Genre: Sports: Developer: Extended Play Prod. Publisher: Electronic Arts: Players: 1-4 Released: 1994
I like to classify the Sega CD library into three categories of games; games that are just awful (most FMV and other similar games), the second category would the minimally upgraded ports of cartridge originals, and the third category would be the CD exclusive games that make full usage of the Sega CD’s capabilities and added power. The first category is what killed the Sega CD off; the second category is where FIFA International Soccer falls directly into. Well, I actually kind of like EA’s port of their first soccer game but I could’ve easily settled for playing the cartridge original and wouldn’t have given it a second thought if this CD upgrade never got a release.
FIFA on the Sega CD isn’t a bad game, but there is no reason to own the same exact game as the cart version. The only addition is the EA intro with the Foosball table, an FMV intro showcasing some of the FIFA’s highlights and some CD quality ambient music in the menus and some long load times that drag the game down each and every time you access a menu or finish a half of the game. If any of those editions sound good then maybe this game might just be for you. For me, it’s largely cosmetic but a step backwards overall.
The game plays from a ¾ perspective and gives you the option to use forty-five or ninety degree control, and once you get out onto the field then everything controls and plays quite well. There are a few more moves that can be performed with the controller than your average sports game, so a manual comes in handy if it’s your first time playing, but everything can be picked up pretty quickly after a few short games.
Like most of Electronic Arts’ early sports titles there’s no real season mode present here; there’s an exhibition mode and a few different tournament modes where you have to pick the teams to play and there’s a playoff mode where the computer picks the best teams so there’s no real long term replay value unless you just love soccer. Even then, the game is outdated, and there are better soccer games out there now.
The more prominent problems come with the visuals. The colors and detail are extremely limited and washed out, the field looks faded and needs to be brighter, and the players don’t have the detail that they need to give the game the depth it needs. FIFA lets you change out players during the game, but it’s too hard to tell who’s who as each player is a carbon copy of the last, hair color and all and are only discernable by the number around the star when you’re controlling the character. The scrolling is also quite choppy and jerky and gives the game a nauseating feeling during gameplay. I can’t imagine that the Sega CD is being taxed very hard with this game, so this is no excuse for it to scroll like that.
The sound needs improvement also. The crowd has no ambience to it; it’s just a monotonous echo, and the rest of the sound is sparse except for the grunts of the players and the kicking of the ball. To make it worse, all of the sound effects are very tinny and shrilling and are hard to listen to if you play this for long bouts.
Don’t take this review the wrong way, I don’t hate this version of FIFA by any means even with not being a huge sports fan. It’s just that it could’ve been so much more than it is. The Sega CD had extra power and scaling effects built in, and none of that power was harnessed here; it’s just a real bare bones port. I really love the 3DO version because of all of the unique elements added for that game, and I understand that the Sega CD is not the 3DO, but if they even tried to put half the effort in this one that that one got then this one would’ve shined and would be one of my favorite sports games ever made.
I can’t give this a real high score just for the fact that it absolutely makes no good use of the Sega CD’s capabilities except for glamour and glitz. This was obviously pushed out to fill space on a console with a sparse library of games. If you are a collector you will need this to finish a collection, but if you already have the cart version then there’s no reason to own this game otherwise. Like any other sports title, FIFA for the Sega CD played great and was well liked in its day but has been forgotten as the years passed, but soccer fans remember this game fondly and use it to demonstrate why Sega was such a winner with sports titles back then. I’d give the cartridge version a point higher for the score, but this one gets demerits due to being minimally upgraded filler for the Sega CD’s library. It may however hold some value to anyone who likes four-player sports games.