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Showing posts with label Soccer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Soccer. 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.

The Beautiful Game

In the early days of the Dreamcast, Sega was riding high on a crest of positive publicity and the system was truly light years ahead of anything else in the console market. While Sega of America was kicking ass in the the US, the European arm of the company decided to take the crusade in a slightly different direction - to the packed stadia of the football world.

We have looked at Sega Europe's slightly misguided TV and print advertising campaign in the recent past, but one aspect of this assault on the subconscious of the 'casual' gamer was the decision to sponsor some of Europe's biggest football teams. And by 'football,' I obviously mean 'soccer.' Sega Europe sponsored four teams in total - Arsenal (England), Sampdoria (Italy), St Etienne (France) and Deportivo de la Coruña (Spain).