Regular visitors to this cheery video gaming outpost will be aware that I like myself a nice bit of togger now and then, be it in real life or in virtual form. The first football/soccer game that I really enjoyed playing was International Superstar Soccer Deluxe on the much vaunted Super Nintendo system.
Whereas I just couldn’t take to FIFA Soccer on the same console, I was enchanted by ISS Deluxe, possibly due to the fact it had more easily discernible differences between the players on the pitch thanks to its more detailed player designs.
Even though the game didn’t have real licensed players, I came to love its own in-house roster like they were the real deal anyway. Of course, most of these players were based on real people, with their names cannily changed to avoid any unwanted visits from FIFA’s stern legal team.
In today’s article I count down my own personal favourite ten players in the game. They may differ from your own, but this isn’t supposed to be a definitive list, it’s just my opinion. So with that said, please join me as we count down the Top Ten ISS Deluxe Players!
There’s only one rule, which is it’s one player per team, otherwise I’d just pick most of the Italy side.
10 – Ferreira – Brazil
You might think it strange that considering Brazil’s famed attacking strength, I have instead plumped for one of their defenders as my Number Ten? But, as anyone who has watched the best Brazilian sides over the years will know, just because you play in defence doesn’t mean you have to just sit back and not cross the halfway line. No, for Brazilians defensive positions tend to be treated more as a suggestion as opposed to an absolute.
Ferreira is a perfect example of this. Not only is he blessed with defensive nous, but he is also skilled with the ball at his feet and has no problem with working the ball down the wing into attacking positions. Playing as Brazil, you’ll find a lot of the action down the left wing often starts and ends with Ferreira, as he fearlessly heads down looking to pump crosses into the attacking jackhammer that is Allejao.
Good defender, even better in attack, a proper Brazilian!
9 – Svensson – Sweden
The first appearance of a goalkeeper in the list, Svensson is the safe pair of hands that backs up a highly functional Swedish side. Sweden aren’t exactly a particularly exciting side to play as in the game, but they combine power and finesse well enough to be a decent choice for the intermediate player looking for a bit of a challenge in World Series Mode.
What sets them apart from other solid outfits in the game though is their keeper, the towering Svensson. Svensson is not only sturdy on powerful shots, but he also is great on crosses and martials his box with confidence. If you happen to be on the back foot as the Swedes, you know that your last line of defence can be trusted in a pinch.
A safe pair of hands for a decent outfit!
8 – Okuda – Japan
Being that Deluxe was made by Japanese company, Konami, with the burgeoning Japanese soccer fan in mind, it was only natural that the Japanese teams skills would be somewhat…”exaggerated” for this reason. How could Konami expect much satisfaction to be derived in its home nation if the Japanese side were, to put it mildly, a bit cack?
As of the release of the game, Japan had in fact never even qualified for World Cup Finals at all and were decidedly behind both South Korea and Saudi Arabia in the Asian conference. It would take until 1998 for Japan to finally make it, which was mostly down to the tournament being extended to 32 teams, thus ensuring that Asia went from having two qualifying slots to four.
Thusly, it feels like the Japanese players have all had a swig of magic potion and play well beyond themselves as a result. The downside of this is that it isn’t particularly realistic; with the upside being that the Japanese can be immensely fun to play as, the red headed midfielder Okuda in particular.
He’s nippy, likes a tackle and can fire off a stinging shot when called upon. A lot of the play goes through him when you’re playing as Japan, and he’s a key part of a very enjoyable side.
7 – Alan Regis – England
I don’t actually know if Regis’ first name is indeed “Alan”, as he appears as just “A. Regis” in the game, but ever since I was a child I just always assumed his first name was Alan, mainly because as England’s main striker I assumed he was a facsimile for England great Alan Shearer. He certainly has the devastating goal scoring prowess of his possible namesake.
England are a pretty bang average outfit in this game, truth being told, but considering it was released prior to Euro 96 and after England’s disastrous failure to reach the World Cup in 1994, I guess you can’t really blame Konami for taking a sledgehammer to their stats. Regis is one of the few players in the side who can really make a difference. Simply put, he’s positively lethal from 6 yards out, so if you can get him in amongst defences, he’ll be giving goalkeepers many sleepless nights.
A bright light in an overly dingy English side!
6 – Van Riet – Belgium
The second goalkeeper to make the list, Van Riet is similar to fellow glove wearer Svensson in that he is the star player in a functional, if somewhat unexciting, side. Belgium do benefit from having the skilled Boursin in their ranks, but really, Van Riet is the closest thing they have to a top performer, and he’s comfortably one of the best goalkeepers in the game along with his Swedish counterpart.
