As mentioned in the review of International Superstar Soccer 2, the battle for supremacy in the football simulation world is won that will run and run. Its Sega that have had the football arcade market locked down since the start of the 90’s with the Virtua Striker series. There was very little competition on the arcades; at the same time the football console war was hotter than ever. With the launch of the Dreamcast Sega introduced this series, with a mixed response. The game had superb graphics, but unfortunately had no long-term appeal. How would Sega reincarnate the title for its first outing on a Nintendo console?
The gameplay is very simple and helps you get into the action. The controls emphasise this point, only three buttons to get to know. B is used for short pass and tackle, A for a long pass and X shoots. All very simple, its good to start with but after you've mastered the basics you will be looking for more advanced moves; there aren’t any! This can be forgiven as it’s a arcade original, however, if Sega wanted to take a chunk out of Konami’s lead in the market they needed to create a title for both beginners and experienced players.
The options are a quick game or a cup of some sort, the extra option is 'Road To International Cup’. This option involves managing a nation four years before the world cup, having to train your team up so they can compete. On the face of it sounds new and novel, but its not, the training consists of a few option screens. The match’s themselves all become a bit similar in style, they usually consist of constant bashing of the B button to tackle. Tackles can be made from what looks like half way across the pitch, this makes the game very stop start as you will be forever fouling the opponent or visa versa. To be honest its just plain boring, playing a human opponent can be fun, but after you have played five minutes you will be wondering why you didn’t buy ISS or scrabble, both are far more fun.
The graphics are perhaps the games saving grace, and is why the game sells, because it looks good in adverts and pictures in magazines. Its not surprising the players look good, the un-adjustable camera is so close you can read the detail on the ball. The stadiums look very nice too, the time of day effects the look as the clouds and sky turn a warm amber colour when the evening sets in. The replays are also a good feature, each goal receives a number, the higher the better the goal. These replays can be saved to show off to your mates, after two saved replays though you realise that the goals you are scoring are all pretty similar.
The sound is perhaps the worst I’ve ever heard, even in comparison to that of Fifa ’97 on the Megadrive. The music sounds like it should be accompanying a Disney love story, it shows that the people that produced the title have little, or no, knowledge of football. The in game sound isn’t much good either, there is no commentary apart from a strong American accent butting in to announce a throwing or goal kick, rubbish.
Life span would be about 1 hour if the 'Road to international cup’ was not included. With that option you could have fun for 5 hours. I say fun, but its only fun in comparison to cutting the lawn. You could well enjoy the game, if you hadn’t played any other football titles. The title will be a few peoples cup of tea, so I suggest hiring it or borrowing it off an unlucky friend.
The game is simply not fun, I felt like I was doing a chore when I turned my Gamecube on. Its was interesting for about 5 minutes, but never ever fun. You will sigh to yourselves when you here the strong American accent shout the games title at you when you’ve inserted and wonder if vacuuming would be more exiting.
Overall I strongly recommend staying away from this game, unless you are bored with either Fifa or ISS and need reassuring that they are good video games unlike Virtua Striker 3. This title shows the beautiful game to be something rather unattractive.
Good-'Road to international cup’, there are alternative games!
Poor gameplay, awful commentary, rubbish presentation, a day max of lifespan, need I continue?