Just like other home consoles like Atari 2600 or Intellivision, Nintendo had to include sports titles in its first lineup of games to sell the NES console in United States of America. To 1985, the main football league of that country (known there as soccer), the North American Soccer League, was gone, the children who watched matches from that league were old enough to play videogames of that sport, and were a target for that title. If the popularity of the Football Association can be scarse in USA, that was not a problem south of the Bravo River, or in Europe.
Platform: Nintendo NES
Controller: NES default.
The game provides a horizontal perspective of a football association field, that view was becoming a trend slowly at the time. In this game, every team have six players, counting the goalkeeper.
The virtual footballers are in a quite good size compared with the rest of the field, and the goals are perfectly distinguishable, the ball can travel outside the field. There are no fouls in this game, and it relies too much in passing. They can move freely around all the field, and ussually maintain a good formation to ease the passing, we’ll explain that later in the entry. When the ball goes out the field, there can be throws in and corner kicks, but at the abscense of fouls, the penalty kicks appear only to decide the winner if the match ends with a tie.
The player controls the virtual footballer who has the ball, with the A button shoots to the goal or gives itself a pass, and with the B button gives a pass to another “teammate”, but it’s mandatory to indicate which “teammate” will receive the pass, this is achieved indicating with the pad. Example: if you press up, the pass goes to the “teammate” above in the field. If you press down, the pass will go to the “teammate” located below.
To start a match, you can see the screen to select a team, it’s possible to set the difficult of the AI with 5 possible levels, being 1 the easiest and 5 the hardest, I highly suggest starting with level 1 or 2 if you want a bit more of a challenge. It’s also possible set the duration of a match, I have never played at 45 minutes, always used 15 while playing againts the AI. 30 is good for two human player matches.
The player can choose from 7 teams, although there is no meaningful difference in skill, the colors are diferent, even if the selection of football teams is… a bit… for 1985 is strange, considering one of the teams never played before in a FIFA World Cup, maybe the reason is because is the same country of origin of the console. It’s funny that other of the teams does not exists right now as is:
Some curious notes, like Spain appears with its abreviation appears in spanish, not in english like the others. Japan was not (and still isn’t) a powerhouse in this sport, but the videogame had to be sold there, or like a team from Great Britain as a whole, something that will never happen.
The videogame is simple enough to play, the difficulty level is quite good and the duration of a match is also good. In my hometown, it was one of the first available NES videogames to the public and was quite popular, specially in two player contests. At first, I was totally wiped out by the rivals, but with time I was getting better and at least the matches were closer contests than at first.
Sport Icon designed by Smashicons of FlatIcon licensed by CC 3.0 BY.
Console Icon taken from Retroarch.