing team of players, sometimes with a ball. In soccer your main goal, of course, is to get the ball in the goal, rather than beating the opposition to a senseless pulp, but you'll be happy to know that you can still do that, too, it just takes a little more under-handedness (and a lot of slide-tackling).
Like the other Kunio 8-bit game ports I've played, HBHSS has a pretty stodgey framerate and rather flat visuals. But it's not how many colors and frames you have, it's how you use them, and HBHSS's meaty action and bold super-deformed characters, in that classic Kunio style (Kunio was some game designer dude at Technosoft or something like that), come through with winning colors in the end.
The AI is even pretty good here, as you can select from various options on a Kanji screen presented before each half (fortunately there's a FAQ for that), including how often they should pass, if they should try tackling or just marking their man on defense, etc. When you don't have the ball you can give them an order by pressing the button on your controller that would perform the action for YOU that you want them to do--if you want them to pass, press your pass button. They're actually pretty good at passing.
According to the manual the game also supports up to four players! Which would be madness, and I really want to try it.
The HBHSS brand of soccer is actually just six-on-six, and I'm not sure the ball can go out on the sides but you can get corners. I don't think they have offsides, and there's definitely no referee. He probably wouldn't last too long. You can slide tackle all you please, or throw shoulders in to people, but they're pretty good about doing it back to you, too. If you want to get fancy on offense, each character has a special shot they can do somehow with some kind of timing or button combination or something that I'm not very good at yet. You can also do headers, flying headers (I scored on one today, I am leet), and bicycle kicks, which I haven't seen yet but which look really cool in the screenshots in the manual.
In single-player you get cute little cutscenes between matches where your schoolgirl manager (?) tries to motivate you to play harder. Each round brings another weird team against you, like the shaven-head monk guys, or the bikers. Some fields have special properties--I've played on a field that had big rocks you could trip over, and the manual shows a picture of a slippy-slidy ice field.
While it doesn't have the complete and constantly over-the-top cartoon violence of the Dodge Ball game, HBHSS has much more interesting team play dynamics. And there's nothing quite as satisfying as snatching the lazy keeper's goal kick out of the air, pounding it back at him hard enough to bowl him over, and then booting it through the goal over his prone super-deformed body. Why doesn't every game have something like that?
|Oops, I meant "Technos Japan," not "Technosoft." Supposedly Kunio Taki, who was their president, is still around and contributed to the PS1 game "Rainbow Dodgeball" of recent and brief memory (see entry 219) but I'm not sure how much of that I believe, because Rainbow Dodgeball just isn't as good as the old Technos Japan stuff. Maybe Taki is just cashing it in these days.|
Actually let's see. The Internet says Taki came from Data East along with two other guys. Technos Japan Corp went bankrupt in 1996, and Taki and most of the other TJC folks ended up at Million, Inc., a subsidiary of Atlus, where they've been working on remakes of their old games. And ah, yes, Atlus published Rainbow Dodgeball, so maybe there's something to this. Aha, and Million's copyright notice appears on an Atlus press release about the upcoming port of River City Ransom, another classic 8-bit Technos Japan title.