Though Nintendo's in-house R&D teams have created some of the best games ever, one area where they've always struggled (for whatever reason) is sports games. So at times they've toyed with shopping around and buying the rights to publish other dev's sports games, as they did here with Technos's Nekketsu Soccer.

World Cup came out on the early side of the pantheon of Kunio games (River City Ransom, Super Dodgeball, etc.) and looks a bit primitive in the frames of animation and the menus and whatnot. I've talked elsewhere about how Technos just pumped too many of these games out too fast to keep the quality up, and I'm guessing the barely lukewarm reception for this one is part of what limited their release in the West despite RCR and Super Dodgeball being two of the bigger hits on the system. Certainly stopped Nintendo from buying the rights to any more of them and publishing themselves.

There's no between-match shopping shenanigans or anything here, as with Super Dodgeball you just pick a team and play through all the other teams on the way to the World Cup. Each team is headed up by a dude who looks vaguely like Riki or Kunio that can run twice as fast as anyone else, and you're stuck controlling them with no ability to swap players. You have a few general strategy options (see screenshot below), but the whole thing is very simplistic and arcadey. Oh, and you can kick the opponents in the nuts.

Regardless of settings, your CPU allies almost never pass to you (though they'll pass over your head to each other), and when they do shoot they often shoot wide of the net. So point scoring is largely on you personally. And here the fatal weakness of all arcadey soccer games rears its head - it's far too easy to juke the goalie out of his shorts. It's worse here than in most games, I blasted poor Cameroon 25-0 the first time I ever picked up the game.

Nintendo seemed to just localize the text to English and publish as-is without making any tweaks. A shame as maybe their experience could have tightened the gameplay up a bit. Then again, looking at their previous soccer game, maybe not. Whatever the case, it's another Kunio game that was a decent concept but would have benefitted greatly from more time in the oven. With Soccer Nintendo seemed to be counting on sales just from having the only soccer game on market; with this one it was probably from having the only one with 4-player support.
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