Ryan Play’s the World Cup: Part One – Italia 90 & USA 94

By Ryan Howden

So I love the World Cup, possibly more than any other sporting event. It doesn’t come without its hardship though especially as an England fan, but also being a gamer I remember the World Cup games being very average, with them recently just seeming to be a limited version of the previous years FIFA.

So with it being World Cup time, and having to serve penance for something, I thought I’d look back at the video games that have been made for previous tournaments, I went as far back as consoles I own and games I could get hold of allowed. So I begin with the tournament from the year of my birth, Italia 90.

World Cup Italia 90′ – Sega Master System (1990)


Now the first thing I notice on starting up this game is that it has some of the best jaw clenchingly bad retro game music.

Can’t you just feel the Italian influence 

The modes are pretty simple with a ‘World Cup’ tournament mode, a ‘Test Match’ (eg exhibition/friendly) and a penalty kick contest.

I decided to try my luck in the World Cup with England. Now this game does not mess around, there’s none of this management rubbish like choosing a team or setting tactics, no its pick a team and boom first match.
Now my England had their first game with Egypt. As the team of identical men lined up in the famous England 2-1-2-2 formation, because its 8 a side in this world cup apparently.

The game with Egypt finished 0-0 mainly because the keepers in this game take up a third of the goal and don’t let anything past them. Next was Holland, and the Dutch won 1-0 as my fight with the throwing controls (you can’t aim at a player, just one of three directions, slightly left, dead centre or slightly right) leads to my keeper throwing it straight to a Dutch striker 3 times in a row, the third time he finally puts it in the back of the net.

The gameplay reminds me alot of the early American Football games like Tecmo Bowl, the runs are mainly in a straight line with passing being basic forward and side to side moves. The tackling also consists mainly of running into other players to take the ball, with the designated tackle button being about as much use at its job as Micheal Ball.

The last group game was against the Irish. England lose 2-0 eliminating us from the tournament without scoring a single goal, ostracised by the nation like Trevor Benjamin I start my long wander into the football wilderness .

This game is a good base to build on, but frustrating controls and limited options work against it, with it lacking any real charm.

Rating: A Gareth Southgate penalty/10

World Cup USA 94 -SNES (1994)


Ahh yeah Super Nintendo! This is going to be good…wait what do you mean England aren’t in this….NEXT!

Rating: A Davide Gualtieri goal/10

I did actually have a quick play with this game and found it surprisingly detailed, it has a simple tactics engine and you can choose your starting line up now.

problem though is that all the menus are done with the dog mascot and not words, and its quite hard to tell what poochie is trying to represent, making menu navigation a chore.

After 10 minutes I finally worked out how to start a game and found a pretty serviceable upgrade from its predecessor. The players have alot more animation to them and there are some nice touches like the coin toss and the referee and linesman having animated pictures, meaning its is clear what decisions have been made.

The upgraded system also means you can aim your throws and more passing options are available.

A good update on 90 but the SNES controller was not build with football games in mind, again meaning the controls can sometimes be frustrating.


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