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Title: Tecmo World Cup Soccer
Rom Player: NESticle
Reviewer: FatSatan

Synopsis: Ah, soccer. Not the most popular of sports in the US, but then again, you guys DO suck at it. Haha. Nevertheless, it's the sport that unites Europe's countries - in its blood hatred of each other - and lately, provides additional amusement since stuck-up millionaires get their ass handed to them on the field by bottom class factory workers from some backwater country that can't afford shoes. What was I talking about again? Right, World Cup. One of Tecmo's games where they used a certain style of characters with huge heads, stubby limbs and angry glares. There was something very loveable about these characters, which were used in World Cup, River City Ransom, Rikkikunio, Super Dodgeball and if I'm forgetting any I'd like to hear about it.

The game is surprisingly well set up. Once you start playing, you can pick from a list of various countries, including the US and my own Holland. There's subtle differences to each country, which I'll go into later on. With your country selected, you can start positioning yourself and your team members. Instead of having eleven players in your team like in real soccer, you can only position six here out of eight team members provided. Same as with selecting a country, each team member has different attributes in speed, resilience and more invisible qualities. Though the game creators provide you with different player (first) names for each country, the order, faces and abilities of the players remain the same. Unlike most soccer games, which allow you to switch to the person in your team that's closest to the ball, you pick one character in World Cup and stick with it. Instead, you can give orders to other team members whenever they have the ball or are close to an enemy with the ball. By pressing the buttons for pass/tackle or shoot/slide, you can make them perform those actions on your command. It is possible to have a friend join you in your team, but since player 2 can't give orders, it can make the game less interesting for them.

With players picked and positioned, you can select a play strategy that largely dominates how your team members act. Do you want your goal keeper to stay in his place, or do you want to risk him leaving the goal unguarded while joining in the game? Do you want your players to shoot for the enemy goal when they have the chance, or first pass the ball back to you? These settings can be changed before each match and during half time, so you're not stuck with it for the rest of the game.

As the match begins, you'll notice something odd - there's no referee on the field anywhere. This is where Tecmo's creativity comes into play. Most of the established rules of soccer have been nixed; what remains are goal kicks, corner kicks and throw-outs. While you're in control of the ball, you can use the A and B buttons to either pass or shoot, directing your shots with the arrow pad. The moment the enemy gets the ball, however, A and B change to tackle and slide. That means you can kick or smack any of the enemy team members you come across, and go unpunished.

And this is really the great attraction to the game. An enemy that is tackled, taken down or (and this is probably the biggest humiliation) gets the ball shot into them, produces a hearty "blam", and falls to the grass with great big googly eyes of pain. If taking enough abuse, a player may fall down and not stand up anymore until a point is scored. But they remain weak, which means that until half time, any hit they take causes them to fall unconscious again. Against the less difficult opponents, the object of the game soon becomes to just knock out their entire team.

Other fun can be had with the super shots. These can be performed in several ways: catching a passed ball in a somersaulting kick with A+B, hitting that ball with a headbutt by pressing A+B and the arrow pad, or by somehow powering up while running and performing a regular shot (the manual is pretty cryptic about this). Nearly every team has a different type of supershot. Some zigzag up and down, others fly slow, some spin backwards and then make right for the goal. Hilarity ensues when a supershot hits any players along the way, because it causes them to be launched several miles into the air.

Though there's no visible stats for player or country abilities, the differences can be felt. Some countries have faster running players, others are so resilient against tackles that they often cause tackling players to be hurt themselves. The individual players have certain skills and weaknesses too, requiring you to experiment with your player positioning to see who makes the best goalie, who you want defending the back field, who you want accompanying you in front and of course who you want to play as yourself.

Though the regular tournament mode can be a bit boring for two players, the one-on-one play mode makes up for that. The choice in countries is limited in this one, but instead you get a choice in various field types that influence play. Concrete causes the characters to fall unconscious faster. Ice leads to fast and long slides and causes enemies that are knocked down to slide off the field. The dirt field is full of small rocks that make your players trip when they walk over them. Of course, it's mostly fun to try and knock each other on the ground.

All in all, Tecmo has managed to make another gratifying and original sports game in World Cup. Even if soccer seems like the greatest waste of time to you, you might enjoy the savage tackling and cartoony violence that World Cup allows. The minutes-lasting matches may seem boring against easier opponents, but near the end you'll probably not even notice as you try to keep ahead in the score.

Best Cheats: Nothing Entered

Game Play: 8
Graphics: 7
Music/Sound: 8
Originality: 8
Overall Rating: 8

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