Showing posts with label European Super League. Show all posts
Showing posts with label European Super League. Show all posts

World Cup Qatar '22 lands on Dreamcast

The Dreamcast never played host to an official FIFA World Cup title for a couple of obvious reasons - namely that the console lived and died in the four year gap between the France '98 and 2002 Korea & Japan competitions; and that Electronic Arts held the licence for the official simulation of the tournament. Yes, we know there was also a Konami-produced World Cup '98 game, but they were too busy vomiting out Grinch games onto the Dreamcast to bother porting any of that ISS goodness.

I suppose the closest we ever came to getting an official football tournament tie-in game was Sega Worldwide Soccer 2000: Euro Edition, which aimed to capitalise on the 2000 European Championships; and while that game is decent enough, it doesn't really come anywhere near the best football offerings hosted by contemporary platforms.

Things are about to change though, as a fan-made 'official' World Cup Qatar '22 game has now launched for Sega's retro beast, bringing all the thrills and spills of the 2022 Qatar World Cup to the Dreamcast...sort of. When this title was first announced a few months ago, I was quite rightly very interested. I'm a huge fan of football and football games, and so to get a new indie developed football game on the Dreamcast sounded like mana was finally being delivered from heaven. Then the news filtered through that this 'new' game was little more than a fan mod of one of the most lacklustre efforts on the Dreamcast - European Super League - and my anticipation was replaced with the normal background disappointment that only a Manchester United supporter can truly understand. Sigh.

So then, I write this news piece in two minds. On the one hand World Cup Qatar '22 (or D.E.S. / Dreamcast Evolution Soccer, as it sometimes refers to itself) is simply Virgin Interactive's European Super League in wolf's clothing. It plays the same essentially - and I hate to say this - but it's a bad game. On the other hand though, one can't help but be impressed by the effort that has gone into this release. Meu Dreamcast, the team behind World Cup Qatar '22, have gone to great lengths to add all manner of cosmetic changes to the base European Super League game, with an impressive FMV intro, up to date international squads, kits, new pitch textures, crowd effects and even play-by-play commentary (of sorts) - something the original game oddly lacked. 

Strangely, there are lots of remnants of the original base game left unedited though, such as team names during gameplay and player likenesses - I'm pretty sure Edgar Davids never played for England, for example. The game is still only a 95% complete beta according to the file name though, so maybe these things will be ammended in time.

In summary then - World Cup Qatar '22 is a game that can't really be faulted when it comes to sheer dedication on the part of the modding team. It's a free update for an existing game that adds a whole lot in terms of aesthetic upgrades; but when the engine underneath is so lacking in terms of quality there exists something of a dichotomy. It's like buying a Lamborghini only to discover someone has replaced the engine with that of an Austin Princess. 

That said, it is totally free to download and try for yourself, so there's nothing to lose in giving this spirited upstart a trial. If the squad behind this release have the inclination to turn their attention to a superior base game (say, UEFA Striker or Virtua Striker 2), then things are looking promising for the future. If they give it 110%, naturally. Back to the studio.

At this point allow me to apologise for all of the piss poor football cliches included in this news report. And now you've forgiven me, feel free to grab World Cup Qatar '22 for Dreamcast over at the Dreamcast Talk forums, and/or check out some gameplay comparison footage here.

Retrospective: European Super League

If you spend any time on the internet these days, especially perusing Dreamcast news sites, forums and discussion threads, you'll inevitably encounter the notion that the system was 'ahead of its time.' In some ways, this is probably true - the VMU, the myriad A/V connection types, Spirit of Speed 1937, the internet connectivity and online gaming in an era when it wasn’t really standard for consoles...I could go on. 

There's another example of the Dreamcast being ahead of its time though: European Super League. Yes, 20 years before the eponymous debacle that shook European club football to its foundations, the good old Dreamcast was predicting the future of the beautiful game. And in time honoured fashion, the Dreamcast's version of the European Super League was every bit as dodgy as the real-life iteration that appeared (briefly) in early 2021.

Before you spit your cornflakes out, I know European Super League was a multi-platform release...I'm just desperately trying to somehow craft a relevant introduction to a retrospective on what I consider to be a pretty turgid football game.

To give some context, we have mentioned the Dreamcast's relatively lacklustre complement of football (soccer) titles here in the past, but European Super League is one we haven't looked at in any real depth. In fact, I'm pretty sure the only summary we've ever published goes a little like this: it has 16 teams. There is no commentary. It is unplayable. It has graphics like a Master System game. Do me a favour.

But now we're taking a slightly more in-depth look. Cough. Lining up alongside the likes of Sega Worldwide Soccer 2000, Sega Worldwide Soccer 2000 Euro Edition, UEFA Striker, UEFA Dream Soccer, Virtua Striker 2 and 90 Minutes, European Super League completes a team of also-rans that would make even the ever-optimistic Ted Lasso weep; and while that may sound a little harsh - as some of those games are at least passable - not one of them comes close to recreating the fun or spectacle of contemporary footy games on competing platforms.

Guns...Lots of Guns

Aye up! You’ll be pleased to hear that since my last post here at the ‘Yard, I haven’t thrown my guts up once! Two whole weeks without spewing the contents of my stomach all over a) the floor, b) the wall, or c) my bed, curtains or other related soft furnishings. I’m actually quite proud of myself. I have, however, been on the receiving end of a fist (well, several fists) and have duly acquired a black eye and a suspected broken nose. Such are the risks when one partakes in the quaffage of alcohol. Which I won’t be doing again for a while. Cough.

