Plataform: NeoGeo consoles
Controller: Console default controller.
Early 90s, football association is growing in worldwide exposure at a frantic rate, and the battle in the videogame battlefront was a really thoug one.
SNK, creator of succesful videogame titles for arcade, including some sports ones in its catalog for home console videogames, alongside the arcade ones. This title was their entry in the football association market.
Considering that in arcade there was almost no competition at the time, regarding football association titles, the company creates a more than acceptable title putting their efforts in stunning and fluid graphics with a relatively simple control schema, but hard to master.
One of the biggest advantages of this title is its, already mentioned, simple controller schema. It only uses two of the three buttons of the default controller, where one of the buttons is for making long passes or shooting to goal, meanwhile the other is to pass the ball to a closer teammate. You can indicate with the stick the direction of either pass or shot. Ah, the videoplayer controls the virtual footballer who has the ball in its feet.
When defending, one button is used to slide in an effort to steal the ball, while the other one is used to make a shoulder charge. Fortunately, the videogame changes automatically the virtual football to the one closest to the ball, so when playing the videogame for the first time, can be confusing finding which virtual footballer is controlled by the videoplayer when defending.
Don’t forget that when defending, you can commit a foul either sliding or charging, this can get in free kicks, or even, penalty shots.
In a strange, at least to me, decision, the goalkeeper can be controlled only in penalty kicks or when executing a goal kick. Which is interesting, because the AI-controlled goalkeeper is really helpful and does not betray the videoplayer’s trust too often.
The field is randomly selected between normal grass and synthetic one (the latter looks like a squared field), where given the circunstancies, the virtual footballers and the ball con travel slower or faster.
When a matcch ends in a tie, the videoplayer gets the option to choose from paying a new match, or defining the current one in penalty kicks. I recommend the second option, specially if the rival is a really though team.
I find the difficulty quite appropiate, and the graphics are really good for the time. It’s easy to know where to make a pass, and when to shoot to the other goal. Even when the music is limited, the noise from the crowd is funny.
At dispose of the videoplayer, there are 12 national teams in two groups, where it’s needed to defeat all the other teams in the group to advance to the knock-out stage. First semifinals, then a final, where the rivals are the two best teams of the other group. The groups are:
It’s interesting that too many liberties were taken when programming the color kits of the teams. For example, the colors used in the Spain team are closer to the ones used by Portugal.
Of course, depending on the selected team, it can be easier or harder to win and advance in the game. Playing against Brazil or Germany will be really hard, no matter which team you select, and if you select them, it can be a walk in the park. I recommend using either Spain or Netherlands to both familiarize yourself with the game, and at the same time, have a fair challenge when facing the hardest teams.
The videogame was successful enough to justify making sequels for the NeoGeo consoles. However, eventually these sequels surrendered to the dominant franchises of football videogames like FIFA International Soccer or International Superstar Soccer.
Well, writing about this videogame brings me a lot of memories of my high-school/college years. In my hometown there was an arcade alley with a Neogeo with changeable cartridges of sports games for the console. The game was changed according to the season in the year, and all of them were really popular.
I really liked this game, even when I was not able to master it as other sports titles on that console, I was considered a not-so-easy opponent. Of course, that was when I was able to properly control the player change when defending. This control schema, probably too simple by the time, really helped me a lot.
Console Icon taken from Retroarch.