This Is Cousin MacAdder

Good news – the silly season on the blog is over.

It seems to have gone on for longer and been sillier this year. That’s because it has gone on for longer, and it has been sillier…

This summer I’ve been busy with work and some other matters, and not had much time at all to devote to the blog. Doing a twice-weekly blog takes up a significant amount of time. A month or so ago I almost mothballed the blog until September. The last time I took that sort of step, though, I enjoyed my leisure so much that I ended up taking a whole year off, and I didn’t want to run the risk of being tempted to do that again.

So I went with all the posts about me playing, oh, ‘This Is Football 2003 whilst riding a unicycle’, and that sort of thing. Cheap as chips.

I would like a short break before the new season begins, so I will have the next two Fridays off. I will continue with once-weekly Tuesday posts until the last week of August, when I will return to twice-weekly with my End of Year Review of PES2019 and a look ahead to PES2020.Yesterday, prompted by a comment from a regular commenter, one Uncle Turf Esq., I acquired a ROM of International Superstar Soccer for the PlayStation2. And played it in PCSX2 on the PC. And recorded the footage, which is below.

England versus Scotland, of course. I didn’t bother upscaling the graphics or making any housekeeping tweaks offered by PCSX2, so this is a bit blurry and there are occasional glitches:

ISS(PS2) is a sort of second cousin to the mainline ISS-PES series that we know. Definitely a non-canon effort, this was a port of ISS64 from the Nintendo 64 – itself a somewhat legendary game on that platform.

I remember the PS2 version coming out at the time to the indifference of the already-large ISS-PES community. The gaming press at the time was almost entirely print-based, awarding every PES game a routine 10/10 every year from PES2 to PES6, and quite rightly so. Back then you tended to have one game and you played that game alone.

So this International Superstar Soccer port pretty much died a death in the UK and European market, although it was more popular in the Japanese and North American markets, which was the intention.

I found myself enjoying my one match on ISS(PS2) a lot more than I was expecting to. The mechanics are surprisingly solid, although I never did quite get to grips with the passing system, as can be seen. The first goal I conceded – quite early on – was a poor one from my perspective, but it shows the AI dribbling and taking people on.

I never scored, and barely had any meaningful shots, not getting my first proper shot away until I stopped trying to sprint-pressure, as in modern games, and take my time.

All in all, I would rate this fleeting encounter with ISS(PS2) quite positively, and I was not expecting to. A very playable game, perhaps even a touch more playable today than the ‘official’ games of the time. The design elements from almost two decades ago (such as that big blue free kick arrow) do feel prehistoric now, but that sort of thing charms rather than bothers me.

In other news, I have finally put in my PES2020 pre-order, after kidding myself for a few weeks that I might be able to become a PC gamer. I’m a console man through and through, and I have of course plumped for the PS4 version again this year. Which doesn’t mean I can’t also go PC, though, particularly if the retail PES2020 is watered down to the point of blandness, of which there is a high chance.

I’ve gone with my supplier of the past two years, Simply Games, who dispatch the quickest of any online retailer in my experience. I’ve worked out that I could get PES2020 as early as Friday 6th September, or at least over that weekend. Which would actually not be totally welcome, as I will be hectic with work, but I’ll take it. If it happens.

And that really is the end of silly season on the blog. Back to Serious Season with immediate effect.

NO Friday post for a couple of weeks, remember, so I will return with a new post next Tuesday.

Which will be taking us back, for a couple of weeks of continuous play of The One True Game..

Back to the Golden Age of football gaming.

Back to a time just before everything started to change.

Back to the only real football game that has ever been made.

Updated: 13th August 2019 — 11:57


  1. Uncle Turf — I think the stage of any PES where it ‘breaks’ is heavily user-influenced too. It also does depend on the PES of course – e.g. PES5 never broke, not even close; the much-adored PES6 broke for me around Season 5, with back-to-back Trebles suddenly possible, but there are PES6 lovers out there happily playing for dozens of seasons, with House Rules, probably; PES2008 was broken in Season 4 or so when I discovered the wonder dribble and that I (a non-dribbler) could actually do it; PES2010 and PES2012 never really broke at all for me, I just ran out of steam with them; PES2013 broke in Season 5-ish with the shooting out of control – and so on.

    PES2017 only semi-broke for me. I could have gone on. None of the mechanics were undermining the gameplay. I just got tired of the endless procession of identikit AMF/SS types and it ran out of steam naturally.

