World Championship Soccer (07/29/1989)

Today’s entry will be a little brief, simply because there’s just not that much to say about yet another mediocre sports game. Unfortunately, World Championship Soccer is just that. However, in the interest of fairness I have recruited friend of the Pre-Sonic Genesis Institute of Retro Theory and all around lady expert Mary Barnes to play a match in the included two player mode, where she single-handedly dealt a blow for the fairer sex that will be spoken of for decades to come by trouncing me in a fiercely fought 5-4 victory of her beloved Scotland against my spiritual homeland of Mexico. Below are our observations, hers marked in a flowery and adorable purple with mine in the usual stern authoritarian black you’ve come to love from this website.

-There’s a fair selection of teams to chose from, with surprisingly little overlap between available teams and those that actually competed in the 1990 World Cup. It should go without saying that any colors or names shared with real life teams and players are little more than a happy coincidence, and due to rather odd uses of the Mega Drive’s 61 color display every player looks remarkably hispanic.

-There are stats for each player and generally more options for each position than there are slots to fill. As best as I can tell, you can’t substitute players at any point in the game. Unlike Tommy Lasorda Baseball, each of the stats come close to making sense, although the actual effect they have on the outcome of the game seems minimal at best.
-The game again defaults to Sega’s beloved aversion to an isometric view. However, it actually looks pretty decent here, and the same view on a larger scale became one of the most beloved icons of the Sensible Soccer series, which went on to define user expectations for the genre. This is actually the right decision, as the micro scale used in this game leads to more than a few blind passes as you try to make sense of the incomprehensible field radar.

-The graphics are incredibly muddy and quite possibly represent the most egregious example yet of wasted potential. However, the weirdly still cutscenes on a scored goal or other situations really use the most of the palette available, even if the stillness of the scenes really draws you out of the experience. At least the ball heading towards the camera “3d” effect from Tommy Lasorda makes a triumphant return.  While I am perhaps in desperate need of a visit to the optometrist, the dark and muddy graphics were an impediment for all involved.  I had trouble distinguishing my dark blue Scots from the dark green grass – though thankfully, CJ’s bright green Mexicans were a little more distinctive.  The camera was at the very least responsive, even if the ball and players sometimes made lightspeed jumps across the pitch.

-The actual gameplay makes a distressing amount of sense. Both Mary and I genuinely enjoyed the match we played, which  simulated 90 minutes of footballing in roughly 20. If there are penalties or cards, we sure didn’t run across any despite the game literally devolving into four in-game minutes of chain tackles that left the entire midfield on their backs. The game is obviously very high scoring but this isn’t entirely a negative aspect of a game this abstract. By and large, Mary and I agree that World Championship Soccer manages to nail the euphoria of a well executed play that most decades-old sports games seem to lack. While I concur with CJ’s positive opinion of World Championship Soccer I can’t really chalk it up to the thrill of executing successful plays. I brought victory to the homeland by holding down the up button and mashing on the pass button, with a tackle thrown in here or there. There were some limited directional controls, but I never bothered to use them and my game didn’t suffer for it. It was a fun little diversion in the name of a novelty retro gaming blog that will surely one day be an important entry in the Pre-Sonic Genesis Institute of Retro Theory, but I can’t say I’d ever want to pick up WCS again.

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One Response to World Championship Soccer (07/29/1989)

  1. Sean697 says:

    This could actually be a fun two player game. It was I suppose a passable soccer game. That you gave that much review space to this is remarkable to me and shows dedication. I think at the time the most memorable thing about this game was the 16 bit hi-res action shots like when you got a goal or a corner kick that were all the rage with the first generation Genesis sports games (You know like the animated dunks on Pat Riley basketball.) Once 16 bit systems were common it pretty much made this game uninteresting. Oh and there was a very cool Goal speech sample in the game I thought too.

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