One of the coolest things about modern gaming, and specifically the continual expansion of online and mobile gaming, is that there are a lot of themes and concepts that might not otherwise see the light of day. This is true across a lot of different genres (let’s just say Angry Birds never would have been a game, let alone a wildly successful movie, if not for online and mobile gaming), but it’s particularly apparent with regard to sports. Console titles are expensive to produce and market, and thus we pretty much only see major sports with mass appeal turned into console experiences: FIFA, the NBA 2k series, Madden, etc. But through online flash games, mobile apps, and the casino industry as it exists on the Internet, titles based on more obscure sports have become pretty common.
In some cases, these games have been around for some time. For instance, AGame.com hosts some of the Internet’s most popular flash games, including “Dodgeball 2,” a simple but enjoyable arcade experience based on the 2004 film “Dodgeball.” It brings a gym class game that some would consider a fringe sport to life on your computer screen, which actually makes it feel competitive in the same way a larger, more conventional sports game might.
Elsewhere online, the variety of gaming options at Gala Bingo has come to include an homage to one of the most popular sports out there that might be considered “obscure” (in that it doesn’t get round-the-clock television coverage). Horse racing interests countless people around the world and may even appeal in particular to the audience for this site, which primarily offers real-money bingo options. And the game, which is actually new to the site, presents an arcade slot machine with various bonus features that have to do with competitive horse racing.
But it’s mobile app stores that provide the biggest outlet for gamers who want to enjoy experiences based on the more obscure sports. This means anything from table tennis to team handball, and some would count apps that incorporate billiards and jousting! Rest assured, there are options for each of these sports. But of all the obscure (or semi-obscure) sports games you can find in app stores, the recently released Aussie Rules Hero is one of the most interesting.
At one point after its release, it was ranked as the number-one sports game in the iOS app store. And with an iTunes Store description of “the Aussie Rules game that probably should have been made in the ’80s,” this game perfectly captures the spirit of mobile gaming. There’s been a widespread movement toward 8-bit or 16-bit designs reminiscent of the earlier days of arcade gaming, and we’ve seen it showcased by numerous apps dealing with more mainstream sports. This game incorporates the same concept for Aussie Rules Football, and specifically for goal kicking.
Is it simple? Absolutely. Your only job is to aim with a moving target behind the distant goal posts and tap the screen to kick, keeping an eye on a timer along with a wind speed and direction gauge. There’s really not much more to it. But as is often the case with games that look this simple on the surface, you just can’t help getting hooked. Through the ability to unlock new “heads” (third-person views of the character you’re kicking with), master new difficultly levels, and work through various specific challenges, you’ll find you can get attached to this game, whether or not you’re an actual fan of Aussie Rules Football.
And it’s just the latest of a growing number of examples that prove obscure sports can thrive on smaller gaming platforms. Like flash dodgeball games, casino horse racing experiences, and many other apps before it, this game feels right at home.
**Maddy Franklin is a freelance writer with roots in London but who recently moved to New York.