Back in the rose-tinted days of the 1990’s, when the sun was always shining and flowers blomed all year round, I had a Super Nintendo Entertainment System, probably more commonly known as a SNES. Some of the best games of all time were on this system; Super Mario World, Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, and many, many more.
It’s soccer, but virtual I remember playing this one game, one that I played quite a lot, Virtual Soccer. As the name implies, it’s a football game, but one like no other. In a traditional football game, the gameplay attempts to emulate the play of a game of football. You can pass, shoot, tackle and run with the ball, just as if you were playing a real game.
Virtual Soccer has the basics, but they’re so disjointed and awkward that the only thing reminding you that you’re playing football is the hypnotically green pitch.
Tackling is form of gambling, with it being apparently a 50% chance that the tackle will fail, ending in a horrible skid and the player being on the ground for several seconds. If you do make a successful tackle, don’t think it’s over yet, as most of the time your player runs into the player they just tackled, losing the ball again with a curious grunting sound.
Passing isn’t much better, mostly due to the fact that the speed of a passed ball is a lot slower than a running player. Meaning that most passes end up behind their target and are usually lost entirely. Shooting the ball can only be done in 8 different directions, which makes hitting the net a real pain.
By far the worst part of the game is the AI. Lets start first with your own team, who have a habit of running between the player you’re controlling and the goal you’re trying to shoot at. For some reason they don’t like to ‘activate’ (become controllable) until the ball is so close that it’s too late to do anything with it, contributing to the extraordinary amount of lost passes.
The opposition AI is a true wonder. A mixture of stupidly fast reaction times and inhuman precision makes any set piece an instant turnover as they seem to be able to run at your player and tackle before you can even take the freekick. Goalkeepers will stop anything that comes towards them, regardless of which direction they are facing, meaning that if you want to score, you have to drag them away from the net be going close, then shoot around them. A feat, which due to the 8 directions you can shoot, is only possible from 2 locations on the pitch.
Despite all of these game breaking problems, I can’t seem to stop playing. Maybe it’s the sadist in me, maybe it’s the amazing feeling whenever something impossible like scoring a goal happens. All I know is that this game is awful, yet, forget FIFA, I’d rather play this.