  2. NG – See I am in agreement there. Last year’s FIFA while being better in many places feels too real in presentation terms sometimes. After a bad loss last season I was unable to even look at FIFA whereas PES never has this problem in master league. It is a more separate reality that you can escape to which is the point of gaming.

  3. prsgame – Both PES and FIFA mimic the television presentation of football, as much or more than they do the mechanics of a football match. That uncanny valley feeling you get with FIFA is due to how close it’s come to replicating the TV packaging of the game. It’s not just the graphics and logos and the like. There’s the high pitch-side vantage point, the commentators, the camera swinging back and forth… It should be remembered that we don’t actually play football games – we play a representation of the mode in which football is televised. A few Virtual Reality generations down the line, maybe we’ll actually play football, but for now we play a weird ghost of a TV production of football. And it’s better than football!

  4. NG – Great, I can’t wait for the PTSD from being virtually shouted at to close down the opposition centre backs or the ‘not bad feet for a heavy lad’ comments.
    I’d be all for FIFA’s training games though

  5. The BaP and BaL modes, with the camera set to follow the player around at pitch-level, are the closest to actual football we’ll come for 10 or 20 years, probably. Shame that neither mode is more than it is – BaP is probably the better of the two, thanks to FIFA letting the player skip action he’s not invovled in. God DAMN Konami for not getting rid of CPU-vs-CPU in BaL.

    But even here I think most players of the modes have the camera set to the TV-style one, i.e. up and high. Same for fixed cursor players etc.

    We’re TV Football Gamers.

  6. Just finished Detroit Become Human and what an experience it was. The best thing is that it isn’t over as there is so much replayabilty factor to see how the story can change in many ways.

  7. I’ve decided when I come to add the final few PS2 Pes’s to the library I will not go down the route of overpaying for an old disc on ebay/CEX, etc. If I want 2012/13/14 on that format it has to be as a result of digging through the bin in the world’s only remaining Blockbuster, or a shop specialising in figures of Orcs who happen to have a few games in a ‘retro’ section. They will of course be completely unknown to me as I used to junk anything that didn’t favour the latest graphics.

  8. Uncle Turf – you have made me aware that I don’t own physical copies of the PS2 games after PES2008, and that this is a situation that must be remedied. I’m totally comfortable with the idea of being an almost 50 year old man with cellophane-wrapped copies of old computer games. I was looking at my physical copy of ISS Pro 98 today and the jewel case is cracked and needs to be replaced. This could be the start of something.

    Darryl – I forgot to grab Detroit when it was a free PSN game last month, but what is there in it that’s a game? Is it all a narrative that you guide?

  9. When mini turf was a toddler and had all that baggage they seem to need at that age I junked loads of stuff. Now he’s older and bits of the house are being reclaimed I figure a couple of foot of game cases can be happily accommodated. For 50p a throw just simply looking at them is worth it.

    If you’re pursuing all the ps2 pes’s then at some point we may be destined to meet, Indiana jones style, arriving on opposite sides of a grubby second hand games aisle, me with my hat and whip, you with your horde of nazi soldiers. You will of course obtain it by superior firepower but I’ll later burgle it from you after a run in with a snake.

  10. NG – Yes it is mainly the narrative that you guide but with a bit of combat and LA Noir type of investigation and finding clues. I won’t give anything away but you control 3 main characters and if you manage to keep them all alive then they come together in a final scene that is one of the most memorable that I have seen in a game. You develop such an affection for the main characters that you really do feel it when their life is in jeopardy. There was one moment that had my heart thumping. For yourself it would be ideal as it wouldn’t take too much out of your schedule. Like a great film it has you still thinking about it after the credits have rolled.

  11. Can someone tell me where exactly all the VAR handball controversy is? Isn’t the rule just a straightforward binary verdict without any interpretation required? What exactly is VAR doing that is wrong? What are the players on the pitch complaining/arguing about? What are the crowd booing for? What are all the pundits frothing about? Where is the error in the decision? Have I missed something?

  12. I don’t think anyone is arguing about the decision. It’s just that the knowledgeable pundits have only just realized that the rule has changed. In fact I’d be willing to bet some of them haven’t yet realized.

