Aesthetically Pleasing Moments From Video Game Football History #9

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:

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Aesthetically Pleasing Moments From Video Game Football History #8

In our previous edition of the snappily titled APMFVGFH series, we saw a virtual naked pitch invader and accompaning copper that in our opinion was one of THE seminal moments in football video game history. But now we have a look at an absolute genuine classic, and for once recommend clicking here for the accompanying theme music to play along as you read; preferably on headphones after having just smoked, as it is one of the funkiest things of all time.

That’s right, the above multi-flagged “SOCCER” can only mean EA Sports’ FIFA International Soccer for the Super Nintendo, released in 1993.

After insertion of the game cartridge, and the unforgettable “E..A..Sports. It’s in the game” graphics and audio tag (mind-blowing for the time), the SOCCER text appears along with one of the smoothest jams ever heard in a video game (we get hints of The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and some other “Madchester” influences). A collage of national flags – that contains a suspicious amount of Canadian ones – floats within the text, before the letters flash into solid gold pieces and are joined by the other details scrolling on front of an immaculate pitch:

 

With that theme music playing alongside, it is goosebump inducing.

The Canadian flags are not actually a coincidence, as the game was developed by EA Canada. The use of the word “soccer” is a further indicator of the game’s North American origin, however considering the vivid colours, beautiful graphics and iconic music, all is forgiven.

Throughout the screens that follow, a very pleasing blue-tone EA Sports and ball motif flows through the background:

 

 

 

 

 

 

After progressing through the main menu – with choices for Exhibition, Tournament, League, Playoffs, Options, and Restore – the team select screen is next. Only countries are available to play as, since this is “International” soccer after all. More lovely flags and colours are on show, and Germany are looking strong this year, eh?:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Via our Facebook page we recently pondered on the inclusion of Democratic Republic of Congo. At least that’s what we remembered. Upon review of a video of the available teams, it seems that DR Congo were not actually in the game, although this could have been a different port. Perhaps this has was a case of mixed-memory, but if anyone knows for sure, please get in touch.

Going to the in-game match itself, the lush perfectly mowed grass is a thing of beauty, along with the classic flag and score graphics. Appropriately we have Canada, playing here in an all-red strip against Germany in their usual white and black. All clear on the kit front anyway:

Of course our favourite thing is always the virtual crowd and this one is excellent, even if they’re sitting rather than standing in a terrace (although some do stand up). A German shot from outside the box gone wide gives us a good look at those behind the goal, with the overly-positive reaction to the missed effort suggesting they are Canadian fans:

A ball gone for a throw-in also gives us good vantage of all sorts of characters in attendance. Look out for the kids standing on their seats and the pensive guy in the white shirt in the first row. The stairs is also great:

Another of the game’s best moments is the Half Time Report, which takes place high in the back of the stadium and features plenty of vintage ’90s North American youth:

Lastly, we come to the goal celebration graphics. They appear after the goal scorer has ran to the touchline and vary for each goal scored, getting progressively rarer the more that go in. Also note the absolutely distraught German defender pounding the ground in the penalty box, and as with all in the game, the goalscorer John Logan is not a real player in case you were wondering:

And that’s it for this installment, where we have enjoyed looking back at what was one of the first true great football video games, both in aesthetic and in fact gameplay. Unfortunately not pictured is one of the best features, where one could score by blocking the goalkeeper’s kick-outs.

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Aesthetically Pleasing Moments From Video Game Football History #7

Welcome back to the feature with the most annoyingly long, but obviously necessary series-title in retro football blog history. Probably not in video game history though. What is for sure is that gameplay means zilch here. Last time, you may remember some lush screens, lush graphics, and some chillingly unrealistic kit configurations that were possibly the result of an in-game alternate timeline dystopia situation.

But now we’re going to revisit a gentler and slightly less lush time, and the very first game we featured in this series, Tecmo’s European Championship 1992 for PC-DOS. In APMFVGFH#1 we had a look at the team-select screen with it’s handsome array of 16bit flags and kits, but since APMFVGFH has evolved since then, the game is definitely worthy of another look as it has a lot more old school goodness to offer.

