World Class Soccer/Italy 1990 review

Like I said before in my Emilio Butragueño ¡Futbol! review, I’m a casual football fan that prefers watching national teams over clubs and there’s no bigger international competition than the FIFA World Cup, currently ongoing in Russia (just don’t ask me what the hell happened with Germany because I also have no idea).

And of course, football has millions of fans worldwide which means that football video games should be more common nowadays (instead of EA’s FIFA series and Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer, which have a new release every year with almost no new features). But back in the 80s and 90s, there were several football games in the market, coming originally from the arcades to home releases for computers and consoles alike.

Today, we’re going to take a look at one of such games, but based exclusively in the 1990 World Cup tournament that occured in Italy. It’s an unofficial title because FIFA only decided to officially sponsor video games since 1994.

World Class Soccer aka Italy 1990 is a football game developed by Tiertex and published by U.S. Gold. It was originally released in 1990 for the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS and ZX Spectrum. It was re-released in 1992 as a budget title for the Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum.

But as always, let’s first look at the covers:

91568-world-class-soccer-dos-front-coverThis is the European cover which features some famous football players of the time (at first glance, I recognise Maradona, Butragueño and Gullit, among others). It’s a very colourful cover full of average drawings of popular players. It isn’t a bad cover and it shows exactly what to expect from the game.

But the US version had its own cover:

91621-world-class-soccer-amiga-front-coverNow, this cover is simply a photo from one of the matches (Cameroon vs England in the quarterfinals, if I’m not mistaken). It isn’t a bad cover either, but isn’t as colorful or memorable as the European cover.

But it’s time to go to the main event and shoot this ball to the goal:


As you can see, the game is as simple as it gets, with a very plain intro featuring a nice, albeit repetitive music theme. Then you get to the main menu, where you can choose to play a friendly match against the computer or against a friend, go straight to the World Cup tournament or mess around with the options, like control schemes and the time length of the matches.

But before playing any match, you need to choose which team to control. All 24 teams are classified by four stats: Skill, Speed, Aggression and Strength, that range from 1 to 5. Then you choose which formation do you want and which players you want for each position on the field. You can even put defenders on the attacking positions and vice-versa, although it isn’t recommended for obvious reasons. All the players are also classified by the same aforementioned stats, so you can make your own squad with your favourite formation.

Then a newscast anchor comes up, introducing the match and the teams and even says who the favourite is, according to the aforementioned stats. Surprisingly, Italy seems to have the highest stats, although it was West Germany that ended up winning the 1990 World Cup. And all the team’s squads seem to be correct (I haven’t check, truth be told).


The match starts…

And finally the match starts. At first glance, it looks like your typical top-down view found in almost every other football game at the time, but then when you see the players fully shown and the angle of goals, it’s revealed that it has a sort of inclined top down perspective. There’s also a small horizontal bar on the bottom that shows the result, the time and the name of the player that currently has the ball. The match view almost fills the entire screen, which is what I’m looking for in a football game and there’s a blinking arrow next to the player you’re currently controlling pointing towards the opponent’s goal, to know where you should be going. The only thing that’s missing is a full pitch view on the side to know exactly our position on the field.

The ball automatically stick to each player’s feet and although some veteran gamers might not like that, personally I do, because it’s easier for inexperienced gamers like myself. And also our goalkeeper is mostly controlled by the AI until he gets the ball, which is another blessing for newcomers to football video games. And although the difficulty is linked to each team stats, even if you’re controlling the strongest team against the weakest team, the match’s difficulty is hard. I wish there could be a difficulty selection option available.


The control scheme is the one commonly found in all retro football games with four directional buttons and one action button to shot and pass the ball or to tackle opponents (the long you push the button, the stronger will be said action). I personally found the controls to be average, either playing with a gamepad or the keyboard, but I didn’t like the fact that you can’t use the gamepad to navigate through the menus.

Also, although the manual refers to the referee’s ability to use cards, I didn’t see any cards or any punishment whatsoever. Either it’s very hard to do rough actions worthy of penalties or the referee simply wasn’t programmed into the game.

The graphics are okay for a game at the time but nothing spectacular. The only sound effect you’ll hear is the sound of kicking the ball, which is as simple as it gets, so apart from the nice (but repetitive) music theme, the game’s quite lacking in the sound department.


In conclusion, World Class Soccer is a pretty average football game that was quickly surpassed by other titles of the time, like World Cup Italia’ 90 by Sega and the groundbreaking Kick-Off 2 (which we’ll review at a later date). So if you’re looking for an easy-to-use football game, you might want to give World Class Soccer a shot, but if you’re looking for a quality football experience, then I don’t recommend it.

However, the game came with a slew of extras, like a trivia quiz, a wall chart to fill the results, a booklet full of information about the tournament and even a form to fill to enter a competition to win tickets to go watch the finals at Rome! It’s like an entire box dedicated to the 1990 World Cup in which the game itself is just a small part of an entire football experience.

That was our review, and I want to apologize for not reviewing or even streaming for more than a month, but I had a lot of professional and personal stuff to do. And I know I wasn’t supposed to review this game now, but with the World Cup currently going on, I thought it was a good idea to review a retro football game.

