‘Pleasure Goal ACA NEOGEO’ Review – Not All Goals Can Be Attained – TouchArcade

‘Pleasure Goal ACA NEOGEO’ Review – Not All Goals Can Be Attained – TouchArcadeIn the last few months, Hamster has by and large been filling out its ACA NEOGEO series of releases with titles from the earlier years of the system’s life. Once in a while, we’ve gotten the odd (and I do mean odd) later release, however, and this week appears to be one of those. You probably remember some of the sports games on the NEOGEO. NEO Turf Masters. Baseball Stars Professional. Windjammers. Super Sidekicks. But I’d be willing to bet that most of you haven’t heard of Pleasure Goal ($3.99), a 1996 release developed by Saurus. There’s… there’s probably a reason for that.

Saurus was founded in 1993 and spent most of its brief life as a subsidiary of SNK. It was founded by employees of SNK’s Tokyo branch after it was shuttered, and more or less took its place all the way down to occupying its same office space. While it handled a lot of different tasks for SNK, including crafting NEOGEO Pocket ports of some of the NEOGEO’s biggest hits, Saurus is probably best known for its Shock Troopers series of run-and-gun action games. Well, outside of Japan anyway. Inside Japan, it’s probably more known for creating the Stakes Winner series of horse racing games. It’s possible you might remember them from Prehistoric Isle 2 as well.

Saurus’s first game on the NEOGEO console was Stakes Winner, and it was a solid success. One of the members of Saurus, Kenji Ishimoto, had been the planner on another earlier sports success on the system while part of SNK Tokyo: Super Sidekicks. Perhaps that experience led to him wanting to take a swing at a similar sport. Pleasure Goal is is meant to be a futsal game, even if some of the details don’t line up. The broad strokes fit. You’ve got five players on each side, and the field is a lot smaller than the usual soccer pitch. Close enough. Heck, the game’s Japanese title is simply Futsal. I rest my case.

Whatever you want to call it, this is a more compact take on soccer, and I think that’s actually a pretty good idea for an arcade sports game. Less space to maneuver means more players crashing into each other and shorter trips to the goal, which means more shots on goal. Look, I’m Canadian. The closer a thing gets to hockey, the better I think it is. Setting that aside, a more immediate and action-packed version of a popular sport should be a sure-fire win. I shall call it… “arcade-style soccer”. Trademark it, Jared.

Pleasure Goal, unfortunately, was not a win. It’s not an especially poor game. The graphics are nice. The controls are responsive enough. Easy to pick up and finesse is but a button away if you know what you’re doing. The music is a short loop that will drive you bonkers before you even finish a single match, but such is life. You get a decent amount of time for your coin, even if you lose. There are lots of teams to pick from, which is nice. But despite getting a lot of the boxes checked, it just never quite comes together the way you would hope.

There are only two modes here, the Saurus Cup (for one player) and Vs. (this one is for two). I’d imagine most mobile players will be sticking to the first of those two, which sees you pick a team and try to work your way through the tournament brackets until you take home the cup. The CPU is… fine. Not too rough, though it gets a little wild once you get a few matches in. That’s about what you would expect, though. Imagine buying a $200 cartridge for your NEOGEO and rolling the CPU in one night. You’d then pull it out in front of your friends and bravely try to present it as being better than NHL ’94 on the Genesis, even though you know the truth. A tragedy in two acts.

So what about it doesn’t work, apart from it being a bit thin on things to do? Personally, I just didn’t find it very satisfying to play. The more compact play area makes it hard to set up interesting plays, and the way the goalkeeper reacts means the best tactic is often just to rush the goal with whoever gets the ball. Passing isn’t completely pointless, but it’s pretty near to it. The button assigned to tricks takes a lot of getting used to if you want to have any proper control over what happens, but in the end those fancy moves aren’t going to produce any better results than good ol’ goal charge.

Pleasure Goal works better with another human player, which is a revelation that I doubt is shocking anyone in the crowd. Except that one guy two rows from the back, but he was shocked when Mysterio turned out to be a bad guy in Far From Home. There’s no helping him. Anyway, with another human player you can enjoy the chaos a little better, and there’s more of a point to trying to show off with the tricky moves. The music is still maddening no matter what you do, though. But of course, the problem here is the usual one with these mobile ACA NEOGEO releases: you probably aren’t going to be able to pull off multiplayer.

The game supports external controllers, and that is what you’ll need to play with someone else. I’d probably advise using one anyway, as this game makes fairly extensive use of three of the four NEOGEO buttons during gameplay and it’s easy to mess things up with the virtual buttons. It’s not unplayable without a controller by any means, but using one will certainly make for a better experience overall. At any rate, you’re probably playing alone, which means you’re just challenging the Saurus Cup with various teams until you get tired of it all. Is that worth four bucks? It might be! Personally, I don’t know that I would have fed four bucks’ worth of quarters into this game. That’s sixteen whole credits, and I would probably have switched over to Metal Slug by my third coin.

Like I said earlier though, it’s not a horrible game. If you have an inclination towards arcade sports games, futsal, or just love that whole NEOGEO core experience, I think you’ll get a good enough time out of poking at this for a bit. I’ve played far worse sports games. I think that the more general audience and retro game fans who don’t have a “catch ’em all” mentality with the ACA NEOGEO line will be less enthused. It’s a very average game that adapts to mobile in a very middling sort of way, neither heaven nor hell but caught in that bland in-between. It’s incredibly forgettable, and its mobile incarnation carries on that tradition with grace.

ACA NEOGEO review boilerplate time! External controller support, check! Variety of options for gameplay, video, controls, and so on, check! Japanese and International versions included, check! Score Attack and Caravan Modes, check! Online leaderboards, check! Great emulation, check! I’ll stop the bit here to comment on those extra modes, because like with most sports games they really don’t work out well here. The five minutes on the clock in Caravan Mode is just about enough for a single game, which doesn’t leave a huge spread for potential points. Score Attack fares a bit better but it’s still not exactly a thrilling chase. These modes sometimes save these games, but here they’re just serving as checkmarks in some imaginary boxes. They’re here because all ACA NEOGEO games have them.

To sum it up, Pleasure Goal is okay. It is average. You can have some fun with it, but you’ll likely forget all about it by next Tuesday. As a mobile port, it is also sitting right in the middle of the line. It’s not ruined by touch controls and a lack of multiplayer, but it’s certainly worse for the wear. I think those who really enjoy arcade sports games will get a few days of light fun out of it, but there’s a reason its name doesn’t typically come up when people are talking about their favorite NEOGEO games.

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