One day, Champion Soccer… pow! Straight to the garbage can!
PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous
RELEASE DATE: 1984
Perhaps you have an obsession with football/soccer. You’ve watched every single game in the 2014 World Cup, even the ones that haven’t aired yet. Twice. You’ve memorized every player name on every team. In the last week, you went to work in a soccer uniform and were promptly fired for not changing into proper work attire. As you were dragged off the premises by security, you thought to yourself, “At least I have soccer. Soccer understands me.” You turn to your collection of soccer-themed goods for solace. Amidst the signed soccer balls, the stuffed dolls, the stacks of FIFA games, you find Champion Soccer, an old Japanese video game with a sweet soccer-fueled cover. You plug it in and play. Within moments, tears of anger run down your face. Champion Soccer is a betrayal of the game you love, an unplayable whirlwind of chaotic nonsense, and a really crappy way to end your already crappy day.
Sid and Marty Krofft were the lead character designers on Champion Soccer, apparently.
Champion Soccer is an early sports game, so the requirements to play are minimal. You won’t choose different teams or perform fancy acrobatics. Instead, you’ll attempt to guide the ball around the soccer field with a group of erratic Muppet soldiers. Running with the ball isn’t difficult, per say, but the choppy player movements make the in-game action hard to discern. Imagine poorly-rendered stop-motion that your eyes can’t focus on without considerable effort. The opposing team runs faster than your team, as well, so even if you grab the ball away from them, they’ll always manage to take it back.
Both teams also get into what I call “kicking ruts.” One team kicks the ball high across the field, then the other team, then back and forth until you allow the computer to start running with the ball. Scoring a goal is impossible because the computer will never let you get that far, even on the Amateur difficulty level. The computer’s not overly cheap, they’re just aggressive, and your players aren’t allowed to match their levels of aggression. “What’s going on?” and “Why am I not allowed to score?” are two questions that should never be asked during any sports game. Champion Soccer not only raises said questions, but leaves them unanswered. Sega at their laziest.