Genre: Sports: Developer: Tiertex Design Studios Publisher: Electronic Arts Players: 1-2 Released: 1993
In the ’90s, Electronic Arts was liked by most as a company. It had not yet fallen into the yearly roster update rut that most will admit it is in now. Most of its games, being sports titles, were designed well and featured league and team licenses (something not often seen at the time). They were generally deeper simulations of the sports they represented. On the contrary, the FIFA series was a mixed bag. They were deep enough games, but none of the early releases in the series have aged very well. It seems like the programmers struggled with just how to give them an even balance. It wasn’t until FIFA ’95 and ’96 came along that EA would seem to perfect the formula and give fans a soccer simulation to cherish.
For the Game Gear versions, the programmers managed to implement the same isometric perspective that the 16-bit versions had (something that wasn’t easy on an 8-bit system at the time). Unfortunately, the graphics are muddy, and they just need a little more detail and brightness so that they could have shined and really boosted this game to higher levels. The Game Gear’s capabilities are limited but shouldn’t prevent that from happening, especially given how the players all look identical.
Despite the graphical problems, the sound is where this FIFA International Soccer really falls flat on its face. When you first turn on the game, you are treated to a rather decent opening intro, but as soon as you start you’re left at the mercy of the hollow and tinny echo for the audience that sounds like it’s being played across a worn out audio tape. The sounds of passing the ball are just a bland kicking sound. Even with the Game Gear’s limited sound capabilities, the sound is still lacking and needs a lot of improvement.
Thankfully, the gameplay is a bit better than the presentation. The Game Gear port of FIFA International Soccer offers a healthy selection of options and game types. The controls are easy to learn, only having two buttons, but the field is too big and the screen is zoomed in onto the players too closely. The game lacks a way to dash, really causing the action to feel slow. It’s also difficult to see where you are trying to pass the ball, and many times the ball will get passed off screen and you can’t tell which team is going to get it. It’s also very difficult to aim your passes accurately, creating a lot of luck-based gameplay. These issues can be very tough to work around. My one biggest complaint with this game comes from the fact that the timer is never displayed on the screen during the gameplay. It will show if there’s a goal scored, when a time out is called, or you go into the menu. Without it being displayed during gameplay, however, it leaves a lot of guess work when trying to plan a strategy in the last few minutes or seconds of a period.
Overall, this isn’t the worst game released on the Game Gear or even a bad game at all. That being said, some polish would have made this one of the better sports games for an otherwise dry library. As it stands, it’s just another obsolete and forgotten sports game and one that you don’t have to lose any sleep over if you don’t get around to playing it.