Review by cleberinthesky

Reviewed: 12/20/12 | Updated: 04/16/13

A basic soccer game

Back in 1985, Nintendo released Soccer for the Family Computer (Famicom) in Japan. In 1987, the game was released in the USA. It was easy to underestimate the game because its technology was definitely old at the time. However, considering that it had no real competitors (the next big soccer game for NES, Goal!, would be released in 1988), the game was well received by the public, and was a common feature in cartridges that offered “4-games-in-1”.

Although simple, the game provides some fun, especially when played against a human opponent. However, lack of content, repetitive gameplay and control issues render this game obsolete not only by today’s standards, but by the standards of late-80’s gaming as well.

It is, however, a very competent example of the simplicity that videogames brought in comparison to computer games. At the time, most sports titles were released to desktops, such as Amiga, MSX and DOS. These games were far more complex when compared to consoles, what, in some ways, was a negative aspect for most people, who preferred the simplicity of console gaming. Of course, this was true for many other game genres, but in the case of sports titles this was particularly true. This was definitely a step in the direction of making soccer games (and sports games in general) become console-based.

Graphics are very basic, even for 1985 standards. In comparison, Super Mario Bros., which was released in the same year, is a lot better. However, the players have some charm in their design. The pitch is also very basic.

The only point that deserves some attention is the cheerleaders that appear during half-time, providing a funny moment for the game.

There is nothing particularly good or bad here also. As most sports games at the time, there is music playing during matches. The compositions are basic, but not annoying.

The crowd cheers when a goal is scored, which is nice. However, sound effects are terrible, and the noise of the players kicking the ball is just that: a noise.

Controls are extremely simple. The directional buttons are used for dribbling, A shoots the ball and B passes it. When in defense, the B button changes the controllable player. And that’s all. There are some tricks to learn, however. The directional buttons also aim at the goal, where an arrow points where the ball will be shot. The idea is to deceive the keeper, sending him to one side and shooting at the other. Eventually a goal is scored. To steal the ball, simply walk towards the opponent and try to get it.

There are problems, however. Players are very slow, especially when dribbling. It takes time to get to your opponent’s goal, especially because passes and shots are very unreliable. It is also difficult to get a loose ball, because the game fails to detect accurately the position of the player in relation to it. It means that it is not uncommon to miss easy ball just because you passed by it.

Basically, the game uses only the most basic rules in soccer. There are no headers, no offsides and no fouls. Each team has only 5 players plus the keeper. There is no tactical variation, and all teams play using what can be considered a 2-1-2 formation.

The game is very poor in options. In the title screen you can select between 1-player and 2-players games. Then you go to the “Selections” screen, where you can choose your team, skill level and duration of the match. There are only 7 teams: USA, GBR, FRA, FRG, BRA, JPN and ESP, which I suppose stand for United States, Great Britain, France, West Germany, Brazil, Japan and Spain. Each team has its own color and the players are very much alike, with the main difference being skin color. There are no differences in players’ stats, so Japan and USA play exactly like Brazil and Germany.

The game offers 5 skill levels. The game is very easy until level 3. In level 4 the CPU starts to play more aggressively, and, in level 5, the game becomes a lot harder, with the CPU team easily stealing your ball. The keeper also becomes a lot tougher to beat.

Replay value gets better when the game is played against a friend. However, when playing against the computer, all you can do is playing a “friendly” match. The lack of tournaments really hurts the game, and most people will spend no more than an hour with it.

The game is somewhat fun, especially when played against a friend. But the replay value is very low, and most people would be done with it in half an hour. It justifies a purchase only for those who are interested in learning more about the early days of soccer video games.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Product Release: Soccer (US, 03/31/87)

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