EA SPORTS. IT’S IN THE GAME.
Those very 6 words defined a whole new world of gaming forever, no more square headed, armless, run left, run right, run forward or run back.. no, oh no… we now have the ability to run the diagonal’s, run the channels… of course you know what I’m talking about, the first and definitely not last in the franchise… FIFA International or FIFA 94.
This was the greatest game of its generation, although flawed in so many ways today. Then, hard core fans were in awe, I skipped many a day of school feigning illness by sticking my head on a red hot radiator for 20 seconds, “Oh my word boy what a high temperature, get up to bed and rest” – result.
Typically you can play, exhibition, play offs, tournament and league formats. I’m going to concentrate on the league format. This was an 8 team league teams chosen at random, or by choice, played home and away total of 14 games, winner takes all… Now I used to love a good old battle with my younger brother, so, me being the elder, I was always the home team in this league, and he the away, although the significance of home advantage was always lost on me cos the fans were neutral and the ground was the same ground for every 4,530,975 battles we had.
A nice little touch at the beginning of the game was the coin toss, where you can choose ends or to kick off. One of the main quirks of the game you could turn the fouling off, we found this no fun, so, with fouls on and referee charged like a Diego Maradona at USA 94 chasing after you, card in hand you ran, and ran..and ran. Until our “psyched Mr Maradona” referees “energy juice” had worn off you would escape your booking…. A banning order me and my brother quickly put in place was standing in front of the goalie, block him and goal! This caused many a mini war so we outlawed this rule very quickly for the safety of Megadrive, controller and 14″ tv we were huddled round.
It was only 2 points for a win and 1 for a draw but you could hit some screamers, normally, outside the box from the correct angle you could and would score a screamer in the top corner past the ailing kepper. Of course it was just the goal, using your control pad, you chose a variety of different celebrations.. seeing the old 16stone centre forward doing a double back flip was always amusing to say the least.
I remember the fictional names, England’s awesome front two of Bruce Mcmillan and Martin Webster with Jonny Law and Frank Barchard the lynchpins in the middle of the pitch… Other players such as B.Plank of Germany, D.D Beers of Holland and J.Barbetto of Brazil were the real threats to your hopes in knockout elimination. Especially their goalkeepers, their hands were like glue, there was no such thing as a fumble, it was either goal, save or miss.
Anyway once the winner of the gruelling 14 match tournament had been announced you then go into a knockout phase of 16 teams, as if this wasn’t long enough for 2 enthusiasts like my brother and I to go through we now had a knockout to go through… after a couple more days of arguments, awe, cries of cheat, screams of joy we were there. The Final. England Vs Holland. Drab affair… 0-0. Extra time 0-0. One thing I forgot to mention was there was no such thing as a penalty shootout.. this was it.. 5 days of skiving school had come down to this.
A sudden death stalemate, tension unberable, 3 hours (real time) later, sweat pouring from our heads, the players on the pitch, unremotlety tired, running like they were in the 1st minute, unphased.. to this day I have never seen a fitter bunch of lads!! T Galea, Englands left back skips passed one, skips passed two, gets to that angle outside the box you know you can score from, he shoots, he scores!!! England have done it. Left back wonder goal in the 469th minute of play! I jump for joy, my brothers head is in his hands…
That’s it, Better get down for tea our fish supper will be freezing now.
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