Saturday 21 November 2015

Tecmo Cup Soccer Game (NES review)

Developer: Tecmo
Publisher: Tecmo
Released: 1992

Tecmo Cup Soccer Game is a heavily reworked version of Captain Tsubasa that appeared on the Famicom in 1988.

There's two tournaments and your objective is to win the World Cup. This isn't your average soccer game as it plays more like an RPG with levelling up and no focus on reactions. Instead each match is portrayed by animated graphics with the occasional command prompt. On offense your options include Pass, Shoot and Dribble and choosing the latter allows you to run while using the map as a pitch reference. Each player has individual stats that affect how well they perform making strategy vitally important. It's also crucial to keep an eye on their GUTS metre as this decreases each time you use them. The gameplay is almost like a card game where you continually monitor the situation and use the best player for the given scenario. It's thrilling when you manage to outsmart the computer and scoring a goal is rewarding. The graphics are impressive and do a great job of depicting the action and keeping things exciting. Where the game falls down is on defense as you have barely any control. Most of the time you watch helplessly as the CPU dribbles freely towards your goal while all your defenders seemingly have a snooze! I really would have liked to control a player on the map as instead you end up praying that the game decides to place one of your team-mates in the attackers path. When this happens you can choose to Mark, Tackle, Cut (steal a pass) or Wait; if an attacker shoots you use the goalkeeper to Punch or Catch. This all works fine but it's not very engaging and quickly gets boring. There's a password system to continue but it's convoluted and consists of 30 characters and symbols!

Tecmo Cup Soccer Game is an ambitious take on the sport and it's unlike any other version of 'the beautiful game' I've played. While the defensive side is lacklustre there's still a lot to love about the offensive options and the sheer amount of strategy involved can be extremely addictive with tons of subtlety to keep you occupied.

Random trivia: A similar game called Tecmo Cup Football Game was due to be released on the Sega Mega Drive in 1993 but was ultimately cancelled.

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