Pro Evolution Soccer has been part of the football gaming world under one guise or another for over 15 years. One of the most respected and supported franchises within the genre, Konami’s soccer title began like under the guise of International Super Soccer (ISS) as a Japanese release in 1994. A western release in July 1995 was acommpanied the same year by International Superstar Soccer Deluxe, and available for the Sega Megadrive, Super Nintendo and an infant Sony Playstation. The games were praised for the playablilty, and whilst only featuring International teams, offered a genuine alternative to the Western designed football games on the market.
As the Playstation began to grow as a market super power, Konami spent time and money investing in a new wing of the ISS franchise, namely ISS Pro, (or Goal Storm in the United States). The game was one of the first to have instantly recognisable players based on appearance alone, and whilst lacking licenses, the mixture of arcade gameplay with simulation tactics made the title an instant classic, and one of the early ‘Playstation Platinum’ games.
The launch of the Nintendo 64 worldwide saw Konami release a brand new title in July 1997, simply called ISS 64. Designed by a different studio, the game shared very little in common in terms of game play with its PSX counterpart, and was one of the most popular titles to arrive on the N64 during its launch period. Also known by the name ‘Perfect Striker’ the game made full use of the consoles Joystick for responsive controls, and featured what is now legendary within the franchise, a Scenario mode, which saw gamers take on challenges experienced by real world teams and players.
Throughout the late 90′s, both franchises remained seperate, each gaining a devoted and loyal fanbase. Playstation fans were treated to ISS Pro 98, where N64 fans experienced the similarly named ISS 98, both featuring similar game play to their predesesor, but nothing like their counterpart.
During this time, genuine gaming media was taking more notice of the series. The now famous criticisms regarding lack of licenses began to become detremental towards each franchise, and rival games were even taking note of what Konami were doing, beginning to emulate game play options and control mechanics.
Iss on the n64 or the opus j-league perfect striker2 1999 on the N64.Konami IMO have never matched the sheer level of control or AI of these games,or has anyhting on this gen of consoles or the ps2 matched the level of playability that these games offered. Total control,total freedom,something that back in the mid to late ninties was given to us on a plate by konami,along with true analog 360 degree movement,and 360 degree directional control of passing,shooting and crossing in perfect striker 2 1999 on the n64. Add to this dynamic organic AI that felt alive and makes anything that has come since in the last 10 years feel pedestrian and half dead. Manual elbowing,manual pushing of players,ai that blocks players runs,manual diving,looping headers,rainbow flicks,feints,shimmys,dynamic dribbling and running,the best free-kick and set piece system ever devised,full control of height and direction on penalties,underarm and overarm goalie throws,full directional control of goal kicks,trap button for feet and chest,marseille roulettes,180 turns,aftertouch(backspin and top as well as side),elevation changes via the left thumbstick on crosses by pulling back and forwards on the primary means of control(the left thumbstick),the abilty to pass with the players heads(head tennis),normal and delayed one-twos via the one-two button,accurate responsive cursor changes,placement on shots and shooting as well as tradjectory changes,players that lean backwards and forwards on the ball. The ISS/PERFECT STRIKER series on the n64 had a alchemy that was at work,a precious equililibrium in the AI and the design and the phychology of the game which meant that things didnt happen the same way,and crucially,you didnt behave in the same way in the same situation twice.It was a game that had broken free from its binery roots and origins and came gloriously,to life. - Sweet Disposition
By May 1999, the ISS Pro / Goal Storm franchise was beginning to establish itself as the more respected of the two amongst critics and fans. This saw the release of the first Pro Evolution Soccer title, simply called ISS Pro Evolution Soccer. Revolutionary in the fact it introduced the now famous Master League gaming mode, other popular features included All Star Teams, and for the first time on an ISS title, Club teams. A second, updated edition, ISS Pro Evolution 2 found its way in to the market a couple of years later, and was deemed to be one of the finest soccer games ever to be released on the Playstation console.
With several question marks beginning to rise over the N64, mainly in relation to the choice of cartridges as a game medium, International Superstar Soccer 2000 was the final Konami soccer game on the console. With a very impressive career mode, in which you played the role of a young footballer in RPG style, ISS 2000 turned out to be one of the finest Konami releases to date, and was only overshadowed by its availability on a suffering console.
