Friday, September 22, 2006

Worldwide Soccer (Victory Goal)

Worldwide Soccer was one of the launch games for Sega's Saturn back in the summer of 1995. The Saturn launch was pretty lousy overall, aside from Panzer Dragoon, which was excellent enough to make me trade in all my old consoles and games for one.

I'm not sure if that was the wise choice, since by then all the hype and attention was squarely on Sony's Playstation. Saturn was practically considered stillborn, an impression that only changed in 1996 with the one-two-three punch of Virtua Fighter 2, Sega Rally, and Virtua Cop. Even then, it was only a temporary reprieve before everyone went back to PSX.

This meant a lot of really fun Saturn games were completely overlooked. In retrospect, the early Saturn games weren't necessarily bad, but they were clearly victim's of Sega's terrible decision to rush the hardware out the door three months early.

The only real complaint I ever had with Worldwide Soccer was its name. It was originally titled Victory Goal in Japan, which is much cooler. Everything else worked wonderfully, especially when given the dearth of quality games in the months after Saturn's launch. It's little more than an arcade game, but since when did that become an epithet? You want a fast-paced, exciting game with great graphics, typical Sega Van Halen-style music, and a lot of action.

It's a good example of the Sega arcade style; everything is layered with a professional sheen. Again, it was flatly ignored by the prozines, which was completely unfair. I don't know how the game fared in Europe and around the world, where Soccer is far more popular, so I can't say if it's just a case of American ignorance.

For those who sat down for a spin, Worldwide Soccer was a great amount of fun. It really came together in versus play, and I remember many a heated match that went down to the wire. Heck, even after WWS '97 came out, this was still fun to throw in now and then. I'm reminded of all the great multiplayer games on Dreamcast. Here's one game that would have been perfect for that console. Too bad Virtua Striker was such a dud.

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