The game opens with the delicious, classic title screen above that just drips DOS. Blue and green SHALL be seen! And while we referred to this as a gentler time compared to Champions World Class Soccer’s future hell-realm (I would rather die than see Italy play in green, white and red), the “grey void” of the would-be terraces and soulless mechanical landscape surrounding the stadium seems to indicate a similarly worrisome time in simanity’s alter-history.

Then comes another intro screen, definitely gif-worthy, with flags (always a plus) scrolling along the top and the Tecmo rabbit logo, which conveniently basically doubled up as the beloved and legendary European Championship rabbit mascot, the greatest mascot of all time in any discipline. The rabbit had debuted at Euro ’88 and was called Berni by the Germans, before being blatantly plagiarised by the Swedes who cunningly renamed him “Rabbit” to cover their tracks.

Next, as we already covered team-select in the aforementioned episode, we are going straight to pitchside and a look at the teams coming out, in this case Germany and England:

There is a lot to love here with player’s tunnel, athletics track, vibrant crowd, and Germany in their green away shirts (a POTP favourite), as well as cheerleaders which is not so realistic or necessary, but the effort is there. The fact that Tecmo is a Japanese company lets them away with it in our eyes, but photographers and officials in place of the cheerleaders could have been a welcome improvement.

Edit: At least that’s what we thought until we were smartened up by blog reader Lucas, who is fast becoming a invaluable fact checking resource:

About the cheerleaders part, it wasn’t made up by Tecmo. From what i remember, in UEFA EURO 1992 matches in Sweden (at the time when the game was developed), before the kick-off, there were two groups of cheerleaders on each side of the tunnel when the players were entering in the pitch. (as you can see from this photo from the final between Denmark and Germany in Gothenburg)

Thank Lucas, once again we gladly eat humble pie with this correction and as always welcome any and all contributions for stuff we may have missed.

It is now half-time and we have a lovely touch that I really appreciated, as a marching band parades across the pitch playing a military like tune. The attention to detail is excellent with smart red and yellow uniforms and simulated trumpets, flutes, tuba, triangle and, of course, the band leader with their baton, all on show.

Of course as always where possible, we must highlight the virtual crowd and we get a great shot of them down near one of the corners, patiently awaiting the arrival of the players (it’s a different match). As video game football crowds go, it really is a beauty:

And now for the pièce de résistance, one of the greatest things ever placed in a video game. I have long been a campaigner (as in I enthusiastically describe it’s potential with friends and loved ones) for the inclusion of VERY occasional fan rioting interrupting video game football matches. Rarer still, sometimes matches would have to be abandoned due to said trouble, merely for the sake of realism.

While we don’t quite have a riot, or any real “trouble”, there is an instance of, if not hooliganism, definite supporter disobedience with an immediate police response required. That is because at times in this game when a throw-in is being taken, a supporter breaks from the terraces and invades the pitch, fully nude, shortly thereafter chased by an irate policeman.

As you can see, the streaker boasts an impressive pubic region and appears to be a Caucasian male of athletic build. The players and officials don’t seem to care too much, barely taking notice, as in 1992 supporter encroachments were as normal and accepted as your standard, old pyro on the pitch. Indeed the inclusion of the easter egg proves the expectation at the time for some sort of incident involving fans at any given game.

Just for kicks, we can make it appear there is in fact a full firm of angry, naked hooligans pouring out from their enclosure:

As this edition of APMFVGFH comes to a close (which considering the above could really have been covered as a special, virtual edition of People On The Pitch), we will leave you with these shocking scenes, the disgraceful example of which perhaps being the ultimate childhood impetus for many of today’s football thugs. Amazingly we are not quite done reviewing European Championship 1992’s aesthetically pleasing moments, of which there are clearly many, but the rest will have to wait for another aesthetically pleasing day.

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