Sadly this isn’t the glorious return to featuring games on SEGA’s Fifth Generation Console that I was hoping it would be. This game actually looked relatively decent when I viewed footage of it on YouTube but, as they say, the proof is in the eating and this game leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth.
Developed by Silicon Dreams (The studio who would go on to develop the Official Champions League series of games for the sixth gen) and published by SEGA itself (EIDOS took care of the publishing on other platforms) this game is one of the many soccer releases that found their way to consoles and PC during the mid to late 90’s. In some ways it’s a shame that there are only two major soccer series in the marketplace these days, but you can be assured that both of them will at least be playable (Unless you made the mistake of getting the PC version of PES last year of course) as opposed to the lottery that was soccer games in the fifth generation.
The market was ridiculously oversaturated back in the day, with seemingly a new soccer game almost every month from a wide range of developers. The Champions League games that Silicon would go on to release were at least reasonably competent football games. The same can’t be said for the shower that is World League Soccer ’98.
I’m going to dive straight in with my usual complaint when it comes to sports games, ones from the 90’s especially, and that’s the fact that this game doesn’t have modifiable difficulty levels. You can amend the “skill” level of the team you control, but you can’t modify the CPU difficulty one single iota. Why this was such a recurring issue in the 90’s is completely beyond me, but it rears its ugly head once again to ruin this game practically right out of the gate. Not having a difficulty level means that most players will fall into two categories, those who find the game too hard and those that find the game too easy. There will of course be a third category of player who will find the game to be the equivalent of that illusive third bowl of porridge, but pleasing them isn’t worth pissing off the 66% of your target audience who will tire with the game very quickly.
It doesn’t help that the controls are lousy as well as being both unresponsive and oversensitive depending on which situation you are in. The usual options to pass, shoot and cross are there, along with the through ball option as well, but they are all flawed in their own special way. Passing is immediately frustrating owing to the fact that if you press the pass button with even slightly too much pressure, your player will go for a chipped pass rather than passing the ball along the ground. This caused numerous instances of me trying to pass to a player no more than a few feet from me only to end up watching helplessly as my player chipped the ball half way down the pitch to another member of the squad instead.
There is an option to switch between players when you don’t have possession, but it hardly ever works and you’re instead forced to control a player whose much further away with no chance whatsoever of getting to the opposition player with the ball, all while another player on your team stands there picking his bum. I thought at first that this was a result of the notoriously shallow shoulder buttons on the Saturn controller, but the sprint button on the opposing shoulder worked well enough, so I can only mark this down to the game being the absolute drizzling. This makes the defending even wanker than it already is which is very wank indeed.
The game manual states that by pressing the A Button, you can perform a shoulder barge tackle while pressing the B Button will allow you to perform a sliding tackle. After pressing both buttons I can only assume that there must have been a programming error, as both animations looked exactly the same and were both woefully inaccurate. You could honestly put a Rizla paper between whether a challenge is a good one or a foul. The reaction of the opposing player will be exactly the same whether a tackle comes off correctly or is a foul. This essentially removes all pretence of actual skill and just makes defending a game of lucky dip.
The player models and stadia don’t look too awful and the game does have some nice weather effects, but that’s pretty much all the positive stuff I can say about it. This game is, quite frankly, atrocious and I would strongly warn anyone with a Saturn against picking it up. It’s rare that I feel positive thoughts when a game stops working, but when WLS ’98 stuttered and kept freezing I was delighted to have a reprieve from playing the bastard thing any longer!
As always, I’ll post some footage of the game below.
Thanks for reading
You can view YouTube footage of the game courtesy of SaturnFanPL by clicking HERE
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