Next time, we’ll take a look at a very dark game from the mind of a very prolific sci-fi writer that has recently passed away. Until then, who do you think who’ll win the World Cup? Let me know and keep on playing.

Emilio Butragueño ¡Fútbol! review

Regardless of my Portuguese nationality, I love football (soccer to ya, bloody Yankees!). And of course, I was over-enjoyed when Portugal won the European Cup last year!

I also like football videogames (although I do struggle with modern titles) and my introduction to the genre was with a Spanish football computer game, Emilio Butragueño ¡Fútbol!

Emilio Butragueño ¡Fútbol! (also known as Buitre, like the player) was developed by Topo Soft (well, kind of) and published by Erbe Software (in Spain) and by Ocean (outside of Spain). It was originally released in 1987 for Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum and DOS. It was re-released a year later for Commodore 64 and MSX.


I don’t know if the kid is surprised or scared.

But perhaps more interesting than the game itself, it’s the story of its development and how it came to be: both Topo Soft and Dinamic (another Spanish developer) were after Real Madrid football player Emilio Butragueño, in order to license his name for a football computer game. Dinamic apparently had a verbal agreement with Butragueño for 1 million pesetas (Spain’s former currency, which equals roughly to 6010 Euros), but Topo Soft with the help of their distributor, Erbe, managed to sway Butragueño away with 10 million pesetas (around 60100 Euros)!

But the story doesn’t end there. Three of Topo Soft’s main designers were unsatisfied with the company, so they form a new company called Animagic and did a unofficial port of Tehkan World Cup outside of Topo Soft’s working schedule (so it wouldn’t get claimed by Topo Soft) and sold it back to Topo Soft under Animagic’s brand. That’s why Animagic’s name appears in the Amstrad CPC’s version. But all other versions were ported by Topo Soft.

But let’s get back to the game, starting with the cover:


Is he playing against Italy?

As you can see, that’s Emilio Butragueño himself in the corner and in the main image using the red kit. And you must be asking: “if Butragueño played in Real Madrid, why isn’t he wearing its traditional white kit?” Well, apparently Topo Soft decided to use an alternative kit as not to alienate non-Real Madrid fans, but I bet it was so that Topo Soft wouldn’t be forced to pay royalties to Real Madrid. And that’s not the Spanish National Team’s kit either (they used to use blue shorts).

But enough talk and let’s boot this sucker, shall we?

As you can see, the game starts with a very bad rendition of the box cover, without any title whatsoever, just the company’s logo. And then we get to the menu in Spanish. Fortunately, this is basically the only Spanish you’ll ever find in the game, so non-Spanish speaking gamers can still play it.

In the main menu screen, you can choose between a single or two players mode, the duration of the match between ten, twenty or thirty minutes and the difficulty level between two options. You can’t choose which team to control, with player one always controlling the white team and player two or the CPU controlling the red team. In the other ports, it was possible for the players to choose between both teams.


Actually the white team looks more like Germany

And then you start the match and although you can’t see the teams’ names, it’s safe to assume that the white team is supposed to be Real Madrid but I have no idea who the red team is supposed to be. One could say it’s Real Madrid’s main rivals, Barcelona FC, but their jerseys are red AND blue. Was there a Spanish team using a full red kit back then? Anyway, just imagine a football team with traditional red kits, like Liverpool FC or something.

Because it’s a sports game, I highly recommend the use of a gamepad or a joystick over the keyboard. The controls feel somewhat stiff and because you can only control a player at a time, it’s easy to get confused which player you’re controlling, even with the flashing prompts. Also, there’s only 1 button for shooting and that’s what you’ll end up doing while in possession of the ball, since you can only shoot the ball high and nothing else. While not in possession of the ball, you can tackle other players for it, but be careful not to commit fouls (as you know, two yellow cards or one red card equals expulsion). Also apparently the match ends if any of the teams scores ten goals, but I haven’t seen it so far.


GOOOOOOOAAAAALLL! Too bad it was from the other team

The CGA graphics leave a lot to be desired in comparison with the other versions (even the ZX Spectrum version with less colors looks better!), but the animations aren’t that bad. The bottom part of the screen with the score, time and the overhead football pitch serve their purpose, but they could have been a bit smaller in order to make the main view bigger. The sprites also serve their purpose, despite being seen through an overhead perspective. And apart from the average sound effects, there’s no music whatsoever. Not even a title theme!

With the lack of choice between teams and just two difficulty levels, there isn’t a lot of replay value. It’s good for a quick match with a friend without the hassle of going between several options and menus, but very little else.


Corner kick.

However, because the game had the name of a very famous football player at the time, apparently it sold more than 100.000 copies, which encouraged Topo Soft to develop a sequel in 1989, which was only released for Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum and MSX, so we won’t review it.

I don’t recommend this game mainly because it was quickly overshadowed by a true classic of the genre, Kick-Off, from which all other football games built upon afterwards. But that’s a review for another day…

So, did you enjoy the review and/or the game? Like and leave your comments below and tell me what your favorite football games are. Next time, we’ll go under the sea. Till then, keep on playing (football and otherwise).