Back in the day, I played in a small community soccer league. To prove it, I still have the yellow pillowed jersey with my number on the back (#2), the smelly shin guards in the hallway closet, and a number of broken league trophies somewhere in a box mixed with parts from my Playmates Technodrome.

Nintendo World Cup for the Nintendo Entertainment System brings me back to early Saturday morning scrimmages and Gatorade jugs before the development of my Oreo belly. But then Nabisco had to release those holiday-themed Winter Oreos, the ones with the seasonally red “creme” inside, and my ass blew up like a balloon.

The team I played on christened me with the nickname “Bigfoot” because, though I was actually the smallest and the youngest of the ragtag bunch, in spite my size and age, I could kick a soccer ball so high and so damn far that it’d usually fly over the goal net and land on the windshield of some soccer mom’s minivan, setting off her car alarm. That happened on at least two different occasions that I can recall.

I guess that explains why I was put on defense most of the time; it’d be hard for the ball to reach the parking lot from way on the other side of the field. But damned if I didn’t try. The coach couldn’t believe how such a small kid with scrawny legs could posses such a wicked kick. To borrow a line from He-Man, I had the power.

All this extra attention I was getting went straight to my head, and I felt that I had to defend my title, so Bigfoot eventually transformed into Bigasshole when he got out on the field to play. I was a little monster in black Umbro shorts. I used to psych out the other team by muttering every bad word I knew under my breath to throw them off their game. This may not sound like too big of a deal to you, but put yourself in the shoes of a pure-in-heart home schooled Christian kid, oblivious to the outside sinful world, as some in the league were, and I think you’d agree to the offensiveness of a string of profanities like “Poopy Christ Vagina” being violently delivered with clenched teeth an earshot away.

That wasn’t all I did. I used to also hustle around the field like a banshee with cleats on and kicked kids in the shins when the ref wasn’t looking. For God’s sake, I got on my knees and held my arms to heaven every time our team scored. I was a little soccer prick, fueled by a nickname, strengthened by a number. I’d kicked balls, athletic and genital, all the way to the after-game party at Pizza Hut.

Here’s one more typical Bigfoot posturing: At the end of a game, it was customary for the two teams to line up and shake hands and say good game to each other, and I remember pulling back my handshakes when we lost, instead slicking back my hair like the bad ass Bigfoot I was.

Looking back on the experience now, I really had no incentive to be so competitive. If we won the game, we had a pizza party afterwards. If we lost, we still had the pizza party. If we came in number one in the league, we won a championship trophy. If we came in dead last, we won the same championship trophy.

Much like my bad behavior, Nintendo World Cup throws the rules of soccer aside and encourages unsportsmanlike conduct, as there are no penalties or red flags to get in the way of slide tackling to your heart’s desire. A single kick can easily carry the ball from one end of the field to the other. And special moves show off ball-hogging tricks like bicycles kicks and super headers.

In Nintendo World Cup, you can kick ass without looking like one, as this was originally a Technos title, the makers of Double Dragon, and one in the Kunio-kun series that used those cute tough guy characters that River City Ransom made popular in the States. You can even globe-trot as part of the ultimate traveling soccer team on the quest for the World Cup.

   
   
   

The instruction manual sums up this game better than I ever could: “Bring the excitement of International soccer to your home with Nintendo World Cup. Pass … Shoot … SCORE!!! It’s world class fun!”


Nintendo World Cup was one in a handful of game paks to take advantage of Nintendo’s NES Four Score peripheral, which allowed four controllers to be hooked up at the same time for four player support.

(Image source: Nintendo Power)

Can you count the number of innuendos in this official advertisement? “Get the hottest action… you and a friend take on two others… with four it’s more exciting.” All I want to do is play Nintendo soccer, not swing.

Dutch prototype collector Niels Thomassen listed this pre-release copy of Nintendo World Cup on eBay. The problem with buying prototypes is that it’s a crap shoot. You don’t know when you’ll hit a home run, or when you’ll strike out. I struck out with this one. After dumping the data, it is exactly the same as the released North American game. Where’s my pizza party, man?