Aesthetically Pleasing Moments From Video Game Football History #10

We last featured a PC game in APMFVGFH back in episode 4, with the legendary Championship Manager 01/02. We return to the platform now with a title from the same period that was also similarly based around the world of football while not an actual football simulator, but not to quite the same universal acclaim as CM.

That’s right, here we have the iconic Hooligans: Storm Over Europe; another game that at one point was present in our very own POTP library but later loaned out to a DJ and shamefully never returned (we’re not really angry, share and share alike). Released in January 2002 as the debut publication of Dutch developers DarXabre, it is as close to “Football Hooligan Manager” as the world has yet seen, or rather “Warcraft 2-meets-hooliganism”.

Unsurprisingly the game received push-back from the outraged football establishment at the time, with the likes of the Dutch KNVB and the English FA both demanding it be banned. As the player takes control of their own firm setting out on a European campaign of destruction, the inclusion of the group name “Tartan Army” as one of a set selection to chose from also drew ire from Scottish supporter quarters; our preference was the ironically inapt Ultra Boys.

Your firm is a diverse group consisting of several distinct types of hool, powered to varying degrees by the intake of booze and drugs, and participation in violence and looting. Without these, they will turn astray back to a peaceful lifestyle.

Types of member include: “the rat”, good at sneaking but with weak drug and alcohol tolerance; the boombox carrying “raver”, with a high drug tolerance but low alcohol tolerance; and “the hooligan”, an expert in demolition and crowd control. There is also “the bulch”, who is, to quote Wikipedia, “an overweight dumb man who functions as the muscle”, and the leader (unfortunately not “Top Boy”), who can carry a gun and rallies the troops like no other.

Threaded in between the various game stages that we will see below, are cheesy cut-scenes of a classic mish-mashed “Hollywood hooligan” group (with different accents), being interviewed under the premise of a Dutch documentary:

The hooligan flag hung high indeed.

Despite this, the game itself is an absolute graphic delight. Here we see the opening level, as riot police with two vans are prepared outside “Station Noord” in a quintessential Dutch city, awaiting the arrival of the firm via train:

Among the many great minor details, a highlight is the inclusion of an Andre the Giant “OBEY” poster adorning the half-pipe of an adjoining skate park.

Like the real hooligan scene of it’s day, the majority of gameplay takes place away from actual football stadia, but here we get a nice exterior shot of the local ground. A few groups of boys are already mooching about the courtyard, and you better believe that pile of debris cordoned off just outside will soon be repurposed for nefarious means:

Going back to the train station, it is clear that the traveling hooligans have already arrived. We seem to have just missed them, but the gruesome and bloody scene left in their wake leaves little doubt:

Oh my.

The police, meanwhile, have abandoned their line and are regrouping in a shocked pack. Two of their members also lay unconscious across the street, as to the north the firm can be seen rampaging in the high street (note the broken windows at almost every establishment):

Later, back at the ground, the firm have launched an expert attacked from outside using the debris and are now rushing in to take the home end:

Later in the season, here we see what’s meant to be an English city. While a hooligan is entering the pub, we are really highlighting this for the billboard “SUN FUN HOOLIGAN”:

Extra marks for the bloke painting on a scaffold around the corner.

Some more nice architecture and examples of urban planning exist elsewhere in the city along with a beautifully rendered truck, while the thugs appear to go looking for a pray:

Back in the Netherlands, the grounds of a tulip company hilariously sets the scene for the next meet. The hooligans can be seen “tooling up” in a shed:

Again the painstakingly created tractors, greenhouses and pieces of machinery really set the ambience, as well as the beautiful flowers. But wouldn’t you only know it, those yobs have gone and ruined them:

The last stage is based in Germany, and finally we get a look inside a stadium. Some fans are already inside the ground, politely sitting in fetching yellow seats while police guard the pitch:

But unbeknownst to them (although they really should know), outside the hooligans pour from a local boozer:

With tension in the virtual air, the menacing mob make their way to the ground:

The gang swiftly break through the stadium gates (without paying for tickets) and the riot squad engage with the violent invaders, while innocent civilians flee the chaos, screaming for their lives:

While some firm members successfully make it inside, the narrow entrance causes a barbaric bottleneck. The miltarised, 21st century hooligans have brought sophisticated weaponry, as evident from the numerous explosions and resulting plumes of black smoke:

A few coppers stand gormlessly on the pitch, not really helping things at all as the carnage ensues. They are quickly punished for the lax attitude however, as in what really should have been a virtual edition of Pyro On The Pitch, someone accurately throws a deadly bomb in their midst:

Having defeated the first wave of police, the frenzied fans infiltrate the main stand before penetrating the advertisement hoardings and entering the field, while many seated supporters remain admirably calm. Incidentally, the retro dug-outs, though excellent, look slightly out of place compared to the relatively modern little stadium:

At the other end of the pitch, an end of season ceremony has clearly already been ruined as the blood splattered remnants of some unlucky dignitaries currently occupy the podium. An apparent lone survivor of this particular slaughter – perhaps experiencing survivor’s guilt – hangs around awkwardly, while a firm of the opposing team’s fans also stand idly by, not quite sure what to do in the face of these cold-hearted cop-killers:

At last the two firms come face to face for the final battle and given the number difference, combined with the meekness of the home fans, the brutal massacre that follows is not hard to predict. A small regiment of police, busy patrolling the end behind the goal, wisely turn a blind eye:

With their biggest rivals bloodied and beaten on the grass, many of the gang fittingly stand on the podium as the undefeated, champion army of Europe:

But you are forgetting one thing: the biggest firm belongs to the Old Bill. They are back and cordon-off the blood-soaked pitch that now resembles the Battle of the Somme, trapping a small mob near the corner flag:

Thankfully from the hooligan’s perspective, some ammunition – perhaps left over from the battle of Verdun – is on hand, causing a huge explosion and another atrocity. Those officers left standing run for their lives, leaving the remains of their comrades to rot on the unholy battlefield of the pitch, which has been downgraded to a mere arena of mindless violence:

Satisfied with a hard season’s work, and with a collection of fresh skulls in the top left corner of the screen, the hooligans casually leave the ground and eagerly head back toward the Irish bar (we assume) for a well deserved pint, and maybe a few drugs:

With the storm finally over, the innocent peoples of Europe could now start to rebuild their lives. Well, for at least a few months, as in the distance new storm clouds were forming, symbolically representing an even more dreadful conflict than the great war the continent had just endured.

That’s right, Hooligans: Storm Over Europe 2, or H:STOEII (release date TBD).

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Thanks to the original video up-loaders:
YouTube link 1
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YouTube link 4

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Aesthetically Pleasing Moments From Video Game Football History #7

Welcome back to the feature with the most annoyingly long, but obviously necessary series-title in retro football blog history. Probably not in video game history though. What is for sure is that gameplay means zilch here. Last time, you may remember some lush screens, lush graphics, and some chillingly unrealistic kit configurations that were possibly the result of an in-game alternate timeline dystopia situation.

But now we’re going to revisit a gentler and slightly less lush time, and the very first game we featured in this series, Tecmo’s European Championship 1992 for PC-DOS. In APMFVGFH#1 we had a look at the team-select screen with it’s handsome array of 16bit flags and kits, but since APMFVGFH has evolved since then, the game is definitely worthy of another look as it has a lot more old school goodness to offer.

The game opens with the delicious, classic title screen above that just drips DOS. Blue and green SHALL be seen! And while we referred to this as a gentler time compared to Champions World Class Soccer’s future hell-realm (I would rather die than see Italy play in green, white and red), the “grey void” of the would-be terraces and soulless mechanical landscape surrounding the stadium seems to indicate a similarly worrisome time in simanity’s alter-history.