  13. I think Gabriel Jesus at the end of the Man City match was arguing against the decision. As was one of the Wolves players last week in his MOTD interview (saying that there was nothing his teammate could do to avoid the handball, he had a definite air of thinking that it had been an interpretation by the VAR officials).

    There are early signs that they’re going to handwave away all the penalty box grappling.

    Association Football fans, players and pundits really dont like the rules of their game. Is there any other sport in the world with a comparable state of affairs?

  14. Steve Nicol and Alejandro Moreno are definitely in NG’s corner on this one:

    Particularly like Moreno’s reaction to the fans leaving with an empty feeling.

  15. Was away for a while and didn’t get chance to upload that goal I mentioned last week. My first manual golaço!

  16. rhymes450 – a great clip and I’m fascinated to see what gets the upper hand over the next few weeks. Will the penny drop with the players (who clearly don’t seem to get it; cf. Gabriel Jesus et al)? Will the penny drop with the stadium fans (it might, but even so, booing will still happen of course)? It certainly is so much more important to make correct decisions in a sport than to care about hurt feelings of spectators or players.

    Football won’t be an honest sport until the 10-15 penalties per match, that should be awarded in every single professional match, are awarded. It just IS NOT allowed to grab at your opponent in any circumstance. Here so far the VAR room officials are showing themselves to be as cowardly as the on-field ones. ‘Oh, if we give this penalty, then we’ll have to give all the penalties – and then there’ll be too many penalties! So let’s just carry on ignoring most of the penalties…’

  17. Tommy – what a hit, what a hit! Manual shooting in football games has to be one of the toughest things in all of gaming. Your cross that led to the goal was such a manual cross too – mine all look like that.

  18. PES 2020 has the licence for Serie A. Could this be the first year I do an Italian Master League since PS2? Means you can start straight away.

  19. Just to be clear PES – Serie A is touted as ‘fully licensed’ which just means they can use the proper kits and player names, which would be sorted with an option file anyway.
    They don’t have any extra Serie A stadiums, or presentation graphics, or scoreboard, or adboards, just kits, player names and the Serie A logo swoosh that wipes across the screen when there’s a replay.

    Not even the Serie A trophy is available from day one, it will follow in a DLC after release.

    So ‘Fully licensed’ where PES is concerned means very little.

  20. Paul- I’m only bothered about the kits but I take your point after the debacle with the Celtic Rangers stuff last year. Diego returning to manage Napoli sounds like a good Master League story to me.

  21. PRS – option files available from release day will have all the real kits so the ‘license’ that was announced is worth absolutely zero.

    Meanwhile FIFA just announced they have a fully licensed German Bundesliga, with 180 face scans, 13 new stadiums, and full official broadcast presentation graphics.
    Thats a license.

  22. The last few years there’s been no waiting to start Master League for me anyway – there’s been a good-enough OF out on Day 1, and I’ve usually started an ML the next day after my few getting-to-know-you matches. All that waiting around until November or whenever, for everything to be absolutely perfect – I don’t understand it. I don’t condemn it, I just don’t understand it.

    I’m more worried this year that the game will start plopping on doormats the weekend before the official release week, when as a weekend worker (long, gruelling hours) I won’t have any time for more than a few late-night England-Scotland Exhibition matches, if that. I’m not saying I don’t want to get the game that early, but it’ll be frustrating.

  23. Paul – saw the fifa bundesliga trailer. Impressive stuff. It’s gamescom this week as well in Koln. Used to go to it annually and I’d recommend anyone who gets a chance to go. Fifa and pes need to turn up big there, the queues were massive to play them.

  24. Prsgame – in years past when Gamescom was the big bow for every PES, it was always deeply frustrating that it was only ever 1p vs 2p. So those queues of people never, ever got to play the games.

  25. Listening to the wolves game last night when Traore came on Chris Sutton said ‘fastest player in FIFA’ – and there’s konami’s problem, pes simply isn’t the reference point of console football. Whether it’s better, etc is irrelevant, they’ve lost no matter which licences they try and secure. They did too little a few years back and I’ll always remember going to Game and having to ask for the disc on release day – shop full of FIFA marketing and not even a box on the shelf.

    Abbeyhill you been to see the kelpies? Was up there at the weekend and makes our angel of the north look like a rusty tin soldier. Very impressive. Thought Falkirk ground looked decent too, was expecting a series of cowsheds.

