25 years ago Goal Storm hit our stores and whilst it might not look like it, it was cutting edge gameplay. However, it wasn’t until 5 years later that the game finally took on the name that you’ll know it better as: Pro Evolution Soccer. 2021 marks 20 years of the “Pro Evo” franchise and over those two decades this footballing behemoth pushed the boundaries of gameplay. Long gone are the days of fierce rivalries between Merseyside Red and Merseyside Blue. We’re no longer putting on the boots of legendary players such as Ronaird (Brazilian Ronaldo if you didn’t know).
The PS2 Era
In general the PS2 era was a fantastic one for gamers but for PES specifically it was a stellar time. The game went from that slightly obscure football game your mate might have had where you’d laugh at the names, to being widely recognised as better than EA’s counterpart FIFA.
Konami were on to something special in the early 2000’s. What may seem like nothing to today’s gaming standard was revolutionary at the time. The changes between each of the early PES games such as being able to control the ball and turn in a single movement we’re huge. These little tweaks from year to year helped the game’s popularity rise. It quickly became the go-to football game despite its lack of real licensing.
The important thing about PES was that it always felt like gameplay was first. Creating a game that was not only great fun to play, but pushing the boundaries of gameplay was at the forefront. That’s why no one cared about the fake names.
The on-going battle with FIFA each year undoubtedly made the game better, but by the late 2000’s early 2010’s that popularity started to slip away.
Legends that never existed
Part of the charm of the Pro Evolution Soccer series back in the day was all the fake names. Roberto Larcos became the legendary Brazilian left back everyone wanted. Ryan Greggs was the Welsh wing wizard. Edwin Farzel Haar, Ziderm, Ruud Vom Mistelroum and Naldarinho all became legends in the world of PES for their slightly tweaked and hilarious re-imagined names. Any football fans at the time knew who these players were meant to be and it would always be a good laugh seeing how they could butcher existing names.
Furthermore, the team names that would also provide a good laugh. London FC, Patagonia, Madrid Chamartin B, Man Blue to name but a few.
Over the years more and more real names for both players and clubs have been added which could be part of the reason why the game lost its charm.
If there is one thing that helps define any sports game, it’s the accompanying soundtrack. The first song that blares out as you first load the game. Or that banger of a playlist that keeps you sitting in the menus for just one more song is a memory ingrained in us all. Over the years PES has had some amazing tracks from Klaxons, Temper Trap, Kaiser Chiefs and a whole load more. Not only that, the game has also featured some amazing original tracks too creatively titled “PES4 Edit-mode”, for example.
There is no doubt that Pro Evo holds a special place in many gaming and sports fans’ hearts. Those few years during the peak of the PS2 era were amazing and will be fondly remembered by anyone who played. Whilst it may seem like the games glory days are behind it, it is still a great game both visually and from a gameplay standpoint.