It makes a weird sort of sense that Paolo Pedercini would hate on the modern era of sports games. The man behind the Molleeindustria catalogue makes cutting anti-establishment games like Phone Story and Unmanned, experiences that put players in deeply exploitative and uncomfortable realities. But for his latest creative effort, Pedercini took on something else that he despises.
Yeah, he made a game about sports. Specifically, bike polo. Which, yes, qualifies as a sport.
A few weeks ago, the F**K This Game Jam tasked its attendees to make titles in genres that they hate. Pedercini turned out Arcade Bike Polo, a response to the increasingly photorealistic and simulation-centric corner that sports games painted themselves into. In a blog post about the game, Pedercini says:
The main inspiration for Arcade Bike Polo is Sensible Soccer, a frantic, streamlined and rather hardcore Amiga title from 1992. Sensible Soccer was a product of that awkward period of gaming history suspended between the symbolic/iconic age (i.e. pong) and the forced march toward photo-realism starting from the mid-nineties.
The choice of Hardcourt Bike Polo was obvious since it's pretty much the only sport I've ever liked (full disclosure: I'm a terrible player). Moreover, Bike Polo is still not contaminated by rampant commercialization, exploited by cool hunting marketers, nor dominated by jock culture. On the opposite, it's strongly connected with bicycle advocates, it's decentralized and permeated by a DIY/punk(ish) attitude.
For all the high-faluting design talk, the free downloadable game is a lot of fun. And it does recall the kinds of sports games from 15, 20 years ago.