In this second blast from the gaming past, our football gamer dude Michael Fitzgerald went full blown retro and fired out a copy of the 1990 classic “Nintendo World Cup” for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Here's how he got on...
If truth be told, I’ve never personally been a huge fan of the NES as, outside of the big hitters, I think it’s game library is a bit naff. I much prefer the Super Nintendo console that followed it, certainly when it came to the overall games library.
That all being said, Nintendo World Cup is a genuinely fun game to play, although it doesn’t exactly have the depth that you’d find in a modern day FIFA or PES game. Nintendo World Cup gives you a choice of picking from 13 international sides, with the goal being to defeat all the other sides in order to claim the title of Best Team In The World. Rather than having a full 11 v 11 set up, the game instead operates in a 6 v 6, with you controlling just one player on your team with the rest all being controlled by the computer.
Despite only having control of one player, you can order your team mates to either have a shot or pass the ball to you by pressing one of the two buttons on the NES controller, so if someone is in a good shooting range you can make sure they actually take the shot.
At the start of each half you can also give your computer controlled compatriots some instructions, such as whether you want them to man mark or just tackle whoever gets near them as well as whether you want them to play the ball to feet or go on long winding dribbles. This is a nice touch and adds a layer of strategy to proceedings.
Having just two buttons and a d-pad to work with means that the controls are quite simple, but everything you’ll need is there and the game plays pretty smoothly all told. Obviously the NES is nowhere near as powerful as the consoles we have today, which probably explains why it’s just 6 a side, but Technos do a good job in making sure the hardware limitations of the console don’t stop them from putting together a fun kick about.
There are some issues, such as it not really being possible for you to choose who you pass to when there is more than one of your team mates in range, with the game picking one of the players seemingly at random. The best way to score goals is mostly having a shot at the keeper and hoping that he’ll spill it, allowing you to tuck away the rebound. This will usually lead to a mad goal mouth scramble where you or one of your teammates tries to get the ball over the line. It’s frantic stuff but a lot of fun.
On occasion you’ll even be able to pull off a “Super Shot”, which happens when you catch the ball perfectly on the volley or take a certain amount of steps before shooting. Super Shots do exactly what they say on the tin, as the ball will suddenly start moving like it’s been shot out of a cannon, sometimes even knocking the goal keeper completely out of the way before sailing into the net. Thankfully Super Shots are limited to 5 per half, so that limits both sides from spamming them (Although I must confess that whenever I did one it seemed to be by complete accident).
One element of Nintendo World Cup that you won’t tend to see in modern football games is that there are no fouls, which means you can kick the ever loving stuffing out of the opposition to your hearts content with nary a fear of reprimand from the seemingly non-existent referee (Maybe it’s the referee from the England Vs Cameroon game in the 2019 Women’s World Cup?).
Eventually if you do enough of a number on the opposing players you can knock them clean out and they won’t play any more part in the game until a goal is scored or the half ends. Humorously, even if a player is taking a nap on the pitch his team mates will still sometimes try to pass to him.
Sadly the game is not officially licensed by FIFA, meaning that the players all have fake names and don’t even have the correct colour kits. As a result, Cameroon will be playing in purple as opposed to their usual green, red and yellow whilst France have gone from being Les Bleus to being Les Verts. Whilst you wouldn’t expect players to have their real names, it would still be nice to see the kits actually resemble what they should do in real life.
Overall Nintendo World Cup is fun to play but it’s also quite a basic arcade kick about. For the time it was released though it’s a decent stab at some computerised footballing fun and I’d happily give it a thumbs up.
You can follow Mickey on Twitter via @mikelovejoyfitz.