Possibly inspired by the imperious goalkeeping star Michelle Preud’homme, a man who was part of a very good Belgian side in the 90’s, Van Riet is a keeper that honestly feels like he can get to any shot, and it takes a lot to beat him. Certainly one of my abiding memories of playing the game as a youth is that I was always frustrated when Belgium came up as my opposition, because I knew it would take a battering ram to get the ball past the stubborn Van Riet.
Not just a safe pair of hands but a genuine superstar!
5 – Ewing – USA
The USA hadn’t really impressed at Italia 90. They’d been little more than a physical team who had been short on skill and heavy on brute force. However, when the time came for them to host the tournament in 1994, they actually impressed and played considerably better football than they’d displayed four years previously. One of the key players in the side had been the hairy Alexi Lalas, a talented defender whose impressive performances earned him a gig in Italy with the side Padova following the tournament’s conclusion.
Ewing is heavily inspired by Lalas, even down to the shaggy beard and big hair. Not only is he a powerful defensive presence but he’s also a dab hand at set pieces and often can be pretty useful if you’re a goal down and need to start sending players forward in the dying embers of a contest.
He’s strong, hairy and brings some much needed character to proceedings!
4 – Koppers – Holland
Adorned with a hairstyle reminiscent of Guile from Street Fighter II, Koppers is a supremely skilled attacking player in an impressive Holland side. Best played in the middle of the attacking three in a 433 formation, Koppers combines technical skill with an almost terrifying eye for goal.
In the hands of an ISS expert, Koppers is pretty much unbeatable. If you’re unlucky enough to find yourself in that situation, then get ready to pick the ball out of your net a lot, because he’ll punish you without remorse. The Dutch team in general is really strong, but Koppers takes the cheese toasty with his clinical finishing.
The Oranje truly are brilliant when Koppers is in his pomp!
3 – Murillo – Colombia
Any football fan from the 90s will know immediately who the lanky Murillo is based on. A direct copy of the charismatic Carlos Valderrama, Murillo is an absolute beast who can win games for Colombia pretty much on his own with the right player controlling him.
Murillo highlights a key difference between ISS Deluxe and FIFA Soccer, that being that the individual players in Deluxe actually seemed unique from one another, not just in stats but also in appearance. In FIFA Soccer, the players all looked similar, and the game just wasn’t as enjoyable as consequence.
To be honest, if anything, Murillo is overpowered, especially as Valderrama himself never really shone at a World Cup beyond having a unique hairdo. He was certainly a talented player and probably the biggest character in a team full of them, but this writer can’t help but feel that Colombia’s failure to get past the last 16 of a World Cup in the 90s did some sizable damage to his legacy on the international stage, along with the rest of the players in that squad.
Murillo is a tremendous player, and Colombia are certainly a lot of fun to play as, even if there are better sides to choose from in the South American conference.
2 – Blazek – Czech Republic
The headband wearing Blazek is highly skilled and exceptionally fun to play as, as are the Czechs as a whole. Not only is Blazek exciting and overflowing with flair, but his main sidekick, Novotny, is also a very good player in his own right, and if you can combine the two as an attacking force, there isn’t a team on the game who can stop you.
Possibly based on the long haired Karel Poborsky, a player so talented he actually found himself signed by Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in the late 90s, Blazek has an instantly recognisable look and is comfortably one of the best players in the game.
A headband wearing Czech maestro!
1 – Galfano – Italy
There’s no hiding that this ponytailed supremo is based on footballing megastar Roberto Baggio, the man who, along with the non-related Dino Baggio, spearheaded Italy’s almost unbelievable march to the 1994 World Cup Final. Though it would be unfair to say that the Baggio’s got Italy there on their own, they certainly played integral parts during critical moments of the tournament, the Quarter Final with Spain especially.
As a youth, I was a huge fan of Roberto Baggio, I thought he was utterly sensational, and I remember feeling genuinely gutted for him that he missed the deciding penalty kick against Brazil in that 1994 Final, especially after he’d done so much to get Italy there in the first place.
Galfano more than does his real life counterpart justice, being skilled to almost insane levels, along with most of the Italian side, in fact. Italy are probably pound for pound the best side in the game, and I’d recommend any newcomer to start out with them, as they are just so skilled that you’ll have a chance against anyone even if you’re still learning the ropes.
Gorgeous Galfano is a divine ponytailed dreamboat, and if you play as Italy, you’ll be screaming GOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL LLLLLAAACCCCIIIIOOOOOOOOOO until your throat is red raw!
Thanks for reading
Until next time;