But you don’t want to hear about my drunken escapades. You want to know about man’s greatest feat of technological engineering – No, not the Stargate – the Sega Dreamcast! More to the point, Sega Dreamcast GAMES! Yes, even more games, by way of eBay, have landed on my desk and then jumped into my console. Are they good? Well, we’re about to find out…

Conflict Zone

I personally can’t understand why there was never a Command & Conquer or Starcraft game released for the DC. I’m pretty sure EA hadn’t swallowed Westwood at the time of the Cast’s reign – so why no port of either?! Even the fucking N64 got (blurry, cut down) versions of both. As with most things to do with Sega’s white brick of joy – The Mind Boggles ™. Aaaaaaanyway, back to the present. Conflict Zone, then. About as close as you’re likely to get to playing Command & Conquer, Starcraft, Warzone etc etc etc on your Dreamcast. Basically it’s a top down real time strategy game that has you constructing a base, building tanks, training troops and then marauding over the countryside wiping out enemy units. The premise is a simple but effective one – and one which proves to be immensely enjoyable…if executed correctly.

These are PC shots, but the DC version is practically identical. Looks sweet, no? Wait till it moves...
With this in mind, Conflict Zone has all the right ingredients, but it seems as though the chef is a retard. With dribble on his chin and shit stains on his apron.

Let me digress. In conflict Zone, you are only allowed to build your base where the computer wants you to build it – so forget about scouting around for a good location that may be naturally fortified or protected by trees etc. Also, you can only place buildings next to each other in a grid pattern so when you do finally get up and running, the base looks more like a council estate than a highly functional military outpost. This is only a minor thing – but still quite annoying. Slightly more niggling is the graphics engine.

It may look pretty sweet in the screen shots, and for the most part it’s quite a good looking game – especially since the whole battlefield is modeled in 3D – meaning that you can zoom and spin the camera around to your heart’s content. It’s just that the whole engine seems to creak and strain as soon as you have more than a few units chugging around the screen. Wouldn’t it have been better to just use a 2D engine like Red Alert 2’s?

Don’t get me wrong – Conflict Zone is a highly playable real time strategy romp – certainly the best (only?) example on our favourite console, and features some great ideas. For example, gaining public support for your campaigns by treating civilians well is a nice touch, as is the way you get more funding depending on whether your war is seen as just by the media (clearly the stuff of fantasy, eh, Mr Bush?). It’s just that the interface is unwieldy and the graphics are so jumpy…

You get the idea. It’ a nice try at a new take on the strategy genre and for the most part it’s quite good. Just not as good as it could’ve been. And nowhere near Command & Conquer.

Gunbird 2

Yet another uber-camp Dreamcast game? Looks like it. Yep, following on from Fighting Vipers, Tech Romancer and Bust A Move comes Gunbird 2 – a super gay 2D shoot ‘em up that features a fat bloke on a magic carpet, a semi-naked school girl on a broomstick, Count Dracula and a Bon Jovi lookalike that can turn bullets into roses. Just a normal day at Capcom, then. 
There’s not actually much more to it than that.

Once you get through the ridiculous intro and loading screens (of which there are many), you get the choice of whether you want the screen to be the size of a postage stamp, normal or bigger than the telly so you can move it around whilst playing. Sounds weird, I know, but I you play it you’ll understand. After that, you chose one of the aforementioned oddball characters (again, why is there a fat bloke on a magic carpet?) and then launch into the game. Like I said, it’s a 2D up-the-screen shooter like Xenon 2 (anyone remember that classic?!), where loads of flying baddies come down and shoot glowing shit at you. Which you must dodge. Or die. That’s it. Hold down the fire button and Bob’s your uncle. It also kinda reminds me of Raiden on the Jaguar, only with really well drawn enemies. The graphics are very slightly blocky, but it’s packed with detail – there are even people walking about in the streets below the action, obviously oblivious to the frantic battle between fat blokes on magic carpets and flying mechanoids going on above their heads.
Which leads me to the next quandary. If the enemy forces in Gunbird 2 have the funds and technology to build such impressive battle-droids and flying fortresses, why can’t they manufacture a gun than shoots in a straight line? Strange…

That aside, Gunbird 2 is a wholly inoffensive shooter that passes time nicely. Can’t really complain.

European Super League

A football game, unofficially based on the Champions League…that doesn’t feature Manchester United. And only has 16 teams in it. And has no running commentary. And has shit graphics, shit game play and shit sound effects. That’ll be European Super League.

Again, these are PC shots. Although the DC version is practically identical. Look at his arms! Chortle!

Based on the already arse Viva Football engine, ESL comes straight from the bottom of the Virgin Interactive cess barrel without so much as a fart, let alone a fanfare. Joining the rest of the Dreamcast’s utterly pathetic crop of footy games, ESL does nothing to buck the trend that the rest of the pack so adamantly adhere to, ie it has a complete lack of anything good. Although the pitches are nice and green. Complete sewage.

So there we have it. 3 games – two of which are OK, one of which is the gaming equivalent of face cancer. My advice? Give Gunbird and Conflict Zone a whirl, avoid European Super League like you would a Lenny Henry DVD boxset.

Reet, I'm off to watch Cloverfield.