Last time in APMFVGFH we looked at one of our favourite childhood SNES games here at Pyro On The Pitch, with the delicious colourful glory of 1994’s FIFA International Soccer. We now rewind the clock 4 years before to 1990 and a NES game that shares a similar place in our hearts.
Yes, here we have Nintendo World Cup for the Nintendo Entertainment System, released in 1990 by the video game developer Technōs Japan Corp. Brilliantly, it is a localisation of “Nekketsu High School Dodgeball Club: Soccer” (or “Hot Blooded High School Dodge Ball Club: Soccer Edition”) released for the Family Computer, which was centered around completing high schools rather than international football teams.
The game opens with the slick screen above, featuring the Nintendo World Cup trophy itself. Like last time, the theme music is again iconic to us who remember it from our youth, but even to fans of video game music in general it is worth a listen through the link at the end of the article.
The team select screen is simply white text over the black background, but of course this is NES so it would be a bit much to expect anything more. Lists of countries are one of our favourite things anyway and there are 13 here to choose from. With the 1990 World Cup a month away when the game was released, non-qualifiers France, Mexico and of course Japan are included, while eventual quarter-finalists Czechoslovakia, Ireland and Yugoslavia miss out. Despite being two years away from playing an international as a independent state, Russia are also listed rather that USSR:
The game itself is quite a nice chunky affair, with a whole cast of hilarious characters in the players who all appear ready to start boxing. In fact we must come back some day and do a full photo-essay on every player we can find in the game:
The kits are block colours and as you can imagine are far from accurate. Some fit basic familiar formulas such as orange for the Dutch, blue for Italy and a kind of dark yellow for Brazil (see above), but France wear green and Cameroon are in a bold purple affair (see above). The shirts themselves seem to be in fact vests as no sleeves are visible.
Along with a basic radar and count down timer, the boxes at the bottom of the screen helpfully show your team mates communicating with each other:
As you can see above there is a player laying in discomfort on the grass, clearly having been wiped out in a collision with the bad-ass in the shades clearing the ball. It is appropriate that the players look like they are ready to box, as it is quite a violent game. Eyes regularly bulge disturbingly from heads of victims of crunching challenges, as they fly helplessly into the air:
As far as we remember there is no ref and so no fouls or free kicks. This means that particularly aggressive matches can leave bodies of injured players strewn all about the pitch like a war-zone.
You also may have noticed the ethnic differences of the players, which was quite a step in football game graphics for the team. England – wearing quite a nice navy strip with what actually appears to be red trim – are uniformly white blonde in true Anglo-Saxon fashion:
Another blonde is the woman who appears at half time in nothing but a red bikini. We have no idea what this has to do with football. At the time she probably would have been referred to as a “babe”, but progressively she appears to have ample thighs and hips:
At the end of the match, which as you can see can be won in quite a convincing fashion, your successful squad swaggers smugly across the screen with a couple of them carrying towels (of course if they lose they are dejected). The third player from the right looks furious about something, which considering the scoreline may well have stemmed from a personal slight:
Besides violence, strange reality bending occurrences are also common in the form of super shots. Here one crouching player uses the power of super position to create two balls from one, as a red haired French opponent climbs on his head:
Doubtlessly black arts were employed to create these unnatural abominations…:
Some of which were basically weapons of mass destruction:
That was scary. But more soothing is that the game is played on a beautifully mowed green pitch. It’s not the only option though, as a selection of surfaces are available:
The concrete option creates the impression of some sort of nightmare world devoid of most matter:
The soil pitch contains a number of rocks, adding to the potential for injury:
Lastly, we come to the ultimate aim of the game: to win the Nintendo World Cup of course. The player must beat every other team in a row, with the standard of opposition gradually increasing. But before each round is the real highlight of Nintendo World Cup in the graphic that is used to represent each location. Famous landmarks include Mount Fuji, the Arc de Triomphe, Big Ben, New York City, the Colosseum, and the landscape of Patagonia for Argentina. Cameroon, meanwhile is represented by a couple of huts on the planes, with a stereotypical wild west and cactus scene apparently being the most apt thing available for Mexico.
In fact here we have each screen, apart from Brazil who were the team being played as:
Great stuff, although we’re slightly confused as to why the font is a different colour for the USA game. Having made it to the final and winning, your team is presented with the Nintendo World Cup trophy by a bald man who looks suspiciously similar to the half-time bikini woman. With the amazing little stadium finally being shown, it is also our fist time seeing fans in the background, which is good to get:
After getting the trophy, everybody smiles in anime fashion as the national flag is hoisted and the “president” claps
Considering the Japanese origins of the game, it is not surprising that there are many features of this game that are reminiscent of anime, and which probably wouldn’t have made it into a western game such as the violence and the woman. We end with one last look at the ground as the sun is setting, the stands now deserted and silent, and a lone ball sits reminding us of the epic journey we have come on: