If this is “world soccer,” then count me out.
World Soccer is known as Great Soccer in the U.S. only. Cause America just has to be different.
PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous
RELEASE DATE: 07/19/87 – (JP), 10/1987 – (US, EU)
10/29/88 – (JP – rebundled as Sports Pad Soccer)
“Wait, Dylan, didn’t you already review a soccer game for the Master System?“
Why yes I did, reader with excellent memory. A few months back, I manhandled Great Soccer, one of Sega’s initial forays into sports for the Mark III/UK Master System (not Great Soccer for the US, which is actually World Soccer – oh, the confusion!). The game was bare-bones soccer at its most adequate – no team selection, difficulty options and little else, etc. – but it was far superior to the company’s paltry SG-1000 offering, Champion Soccer. World Soccer is a limited upgrade to Great Soccer that offers teams, a two-player option, horizontal instead of vertical play, and a nagging sense that your hard-earned soccer dollars have been pilfered.
Bunch a googly-eyed ne’er-do-wells…
World Soccer is at least true to its name. Instead of being forced to play as a team of no-names, distinguishable only by their bright shirt colors, you have the option of eight soccer teams from around the globe. Argentina, Brazil, France (?!), England, the US, and so forth, are all represented here. As far as I could tell, the teams don’t have playing styles specific to them, so in theory, a team as banal as the US could beat a team as mighty as Brazil (I wouldn’t if I were you, though – such an upset would be reckless mismanagement of world soccer politics). Once you’ve picked a country to play as and a country to play against, the options end and soccer – such as it is – begins.
In an extremely suspicious play, Brazil scores a goal!
Once you’re on the field, you’ll quickly notice that there’s zero fluidity to any player’s movements, including the computer’s. Imagine taking a little soccer player action figure, putting a ball in front of them, and moving them in short, sharp bursts, like a pawn in a chess game. That’s the soccer in World Soccer. Because every player moves this way, though, the playing field is level. Stealing a ball, passing the ball, and making goals take the same amount of time for both you and your opponent because of the five frames-per-second motion. This doesn’t make it right, but it does make the game fair.
All is right with the universe.
Sega’s Sports Pad supposedly makes World Soccer come alive with freshness, but there’s little discernible difference between playing with the Pad and the regular controls. One might think that the trackball would smooth out the player’s movements, but no. They remain as stilted and frustrating as ever before. So what purpose does the Sports Pad serve in World Soccer? Well, if I had to theorize about some split-second decision made by a random Sega employee almost thirty years ago, I’d say Pad support was included to either a) justify the Pad’s existence in the first place (since this is only one of three games the Pad is compatible with). Or b) to trick consumers disappointed with World Soccer into thinking that the Sports Pad will set the game right. Oh Sega. Why must you fill our heads with lies and our consoles with bad sports games?
This goal has been sponsored by Preparation H.
The Sports Pad doesn’t give World Soccer a reason to exist, but at least the game is mercifully brief. Two 3.5 minute quarters and you’re done. To some, this might seem like limited value, but to those of us who aren’t the biggest soccer fans or who don’t want to deal with Sega’s confusing attempts at soccer, a seven minute game is plenty of time. And if you’re really looking for a reason to play World Soccer more than needs be, there’s always two-player mode and, for some reason, a penalty kick mode where you and the computer alternate shots into each other’s goals. Let no player say that Sega doesn’t give. They just give on their own unusual terms.