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Soccer: Not that bad

Soccer is a lot like Baseball. It's exactly what you'd expect: little, identical sprites play the sport in question, with few frills. Nevertheless, among the sports launch titles, I found Soccer the most enjoyable.

Soccer offers you something approaching the level of control you want in a sports game. When you're in possession of the ball, you can use the d-pad to cycle through players, then press B to pass the ball to the one selected. On defense, the B button cycles through which player you control. The goalie always moves up and down with whatever player you're controlling, so you don't need to switch to him specifically. When shooting, you move a target arrow within the goal up and down in the same way. All this is a stark contrast to Baseball, where you can't control the outfielders at all.

I find Soccer more enjoyable as a video-game sport because of its constant back-and-forth action. I played the game single-player, but I'm certain it's more fun playing against a friend.
As in Baseball, you can choose your team, though this is purely graphical. But in Soccer you can also choose the difficulty level of the opponent. I was able to narrowly beat level 3 (of 5). You also choose the length of the game; the shortest goes by quickly, which allows you to get in a quick game. At any length, there's a half-time show in which pink cheerleaders dance around the field!
Though it can't hold a candle to the later Nintendo World Cup, its little extras make Soccer slightly less primitive than Baseball. I had more fun playing this than Baseball or Golf.

Grade: C-
Gameplay: Sporadically fun or niche (12/20)
Theme: Generic, uninspired concept and characters (12/20)
Controls: Controls are solid, if limiting (12/15)
Difficulty: Goldilocks: Not too hard, not too easy (15/15)
Graphics: Doesn't look great (9/15)
Sound: Music and sounds are fine but unremarkable (12/15)

Linked Reviews
"Soccer is a misunderstood, fascinating look into the early days of the NES that would pave the way for future sports video games."
— Jake Shapiro, Nintendo Life, 5/10

"Soccer is actually playable and represents the sport's experience properly, unlike Baseball where you cannot even move your fielders."
— Pat Contri, Ultimate Nintendo, 2.5/5

"Nintendo’s early sports games for the NES may seem crude today, but it’s a testament to the company’s developing prowess that they’re still playable. Soccer is a stress-free, basic intro to the sport."
— Dylan Cornelius, Questicle, B-

"I realize 'This boring game doesn't overstay its welcome' is faint praise, but it's better than you'll find in a lot of middling sports adaptations from this era."
— Jeremy Parish, NES Works


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