SOCCER / Nintendo / NES

Nintendo's Soccer is a really bad game, but it at least has it within its power to make you laugh.

To begin - one can play solo, as with all Nintendo's first generation sports titles there is a selectable difficulty level of 1 to 5. Setting it to one makes the opposing goalie panic when he sees you coming downfield and run up and down the net, whereas on 5 he mostly blocks shots but sometimes kind of lounges in the corner when he feels he needs a rest. More of the challenge comes from just manipulating your own characters succesfully and getting them headed in the right direction. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. There's also a two-player option that pits you against another player.

You've got a selection of seven teams, but there's no actual player names, and none seems to have a particular advantage over the other. The only difference is in the color of shirts and shorts that they wear. At your disposal is the USA, Great Britain, France, Brazil, Japan, ESP (Espana?), and FRG (I have no goddamned idea. I call them the Frag Masters). Pick your team, and we head out to the very simply drawn field.

Players sort of push the ball forward a bit when they contact it, and then you get to chase it and push it again until you are reasonably close to the goal. When you're close to the ball you can also boot it in the general direction of a downfield teammate, or press the other button to kick it towards the goal when you're in range. Passing seems to be handled automatically and goes to the teammate closest to you, which means at times you can boot it backwards unintentionally and right into the waiting legs of the enemy. On defense, one button switches you to the player closest to the ball while the other wafts a big boot into the air. You gain control of the goalie automatically when your foes are close to the goal and launching a kick at it, but the game doesn't switch the indicator to him or anything so you have to just sort of figure out on your own that you've switched over to him. It's also, due to the generally cruddy graphics, hard to tell when you've lined the goalie up properly to block the ball (they used this same defensive system in Ice Hockey and it sucked just as much there as it does here).

The time whips by (because you're having fun!) and in a short two or three minutes the half is over and ... a horde of cheerleaders rush onto the field and dance spastically? Oh, another great point about this game - after every goal the whole team runs around crazily waving their arms like a bunch of sugared up Special Ed students, and the victorious team does it at the end of the game too.

Needless to say your teammates are idiots, and will not make an attempt to get open or line themselves up for a shot so you're basically on your own for moving the ball downfield and scoring.

I get the feeling Nintendo was just happy to have created anything approaching a virtual game of soccer back in 1984, and wasn't too worried about how this would stand the test of time ... it is disheartening to see them putting up crap like this like it actually deserves to be paid for, though.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video