Retrospective: Nintendo World Cup

Never mind female linesmen, here you can kill people.

Let me get straight to the point: Nintendo World Cup is a football game that allows you to kill other players. You do this by performing a Super Shot at very close range, and it's effective roughly eight times out of 10. Push the magic buttons, watch while the ball performs some loopy multi-coloured firework display, and then wince gratefully as it thuds into your rival's stomach with a sound effect that invokes the Incredible Hulk slipping on a stray rollerskate at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Ouch: your foe's eyes will bulge from their skull, and their wretched body will fall to the ground and litter the playing field until somebody does something dull like actually scoring a goal to reset both teams. Persistent corpses, eh? Kudos to Technos Japan for showing us the terrible consequences of violence. Not quite so much kudos for showing this to us in a football game.

Granted, maybe those fouled players were meant to be sleeping, but in our house we liked to pronounce them dead straight away.

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Fashions change, but a pixellated blow-dry back-comb is truly timeless.

Killing aside, of course, this really isn't a particularly proficient simulation of football. Actually I'm not really sure the developers knew that much about football at all. Nintendo World Cup plays as if a few key members of the design team had once heard a description of the beautiful game from a time-addled drunk in a noisy pub. They'd written parts of the garbled description down on a napkin, perhaps, crossed out all the paranoid ramblings about Noam Chomsky and saxophones, and then used the napkin to mop up some spilt beer. After that, they'd travelled the world for years righting wrongs until, one day, they rediscovered that tatty, disintegrating, semi-legible napkin in a pair of old cords. That's the point at which it became their design document.

Football, Nintendo World Cup-style, then: A game of two halves, in which two teams of six players inflict brutal injuries on each other until someone runs a score up into double figures and the whole thing grinds to a bruised halt. 36-12? Good match, Cameroon. Sorry it had to end in bloodshed.

In place of the traditional rules of the sport, the developers at Technos Japan piled on the options. Cool options, like assigning AI behaviours for your team-mates to subsequently ignore, and weird options, such as a choice of playing surfaces. Alongside good old grass and clay (I don't know football that well myself, as it happens. Do people still play on clay?), you can schedule matches to take place on rubble-filled deserts or frozen lakes. An ice level! In a football game! I'm guessing the Technos boss was shopping for bunk beds on the day this particular concept document powered its cheery way through the appraisal process.

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