Genre: Sports Developer: Extended Play Prod. Publisher: Electronic Arts Players: 1-2 Released: 1994
In 1994-1995 I never guessed that Electronic Arts would get as large as it is today. At first, it got noticed by Genesis owners because of the huge cartridges that all had a sort of little yellow tab on them, the use of which never became clear to me. Of course, one of the main pillars of Electronic Arts’ success has always been the FIFA Soccer series. After the successful FIFA International Soccer, also known as FIFA Soccer ’94, Electronics Arts released the 1995-sequel exclusively on the Genesis.
FIFA Soccer ’95 is a huge improvement over the original. Most importantly, the whole game is more polished. The graphics and sound are sharper, the action is faster and smoother, the AI is improved and the control is more tight. Also pretty cool is the addition of more moves; I especially enjoy the possibility to punch other players in the face (which will almost always get you booked). The battery backup is improved as well, making it possible to save up four competitions in the cartridge, replacing the laborious password system.
It is easy to see why FIFA Soccer ’95 was a success in its day: there weren’t any other soccer games that could compete with the excellent and smooth presentation EA managed to give the game. There are tons of options (among them League, Tournament and Friendly), the menu system works fine and the saving feature is one of the best to be found on any Genesis game around. FIFA Soccer ’95 includes all the official teams from England, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, United States, Spain, and Brazil; and it’s also possible to play with the national teams. However, the game wasn’t completely officially licensed and because of that all of the players’ name are fictitious.
The gameplay isn’t as directly accessible as of its main competitors, Sensible Soccer or International Superstar Soccer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. It just takes a little longer to get into, because the controls seem a little bit stiffer. Due to the isometric view on the pitch it also can be a little hard to pass accurately to (non-visible) nearby teammates. Scoring goals seems especially hard at first: the goalkeepers are extremely good. However, people tend to forget this is the case in almost every soccer game around to this day. If you have the patience to practice for a little while, FIFA ’95 turns out to be very deep and involving. You can alter your strategy and line up in any possible way and it really effects the way your players are playing in a manner which was quite revolutionary for 1994/1995. In terms of options and presentation FIFA ’95 easily beats its main competitors; but Sensible Soccer is more suitable for non-soccer fans due to its more accessible gameplay.
Overall, FIFA ‘95 is a big improvement over the original game and an excellent soccer simulation with a top of the bill presentation and outstanding memory function. I also consider it as one of the highlights of the 16-bit FIFA series, because it only went downhill after this one (especially the graphics and presentation of the following editions are disappointing – whenever the gameplay has improved in those games is a matter of controversy. Personally, I don’t think so.) It wasn’t until the quite recent FIFA ’08 (Xbox 360/PS3) that EA finally managed to give the series some its initial unique and professional charm back.
SCORE: 8 out of 10