For a long time there has been a huge shortage of any video games for rugby, nevermind any good ones. For years rugby fans have been left disappointed and downright appalled by the poor quality of the few games that do come out.
However, this all may be about to change with the release of not one, but TWO rugby computer games this autumn. From HB Studios, makers of Rugby ’08 and Rugby World Cup ’11, we have Rugby ’15, and for those more into the managerial side of the game, Pro Rugby Manager 2015 from 505 Games and Cyanide.
With the release of these two games imminent, we thought now would be a good time to take a look back at the Top Rugby Union Computer Games ever released…
1. Jonah Lomu Rugby (PC, PlayStation One, Sega Saturn) The consoles that this game was available for show just how long we have had to wait for a good rugby computer game! Developed by Codemasters, published by Rage Software and released all the way back in 1997, the graphics for a rugby game were far superior to anything seen before.
Featuring commentary from Bill Beaumont and the late Bill McLaren, this game is still the benchmark for most rugby fans. The game also included “Team Lomu” which was a team with 15 Jonah Lomu’s, a terrifying prospect to be up against in the game!
Positives – immensely playable
Negatives – some players had a lethal hand off which, when engaged at the correct angle, was un-tackleable.
2. Rugby World Cup 2011 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Anticipation for this game was high as no rugby game had been released since Rugby ‘08. Produced by HB Studios under the EA Sports label, the game was released in September 2011 just in time for the kick off of the RWC 2011 in New Zealand. The producers were helped along by The Rugby Forum to bring an extra understanding of what the rugby public was looking for in a video game.
The game was lauded for being the most accurate depiction of rugby yet but was criticised for not having enough updates from Rugby ‘08 as well as being limited in terms of gameplay and content. Only a fraction of the world’s teams and stadia were officially licensed which certainly took away from the overall feel.
Positives – as close to rugby union as it has got!
Negatives – the graphics let this game down compared to other popular sports games of the time.
3. Adidas Rugby Last Man Standing (Online)
When the British & Irish Lions toured New Zealand in 2005, Adidas Rugby came up with the Last Man Standing advertising campaign. It involved players from both teams taking part in what, up here in the Northern Hemisphere, we would call British Bulldogs!
This online game was basic top view stuff - the game involved choosing a player from one team and tearing through a park all whilst trying to avoid barking dogs, puddles of mud and of course hoards of Lions and All Blacks trying to demolish you…we are pretty sure there was a “boost” button as well!
Unfortunately we can find no remants of the game anywhere in the world of Google but thankfully the video is still available on YouTube which should invoke some memories as it features some legendary players who adorned the rugby shirts on both sides during that eventful tour.
Positives – great playability, addictive
Negatives – bloody hard to complete and wrists screaming in agony from using the keyboard as a controller.
4. Flick Nations Rugby (iOS, Android)
This classic kicking game wasn’t the first of it’s kind but was the first to make such good use of touch screen through iOS software on mobile phones. Pretty simple stuff - take a swipe at the screen and the ball is launched through the uprights.
Easy enough to start with when close in to the posts but the game progresses with more distance and a realistic wind mode to add to the challenge. Single player modes of 'Streak' and 'Mad Minute were more than enough to keep you entertained in those spare wee minutes.
Positives – simple, pure fun.
Negatives – enough action to keep you entertained for a few days but not enough for a lasting relationship – it is just place kicking after all.
5. Pro Rugby Manager (PC) If you thought there was a dearth of video games for rugby, then managerial style games are even less infrequent. Football Manager took off around the turn of the millennium, but it took until late 2006 until we had a rugby equivalent. Pro Rugby Manger came out after much anticipation and filled the desire to be Clive Woodward quite successfully.
For the first time you could manage all the aspects of a professional rugby team – from negotiating the players' contracts to setting up of the actual in-game strategies. Then take them on the field and decide team tactics and watch your decisions come to life. Unfortunately though it could never quite measure up to it’s bigger, more detailed Footballing big brother.
Positives – very addictive.
Negatives – didn’t measure up to Football Manager games of the era.
A bit of a throw back on many instances which just goes to show how infrequently games are released for our beloved sport. With Pro Rugby Manager 2015 and Rugby 15 out soon we shall certainly be spoiled for a shortwhile. However, supposedly Rugby 15 will become an annual release just like it’s Fifa cousin – we can only hope so!
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