World Championship Soccer
Release Date: September 1989
It’s a dry September after the launch of the Genesis, with the only title being World Championship Soccer. Sports games are usually a good bet for a quick playing session. You can sit down for a Test Match, or you can go for the World Championship. There are 24 teams from around the globe for you to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. I’m not sure why these 24 were chosen, as it’s not representative of the 1982 or 1986 World Cup. I decided to go with Brazil as they were rated pretty good and I had no way of knowing how well I’d do.
You begin in a qualifying block with three other teams. The top two teams in each of six blocks make it to the final tournament. Then the four best 3rd place teams also qualify. After choosing your team, you have to set your lineup. Each player has four different statistics rated from 1 to 5. I didn’t read the manual carefully, so didn’t know the stats were for speed, kicking strength, tackling strength, and accuracy, but now you do.
My first game had me give up two goals before I realized my controller wasn’t configured correctly. The A Button kicks toward the goal and shoots when you’re close enough. The direction of the shot can be influenced with the d-pad. The B Button gives a high lobbing pass to a teammate in the direction you press. This can be combined with the A Button to pull off bicycle kicks. The C Button executes a shorter ground pass.
On defense, all you can really do is press the A Button to slide tackle. There are no penalties in the game, so you’re rewarded for playing like a hooligan. You don’t control switching the player you control. I first thought it was rather random, but realized that player selection would update when possession of the ball changed or when the ball moved in and out of the midfield. This was frustrating to get used to. You also automatically switch to the goalie without any warning, which can lead to cheap goals. The computer goal tender is pretty much a prodigy, blocking pretty much everything you kick at him. The goalie’s best friend also stops shots from you far more than you would like. Most of my goals came from lucky breaks on hard angles.
If you tie at the end of 90 game minutes (about 9 minutes real time), it’s off to the penalty kick shoot out. You have five shots at your opponent and they have five against you. You basically have a one in eight chance of picking the right spot, because there’s only a tiny window of time when the ball is kicked to pressing where you want to save. The World Championship consists of seven games, but no passwords or saves are present. If you want to win the title, you better have about 80 minutes. I limped into the tournament after losing my first two games, but then went 4 and 0 to bring the Cup to Brazil!
The player graphics look like they are from Tommy LaSorda. The animations are decent, but the field doesn’t look very good or varied.
The song that plays isn’t anything to write home about.
Playing like a hooligan should sing to me, but the pace is way too frantic, and not being able to switch players at will is criminal.
Once you start attacking and keeping the ball out of your zone, the volume of shots on goal should help you win.
Fun Factor: 2.0
I didn’t like it at first, but it grew on me a little bit. It’s alright for a quick play, but I wouldn’t want it to be my only game.
Overall Grade: 2.0
World Championship Soccer earns a C. It’s not as good as the baseball offering, but you can give it a shot.