Game: Super Sidekicks 2
Format: Arcade (also available on: Neo Geo)
Also known as: Tokuten Ou 2 – Real Fight Football (Japan)
The second in developer SNK’s 1990s series of arcade/Neo Geo games, Super Sidekicks 2 takes on the distinctly Japanese approach towards football games in its feel and aesthetic (feeling almost like a distant cousin once removed of International Superstar Soccer). It’s flashy, with huge player sprites, loud commentary vocal samples and a large array of “cut scene” style animations for whenever something happens. Gameplay-wise, there’s an emphasis on bashing the ball around the pitch and crunching into tackles rather than anything approaching considered or tactical play.
Probably the most distinctive attribute is the “Chance!” system, whereby the occasional appearance of that word above a player’s head gives you the opportunity to press the shoot button and be taken to a special, pseudo-first-person targeting screen to have a shot on goal. It was undoubtedly this that made the game seem weird and brilliant when I first encountered it in arcades, particularly as these opportunities would only ever seem to happen once or twice in the thirty seconds or so of play that a single coin would afford you.
Of the three Super Sidekicks games released in quick succession, this is probably the best, although as ever it could just be my familiarity with it that means I’d place it above the ones either side of it.
If you’re so inclined, you can watch nearly half an hour of it being played in the below video. It’s oddly therapeutic, in its own way: