You run home from school. Kick your Ben Sherman Wallabees off. You know he’s there. Waiting. Ready to unleash a 99 shot power rocket from one corner of the box to the opposite top corner of the net. No sign of coming down. Right. In. The. Net. You smile. Pull out the case & slip the disc into your PS2. It’s Adriano time. You nod firmly at him as you pick up your pad. Trevor Brooking’s voice booms through the TV – “PRO EVOLUTION SOCCER”. It’s time.
How bloody good was PES 6 – the OG Hipster’s choice of Football Game. Arguably PES 4/5 were just as good but they lacked peak, Adriano. Real arcade football. Pinball. Excitement. End to end. Zidane, Beckham, Inzaghi, Cannavaro & Co. Before we became too critical of Football Games (see modern day FIFA generation). Expectations were considerably lower. You settled for 90-degree dribbling. You settled for 3 skill moves. You ADORED Trevor Brooking. The squads were magnificent. PES 6 was another gift from those glorious Japanese. First Korea/Japan 2002. Now Winning Eleven.
It wasn’t just settling though. For every flaw with the gameplay, you were gifted something magnificent. For starters, you could jump into the PES Shop & purchase Juan Sebastian Veron & Freddy Adu (Blocked my mate on Twitter recently – if you’re reading Freddy you’re not welcome round our way). You could edit/create kits, badges, boots (YES BOOTS) & fan shirts. AMAZING. They even stored Adidas, Nike & Puma kit templates without the logos for your creative pleasure. Furthermore, you could literally draw up the Adidas logo in five minutes & throw it on your kit. Mega. (Or head into the black market of eBay & purchase a memory card which some shifty geezer had uploaded ALL licenced kits/badges/team names).
Master League. (Way better name than Career Mode). Pounds? Euros? Dollars? Nah, we’re willing to sell you Ballack but we want 15230 PES points. PES points were the original transfer currency. This Neymar transfer would’ve been way more exciting had PSG offered their sum in PES points, wouldn’t it? Exactly. You could even use your Master League side in Exhibition mode against your mates. Wonderful.
Team names. Slightly confusing. Especially as a younger self with very little geographical knowledge. Also somewhat disappointing that the Bundesliga (excluding Bayern Munich) was not available. That’s in hindsight though. I wasn’t screaming out at the age of 12 for Torsten Frings. The team names, however, do make great pub quiz conversation & actually, some of them are great. West Midlands Village, Pompy, Berkshire Blues, Lancashire Blues & Patagonia (Boca Juniors – how cool).
All perks aside. I really did fall in love with PES 6 for the gameplay. It was pure excitement. The sheer difficulty of scoring a volley from beyond the 18-yard box. The angled strike. The sound of the ball leaving each player’s boot. The slide tackle from behind in which the victim appeared to bend backwards way beyond your regular spine’s allowance. Diving headers. Pitch patterns. Player conditioning. The speed of the game. Konami advertising boards. The Galacticos. Opposite buttons to FIFA. Great stuff.
This was a game you could not master. No Ultimate Team nonsense. No “super players” who could literally beat you 8 nil every game. No online frustrations. Purely exciting, arcade football. A game as wonderful on your own as with your friends. PES 6, for all its “external” flaws to non-users, was THE ultimate football game.