  26. Interesting, and not surprising read on the PES tour bus doing the rounds:

    The PES Tour Bus – What A Waste Of Time & Money from WEPES

    PESUniverse OF will be out day one, and I’ve acquired a pack of all the media sponsor backdrop logos (3 per team) for all teams in the game, so ML will be good to go day one.

    I spoke to Simply Games too, they are expecting to get stock on the Friday/Saturday, so likely to send out the saturday which would mean a monday delivery.

    Darryl – Started Detroit last night, what an amazing immersive experience.
    Played it on the 94″ cinema screen, which lends itself beautifully to cinematic story based games, felt right in the middle of it all.

    Only 45 mins in but already hooked, the down and out abusive dad scenes, and Kara the android …. gripping stuff.

  27. Turf – It’s the same with Akinfenwa. He’s always referenced along side FIFA.

  28. Suppose you have to go back to Adriano for PES to be the point of reference.

  29. PRS – that was only because it was Seabass’ favourite player so they gave him a ridiculously unrealistic shot power and you could bust the net from 40 yards with regularity.

  30. Uncle Turf – I’m a Radio 5 listener too and whatever media training course Chris Sutton has been on, they’ve developed in him that SUDDENLY LOUD AND GROWLING SENSATIONAL VOICE! he does when something exciting happens. I always notice when a politician on the news implements their media training (not snapping and losing their temper when badgered/interrupted is pretty much 99% of politician media training) and it’s very noticeable in Chris Sutton, having gone from just another bland pundit to some sort of pseudo-American sportscaster in a very short time. Should he get the FIFA gig instead of Smith!

    As for points of reference, I thought that was long settled. I haven’t heard PES used as a reference point for over a decade. People haven’t even heard of it today.

    Paul – that’s great info cheers, and from the sound of it it’ll be Friday dispatch for Saturday delivery, which is terrible for me but great for everyone else, so I’ll keep pretending I’m not gutted. I could try for that weekend off but it’s unlikely. At least I’ll be ready to go on the Monday morning.

  31. Did the bus read “£350m to fund the LCS”?

    Need to get on and order my copy, didn’t realise how close we were to release.

  32. NG – and yet he can’t shake the slightly yokel twang he has, presumably picked up on his travels.

    I’ve seen the Euro 2020 news which is spectacularly underwhelming given that most of us will never play an international tournament. The CL loss is really hard, and like Paul said having Serie A, etc makes no odds as they can be patched. I’m pretty sure that without this blog I wouldn’t be buying or playing PES any more. I await the terms ‘hollow’ ‘pointless’ ‘broken’ etc in conjunction with the revamped ML claims.

    Lens top of Ligue 2 after 14 games. Promotion a certainty…

  33. Turf – The ‘fully licensed’ Italian League is a false claim.
    A full y licensed league would be what they did with the Spanish league back in PES 13 – All stadiums, all teams, kits, badges, cups etc.

    Just having the kits and the club badges (which are included in a free option file) is not a full license, not even the Serie A trophy will be there from day one, it will come in a later DLC (remember the 7 month wait for Celtic and Rangers stadiums last year)

    You won’t see any broken/empty/hollow claims about ML here from NG, no matter how bad the mode is, that’s reserved purely for FIFA, a game that is fully licensed, has presentation graphics, big game atmosphere, proper visible trophies, in depth squad management, yet is always somehow labelled hollow compared to a game that doesn’t even have a visible trophy for winning the league.

    The Mind Boggles. Anyway, hoping the ‘revamped’ ML this year will at least lend to some player interaction and building affinities with players, and be an improvement on the shambles that has been previously.

  34. You won’t see any broken/empty/hollow claims about ML here from NG, no matter how bad the mode is, that’s reserved purely for FIFA, a game that is fully licensed, has presentation graphics, big game atmosphere, proper visible trophies, in depth squad management, yet is always somehow labelled hollow compared to a game that doesn’t even have a visible trophy for winning the league.

    I know, it’s weird, isn’t it? Almost as if gameplay is the most important value in a football game. Damn peculiar!

  35. Its not though NG, EVERYTHING matters, no good having decent gameplay if there’s absolutely zero for it to be encushioned by, ok it may feel great to you for that 10 mins on pitch, but if all the other time spent ‘managing a club’ feels hollow and empty and an afterthought then it detracts from the gameplay experience.
    Similarly if a game doesn’t play great on the pitch but has all the bells and whistles and presentation, then it doesn’t matter if the on-pitch action isn’t worth bothering with.

    This isn’t a FIFA vs PES thing, it’s purely a ‘bothering to finish the game’ thing.

    If I’m playing 38 matches a season, taking weeks, and slogging my ass out to win the league trophy and at the end of it, all im greeted with is an empty space where a dev couldn’t be assed to put an actual cup then it totally ruins everything that’s gone before it, what was the point in it all? to win a square of dead air? thats the definition of hollow.

    And there’s no way you can say FIFA’s gameplay is poor, thus all the bells and whistles count for nothing, you may prefer PES’ core gameplay but FIFA certainly isn’t poor, it’s actually very very good.

    survey everyone on here, across the social media platforms too and I bet you could count on one hand the amount of people that do NOT think that PES ML mode has been empty and hollow for years now.

    Yet even when there’s no trophy, which is the ultimate point of the game, abysmal commentary, generic stadiums, stripped down squad management, broken tactics…….. it still doesn’t get labelled as empty.

    That’s Peculiar.

  36. The 1000th iteration of this debate doesn’t interest me in the slightest. You’ve really had the PES-FIFA illness bad this year, Paul.

  37. It’s just the basic Master League that’s missing from FIFA. Konami bottled lightning with the mode and despite them letting it go to wreck and ruin there isn’t a mode in FIFA that scratches the same itch.

    If there was a mode in FIFA that forced you to lose all your players and start from scratch at the bottom I don’t think I’d be even looking at PES.

    Maybe a financial meltdown mode or NEWCO mode to copy Rangers – fire sale of best players and start again at the bottom. That’s the only way I can describe where I’ve been at for years now.

  38. Haha. Amusing NG.

    As I said, wasn’t a FIFA vs PES debate, it’s more about your blind fanboyism towards PES and non-acceptance of when a product is an afterthought/not finished/not cared about.

    SO many PES diehard players say what PRS just said, if FIFA had a ML style mode whereby you could add kits and take a team of nobodies to the top then they would never touch PES again, so certainly isn’t anything to do with FIFA’s gameplay.

    I have no loyalty to either game, I don’t care, whatever is the best offering I’ll play, but to brand one game that offers so much as empty whilst defending a product that is at best, a beta, and has so many things missing, is just, well, peculiar.

  39. FIFA has great gameplay and has had for a decade or more, particularly the recent editions, its place in my reckoning is largely due to the time of release it comes along. No accident that my most intensely enjoyable Careeer Modes have been in the two FIFAs that released before their years’ PES games. I.e. FIFAs 12 and 15.

  40. NG – I wasn’t trying to start a debate or criticise which game you like, i like them both just feel PES production quality has been severely substandard for the past few years. Thats all.

  41. Paul, I know there’s a tipping point been reached with you where the PES package just isn’t enough in the current landscape, and not even anything necessarily to do with PES-FIFA, it’s just there as a comparison. For me there’s a way to go until that tipping point is reached. In Civilization, you’ve never heard me mention Civilization 6 on the blog, because of its shitty AI that I cannot take seriously when it does dumb things repeatedly. So I have that experience in another franchise.

  42. Shed – I’ve had a lot to do the past month or two, and came this close to shuttering the blog for the summer, but I decided I could keep going with semi-filler posts, and most of them have been semi-fillers…

    Until the sumptuous feast that is PES5!

    There really are no words – and the fouls are an integral part of the experience, because of consequences for all sloppy, lazy play. The appalling thing about the general reaction to the ePES2020 demo is that it didn’t even have that many fouls in it, but even they got howled down. It’s no accident that PES5 is pretty much the only football game ever made with a goodly amount of AI fouls in it. There just isn’t any appetite for that kind of considered play in the footy game marketplace. I fully expect the customary 0.80 AI fouls per match once more in PES2020.

    I think I go from year to year, from PES to PES, hoping that this will finally be the year the rugged magnificence and integrity of PES5 will make its reappearance.

    I keep getting caught out by the R1 knock-on, I.e. I set up Mathieu or Camacho beautifully for a distance strike, but my muscle memory makes me press R1 as they receive the ball, which of course usually gives the ball away.

    My team in Season 9 is actually quite mediocre in some parts, as over the past 6 years I’ve elected to focus on playing my one or two matches per week, and blown by most of the transfer windows. I’ll be stocking up with Regens and Classics later today, when mid-season rolls around.

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