I'm not up on my soccer games circa 1994 so I can't tell you where Mega Man Soccer stands in the period as far as realism and gameplay, but I can compare it to the Downtown High School series from Technos (the River City Ransom games and all the subsequent sports games that came out of it.) Those were sports games that played fast and loose with the rules and incorporated physicality in an amusing way, but usually with some decent gameplay to boot.

I feel like Mega Man Soccer kind of wasted an opportunity here, as it settles for being a solid but mediocre generic soccer game rather than taking full advantage of the whole "robots with theme weapons" thing. Each robot does have a "super shot" based on their power, but they all do the same thing - either freeze or simply explode the first character they touch, and if it is the goalie, then basically it becomes an instant goal.

The problem with Mega Man Soccer really isn't the gameplay, which is actually pretty decent, but the AI. Thanks to lame goalie AI no matter what the match, there are several "sweet spots" on the field you'll soon find which the goalie can never successfully defend shots from, and he also struggles and is easily duped by passing near the net. Basically, once you get these tricks down, you can score almost at will provided you have some of the faster forwards in the game. The computer, on the other hand, is only going to score as many goals as you give it Super Shots. The only other chance it has is on the rare fluke where it snags a rebound while your goalie is on his knees. Otherwise, it'll just lob hopeless time-wasting shots that are easily snatched up by your goalie, and it doesn't play defense or offense all that well in general.

The game also has some odd limitations. There's a mode for single players called Capcom Cup which is styled like a typical Mega Man game - you start as a team of all Mega Mans, who is pretty much middle of the road in all stats, and then as you beat teams composed of the enemies you can add one of them to your roster. Oddly, when you play two-player games with two humans, or an exhibition against the computer, you can only choose a player for each line, rather than individual players for each position (so, if you want Gemini Man as a forward, ALL forwards have to be Gemini Man, all the defensive line would have to be Skull Man or whoever you choose, etc.) This differs from the Capcom Cup mode which lets you put people anywhere you please.

Capcom Cup is actually some fun for the single player as you learn the ropes and add new teammates, but once you learn all the easy tricks to score it just lacks any challenge at all and gets tedious fast (you'll start burying the computer by double-digit scores with no super shots used eventually as a routine matter.) Exhibition is likewise boring due to the total lack of challenge and AI predictability, so the only way you'll get any real mileage out of this one is by having a human bud handy to play with regularly. It's a shame, as I actually would have liked to see a follow-up to this game, maybe on the 32 or 64 bit systems with more flexible team making, a real season mode with stats (name your own crazy robots), better AI, etc.

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