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International Superstar Soccer '98

Rated E for Everyone

Platform:

Nintendo 64 (N64)

Publisher:

Konami

Developer:

Major A

Released:

September 1998

ROM Size:

96 megabits

Players:

One to Four Simultaneous

Genre:

Sports (Soccer)

Save:

Controller Pak (118 pages)

Optional:

Rumble Pak

 

 

> Final Rating: 4.6 out of 5.0

Introduction

Despite its less-than-warm welcome by Americans, soccer—or "football" as the rest of the world calls it—is the world's most popular sport. So maybe it's not surprising that soccer games are plentiful on the platform. Two heavyweights reign supreme on the system: EA Sports and Konami. EA Sports has released FIFA Soccer 64, FIFA: Road to World Cup 98, World Cup 98, and FIFA 99. Konami has released International Superstar Soccer 64 and now International Superstar Soccer '98.

 

Upon its arrival, Konami's International Superstar Soccer 64 was hailed as the best soccer game ever created. It was light years beyond the pitiful FIFA Soccer 64. Between the two International Superstar Soccer games, however, EA Sports released two much, much-improved versions of FIFA leading up to World Cup '98 in France. So how does International Superstar Soccer '98 fare?

 

Well, as the old adage goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. International Superstar Soccer '98 keeps the awesome core gameplay intact while subtly changing and adding things. Despite the fact that not much new has been brought to the video game, it already plays so well that this minor update can be forgiven.

Gameplay & Control

International Superstar Soccer '98 is the best soccer game on the system at the time of its release, despite the fact it has fictitious teams and players, because it plays the most realistically. A big part of this is the smooth, responsive, uncomplicated control. The other part is superior artificial intelligence. Three problems exist with FIFA: One, lags exist between when you press a button and when the desired action takes place. Two, the game has a more complex control scheme. Three, computer artificial intelligence is suspect at times. With International Superstar Soccer '98, you feel like you're more in control of your players, and it's also easier to perform acrobatic soccer moves like headers and bicycle kicks.

 

Because EA Sports holds the exclusive rights to the FIFA and World Cup licenses, Konami had to include international teams with fictitious players. Fortunately, there's an option to edit player names. Each of the following groups has four teams: C. America, S. America A, S. America B, Europe A, Europe B, Europe C, Europe D, Europe E, Europe F, Asia/Ocean A, Asia/Ocean B, Africa A, and Africa B. So that means International Superstar Soccer '98 contains 52 international teams versus 36 international teams in the original.

 

If you've ever played International Superstar Soccer 64, then you should be familiar with the modes and options in International Superstar Soccer '98. Just to recap, players can choose from Open Game (a single match), International Cup (Konami's "World Cup"-like competition, complete with regional qualifying), World League (a season-type series with 48 teams), Penalty Kicks (a penalty kick shootout), Scenario (16 pre-defined scenarios to try to complete successfully), and Training (practice for the basic controls). All modes except Training can be played by one to four players.

 

For reference, here is the basic control layout for International Superstar Soccer '98: You use either the Control Pad or the Control Stick to move. The B button shoots, whereas the A button passes. Left C lobs the ball, Top C is a through pass, Right C is a one-two pass, and Bottom C is the dash button.

 

So what's new in International Superstar Soccer '98? Not a lot has changed, but there are noticeable differences. The superior artificial intelligence has been tightened up even more. More subtle details have been added to the players, stadium, and screen. You'll see Reebok-sponsored instant replays with new angles and new animation for the players. The number of stadiums has almost doubled, and new weather effects have been added. You now have the ability to adjust the amount of height on your free kicks. Finally, the sound has changed, with awesome music and a new announcer.

Graphics & Sound

EA Sports raised the bar graphically with its FIFA follow-ups. Konami hasn't done much to improve the graphics in International Superstar Soccer '98, other than to add and tweak a few animations and to improve the menu layouts. The player models are still great, the crowd graphics are still nice, and the game still looks crystal clear. But the game just doesn't have the impressive TV-style presentation of the newer FIFA games. Nevertheless, the game looks impressive visually.

 

Konami improved the sound in International Superstar Soccer '98 drastically, however. From the moment you turn on the game, you can hear just how much the sound has improved. All music in the game, from the game introduction to the menu music to the half- and full-time music, is loud, upbeat, rocking, and in stereo. It's very, very impressive. Furthermore, the announcer has been changed. This guy isn't as enthusiastic as the one in International Superstar Soccer 64, but he has more to say and does a better job of keeping up with the action.

Conclusion

International Superstar Soccer '98 is much like your typical yearly sports update, except players and teams don't need to be updated since they aren't real. Instead, the game tries to appease hardcore soccer fans with many small changes, including better intelligence, more teams, much-improved sound, and new options. Casual soccer fans don't need to purchase this update, but die-hards may want to rent it first to see if offers enough improvements for their tastes.

 

Graphics:

4.5

Sound:

4.5

Control:

4.5

Gameplay:

4.6

Lastability

4.6

OVERALL:

4.6

 

DOWN THE ROAD

Not available.

 

Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: May 17, 2000

Appendix Added: N/A

 

 

 

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