Ah, february, time of the year when the rugby tournaments in Northern Hemisphere are held, highlight on 6 Nations. Of course, it’s not the only one, there is also the (highly controversial recently) Rugby Europe Championship o 6 Nations B, where participate the Leones (Spain National Team) and even after it was eliminated in route to 2019 Rugby Union World Cup we’ll talk about the oldest rugby videogame I have found.
Company: Data East Corporation
Platform: Arcade (DECO Cassette)
Controller: Two button Joystick
Scrum Try was a videogame made for the arcade system DECO, which was one of the first attempts to implement the hability of interchangeable cartridges in Arcade world.
The game was only known in Japan apparently, but we have to understand that in the Land of the Rising Sun, rugby was notoriously more popular that in the United States during the 80s, main target of their videogame exports.
It’s still a mistery to me why the game was not sold to European markets, where rugby is much more known.
This game is quite rudimentary, as many of the sports videogames of early 80s. It’s fine if you don’t have the slightest idea of rugby, because the basics are well covered.
In case you can get the ball until the opposite end zone you get 4 points, and it’s called a Try, if after that you can kick the ball between the goal posts you get 2 more.
With the joystick you can move the player you control (it has a different color from the rest of the team) in the direction you want. With one button, if you have the ball you can kick it forward and, if near enough, you can try to get a goal 3 point worthy. In the worst case, you can aspire to get it behind enemy lines and try to recover it. The other button is used to “pass” the ball to the closest teammate, but it always fall short.
When you don’t have the ball, the kick button is used to give a tackle to the rival who always drop the ball after getting hit; el “pass” button does nothing in these circunstances.
It catches my eye, that a Scrum was implemented in the game, but I never won one. The Maul and Ruck are missing, but I guess that for the time was hard to program in this rugby videogame.
There are two variants of the game. One appears to be more of a proto than the another, because the buttons are less responsive. This particular version has the field with a colour close to clay, and also it’s easier to score. The other version has a green-lime grass, but it’s harder to score.
In any of the two variants, when (and if) you won a match, you face other “team” faster. I have reached the third game, but it appears there are no more teams. This means, that a fourth match will be against the first team. This was very frequent in videogames of early 80s. My main strategy was kick the ball, let the opposite team grab it, and then tackle it, this way I advanced faster towards the goal.
The game can be considered from regular to bad, but quite didactic at the same time in case you know close to nothing of this beautiful sport, because the basics are very well implemented.
Console Icon taken from Retroarch.