With the new breed of consoles entering the marketplace (Gamecube, X Box and Playstation 2), and several established soccer franchises beginning to lose funding and support, Konami entered the 2000′s aggressively. The newly designed and developed International Superstar Soccer made its debut on all three high end consoles in 2000 (a year before Konami released the final ISS Pro Evolution Soccer 2 on PSX) The game was praised in quarters, but started to look dated against rival competition. The control mechanics that had been so progressive on the N64 began to feel dated, and sales disappointed.
Two further instalements of the International Superstar Soccer franchise (2 & 3) made there way to market in 2002 and 2003, and again failed to impress. The final of the three went very much back to the original N64 roots in terms of mechanics and tactics. This pleased some stalwarts of the franchise, but ultimately wasn’t enough to save the struggling franchise. Fortunately for Konami, they had a back up plan.
My favourites are still PES 3 and PES 5. The balance was just right with both games.
I remember I always used to sign Rivaldo for my Masters League side and he’d tear teams apart! There was just something about him that enabled me to drift through any defence.I know you always look back on games with nostalgia clouding your memories but there was something so special and fun about PES 3 and 5 that the last few PES titles have had completely missing for me. - Blade1889
Pro Evolution Soccer, the spin off of ISS Pro Evolution Soccer 2, launched in 2001 on both the original Playstation, but most importantly, the PS2. The game, according to critics, felt more like an evolution of the series, and whilst blighted with little kinks and problems, there was a definite franchise in the making. This began the annual release of the PES series, around October / November each year.
My fondest memories of the franchise came at the very beginning of the PES stage. My brother let me play on his PS1 the game that has really since dominated my life. A tough Master League experience and the real beginning of a great age, Club teams only available to those who had championed the Master League. The game in capitulated all there was about the beautiful game, it gave a match day experience that could not be rivalled and a game play system which made the game so hard to put down. Pro evolution Soccer, A thing of beauty, much more than just a game. - Macheda
The next two titles were still Sony exclusive, with PES 4 becoming the first title to release on the X Box. With more licenses in game, and new graphical and technical advances, PES was seen by most to be the elite choice for football gaming. PES 5 and then 6 confirmed this, with many fans petitioning these are still the primary football games available today!
PES 4 and PES 6 were the ones for me. the long range shooting and chips were spot on. Major highlights include Recoba and Crespo for Inter, AC Milan team was awesome, the Arsenal teams were great (important for a gooner like me), and the Master League was just excellent – so much better than current instalments. - RSI
PES 6 also saw a release on the new generation of console, in the form of the X Box 360. Heavily supporting online game play, the actual game itself was a watered down version of its PS2 counterpart, albeit with better graphics.
My favorite is the international chanllenge back in PES6…Which you can take some national team , choose your roster and then take the qualification in your continent to the world cup … that was amazing !! -mahanddeem
With the PS3 launched, 2007 saw Konami change tact, and start using years in their gaming titles for the first time since 1998. PES 2008 was the developers first ‘next gen’ release (although the title still featured on PS2) and was met by heavy criticism from both fans and critics. The smooth flowing game play of PES 6 has disappeared, and was replaced by poor frame rates, missing features and a weaker graphical experience. The online mode was considered an embarassment by nearly all who ventured on, and for the first time in over a decade, Konami began to lose ground to their rivals.
The now regular release of PES on multiple consoles continues, with PES 2009 making its debut on Nintendo Wii, featuring a brand new control and graphical system. The original mechanics and features improved greatly on the PS3 and 360 versions during both 2009 and 2010, but with certain game modes still ommitted and questionable choices made regarding novelty items, even the now established PES 2011 came in for criticism.
In truth, true fans of the franchise would openly admit that for its flaw, PES 2011 is the pinnacle of when Konami have achieved so far. PES 2012 is on the horizon, and early reports have given fans lot to be positive about. As a franchise, in terms of licensing and community support, the game goes from strength to strength, and with passionate and commited communities such as PES Gaming, there is enough for Konami to continue to strive to make Pro Evolution Soccer continually improve in the future!