Then comes another intro screen, definitely gif-worthy, with flags (always a plus) scrolling along the top and the Tecmo rabbit logo, which conveniently basically doubled up as the beloved and legendary European Championship rabbit mascot, the greatest mascot of all time in any discipline. The rabbit had debuted at Euro ’88 and was called Berni by the Germans, before being blatantly plagiarised by the Swedes who cunningly renamed him “Rabbit” to cover their tracks.

Next, as we already covered team-select in the aforementioned episode, we are going straight to pitchside and a look at the teams coming out, in this case Germany and England:

There is a lot to love here with player’s tunnel, athletics track, vibrant crowd, and Germany in their green away shirts (a POTP favourite), as well as cheerleaders which is not so realistic or necessary, but the effort is there. The fact that Tecmo is a Japanese company lets them away with it in our eyes, but photographers and officials in place of the cheerleaders could have been a welcome improvement.

Edit: At least that’s what we thought until we were smartened up by blog reader Lucas, who is fast becoming a invaluable fact checking resource:

About the cheerleaders part, it wasn’t made up by Tecmo. From what i remember, in UEFA EURO 1992 matches in Sweden (at the time when the game was developed), before the kick-off, there were two groups of cheerleaders on each side of the tunnel when the players were entering in the pitch. (as you can see from this photo from the final between Denmark and Germany in Gothenburg)

Thank Lucas, once again we gladly eat humble pie with this correction and as always welcome any and all contributions for stuff we may have missed.

It is now half-time and we have a lovely touch that I really appreciated, as a marching band parades across the pitch playing a military like tune. The attention to detail is excellent with smart red and yellow uniforms and simulated trumpets, flutes, tuba, triangle and, of course, the band leader with their baton, all on show.

Of course as always where possible, we must highlight the virtual crowd and we get a great shot of them down near one of the corners, patiently awaiting the arrival of the players (it’s a different match). As video game football crowds go, it really is a beauty:

And now for the pièce de résistance, one of the greatest things ever placed in a video game. I have long been a campaigner (as in I enthusiastically describe it’s potential with friends and loved ones) for the inclusion of VERY occasional fan rioting interrupting video game football matches. Rarer still, sometimes matches would have to be abandoned due to said trouble, merely for the sake of realism.

While we don’t quite have a riot, or any real “trouble”, there is an instance of, if not hooliganism, definite supporter disobedience with an immediate police response required. That is because at times in this game when a throw-in is being taken, a supporter breaks from the terraces and invades the pitch, fully nude, shortly thereafter chased by an irate policeman.

As you can see, the streaker boasts an impressive pubic region and appears to be a Caucasian male of athletic build. The players and officials don’t seem to care too much, barely taking notice, as in 1992 supporter encroachments were as normal and accepted as your standard, old pyro on the pitch. Indeed the inclusion of the easter egg proves the expectation at the time for some sort of incident involving fans at any given game.

Just for kicks, we can make it appear there is in fact a full firm of angry, naked hooligans pouring out from their enclosure:

As this edition of APMFVGFH comes to a close (which considering the above could really have been covered as a special, virtual edition of People On The Pitch), we will leave you with these shocking scenes, the disgraceful example of which perhaps being the ultimate childhood impetus for many of today’s football thugs. Amazingly we are not quite done reviewing European Championship 1992’s aesthetically pleasing moments, of which there are clearly many, but the rest will have to wait for another aesthetically pleasing day.

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Aesthetically Pleasing Moments From Video Game Football History #1

In a new feature here at Pyro On The Pitch, we take a brief look back at some lovely retro gaming images.

Here we have a “select-team” screen shot from Tecmo’s PC game “European Championship 1992“:

One glaring issue is the incorrect order of colours on the Russian flag, although since this is of course the Confederation of Independent States we’re talking about and not Russia, maybe this was intentional on Tecmo’s part. Also the CIS should be in red as their home shirt colour not white. Yugoslavia also incorrectly appear in away strip, so perhaps Tecmo was just making some sort of subtle commentary on collapsing states. We may never know, but hopefully the gamer did in fact choose to play as Luxembourg and lead them to glory.