Q&A: Simon Read, Founder of New Star Games on Retro Goal

Vince Pavey had the chance to talk with Simon Read, founder of New Star Games, and learned everything he could about their latest sports throwback title on consoles and mobiles, Retro Goal. Here’s what he found out.

For the benefit of our readers, can you explain what Retro Goal is in your own words? 

It’s a 90’s inspired arcade football game with fun arcade action and light management elements.

Why did you go with Retro Goal? Why not Retro Hockey, or something else?

Football video games were my first love so I keep coming back to them time and again, trying something a little different each time. Other sports will happen but it depends on what we feel inspired to do at the time. 

What differentiates the game from New Star Soccer?

First and foremost Retro Goal is a team game where you pick and control the team. NSS was more of a sports RPG that focused on managing the career of a single player. The actual gameplay is also very different.

How many people were on the team that made Retro Goal, including the console port?

There were around 7 of us in total. I wrote the prototype for the game engine then Mario Savoia took over the coding from that point. The rest of the team handled art, design, data, testing and production.

Which football games influenced you most as you made this throw-back sports title?

There are many influences. I primarily think of Emlyn Hughes International Soccer in terms of gameplay, but graphically it was more Man Utd Europe and Kick Off 3. The overall design, of course, was inspired by Retro Bowl!

What were the graphics made in? Do they adhere to the colour limits of any particular console?

Jason Gee, the artist, primarily uses Photoshop. We didn’t restrict ourselves in terms of art style, we just wanted to capture that Amiga feel. I wanted screenshots that would have had you drooling if you saw them in Amiga Power back in the 90s!

What engine and tools did you use to make Retro Goal?

The game was made with GameMaker Studio 2. I think it’s perfect for 2D games and it supports mobile, console and web platforms.

How long did it take to port the game from mobile to the Nintendo Switch 

It took around 9 months. A big part of that was nailing down the physical controls and making sure it felt good to play on console – that included ramping up the game speed slightly. We do like to “bake” our games until they taste just right!

Did you have any big issues during development? How did you address them?

I wouldn’t say “big” issues. One thing we wanted to do on Switch was support the NES joy-con controllers. This involved lots of iteration to make sure everything could be achieved with just 2 buttons and a d-pad.

How would you pitch this game to someone who’s usually only going to play FIFA or eFootball?

Open your mind to a different style of football game. If you owned an Atari ST or an Amiga you could walk into a video game store and see any number of football games on the shelf – particularly during a World Cup year. The situation isn’t too bad on mobile but it’s sad that the entire genre has been reduced to a handful of franchises on console.

Do you have advice for aspiring game developers?

Work on games you are passionate about and don’t aim too high too soon. Start with a small idea and just get it out there. Nothing beats the experience gained from simply completing a project and getting honest feedback.

Do you have any plans for further ports to Xbox or PlayStation?

It’s something we are looking at for both Retro Goal and Retro Bowl. We are a small team but the success on Nintendo Switch has been very encouraging.

Does the game on mobile support controller inputs? It’d be cool to play on something like the Retroid Pocket 3+.

It absolutely does! If you have a Bluetooth controller you can use that with your phone or tablet, and I’ve personally enjoyed playing it on an Ayn Odin handheld. It’s great!

How did people react to the game on mobile?

The response has been heart-warming. It’s nice to know that something like this can still appeal on both mobile and console. We don’t expect it to hit the heights of New Star Soccer or Retro Bowl simply because few games do!

What’s next for New Star Games?

We have something very special lined up for early 2023 which we are all very excited about. Details of that will be announced soon.

If you’d like to purchase Retro Goal on Nintendo Switch, you can still get it at a 60% pre-order discount (that makes it £1.79) until 6PM on November 24, 2022. 

About Vince Pavey

Vince is a writer from the North-East of England who has worked on comics for The Beano and Doctor Who. He likes to play video games and eat good food. Sometimes he does both at the same time, but he probably shouldn’t.

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