World (Cup) In Motion: Looking Back At WORLD CUP CARNIVAL (Mexico 1986) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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World (Cup) In Motion: Looking Back At WORLD CUP CARNIVAL (Mexico 1986)

Chris Morley looks back at the first official Fifa-licensed World Cup video game for home computers.
With the 2022 World Cup final due to be played just a week before Christmas Day (December 18) we thought we'd look ahead to a first winter World Cup in Qatar with a look back at every FIFA licensed computer game, as well as a few which borrow the basic format of the Jules Rimet Trophy - to give the prized silverware the official name it's held since 1946 to honour the French then-FIFA president who was behind the initial 1929 plans for the first such tournament as hosted & indeed won by Uruguay the following year.
It would take until 1986, though, for any kind of virtual representation to quite literally come into play. Mexico '86 that is, a World Cup that is probably best remembered for the late Diego Maradona's “Hand of God” goal against England in the quarter finals, which went quite some way towards helping Argentina in setting up a final victory over West Germany & sealing a second hoisting aloft of the famous old trophy they'd first won on home soil in 1978.

To capitalise on the event, Artic Computing had produced a football tournament game in time for Mexico '86 for the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 & ZX Spectrum, you only got the full complement of qualified teams if you had a Spectrum. Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, England, Mexico, Scotland, Spain & Uruguay were the only teams included for the Amstrad & Commodore equivalents.
As Zzap said of what was probably its biggest selling point at the time,
“The World Cup is happening at this very moment, and if that isn't enough, here's US Gold's World Cup Carnival so you can play your own footy matches in between watching the real ones.”
However, publishers US Gold had simply decided to tweak Artic's original World Cup Football from 1984, landing themselves in hot water with Prism Leisure Corporation who'd sold the copyright to World Cup Football the following year, largely to keep themselves afloat.

How did this publishing controversy come about? Retronauts took a look back at how it all began...
“It used to be that every four years, a World Cup game would accompany the veritable feast of football. But in the good old days, you'd have a whole bellyful of World Cup-themed titles, official and unofficial -- almost any arcade footie game of the past uses national teams and takes some sort of tournament formula, after all. Naturally said titles are often pretty average, especially these days...but one in particular is quite the infamous example -- and for so many more reasons than simply being a terrible game. It's one of the great controversies of the '80s UK microcomputer age, in fact.”
It seems the Carnival was over before it had even started, thanks to the collapse of a previous arrangement with developers Ocean to basically put the World Cup stamp on their game Match Day.
“...that's not what Ocean gave US Gold. In fact, they didn't give them anything at all. Months passed, other projects were worked on, and with about three months to go before kick off in Mexico City, US Gold checked up on Ocean's progress to find that...well, they'd forgotten.“
So, US Gold tweaked Artic's earlier attempt to fulfill their licence for the tournament which was responsible for starting, and indeed later spreading the popularity of, the Mexican wave. No such love for World Cup Carnival though, the majority of reviews were scathing, copies were returned to shops & damning letters were sent in to many a gaming magazine. Zzap had this to say...
“World Cup Carnival is here at last, and what a load of complete and utter crud it is. I thought that US Gold had something really special for us football fans, but no. Just a recycled copy of Artic's pathetic World Cup II. The game plays so incredibly badly it's not true — when you have a player under your control, the rest of your team mates don't move a muscle — they just stand there like dummies.

The set pieces taken by other players are a complete joke — they just bung or kick the ball completely at random giving you no chance to play properly. Speaking of playability the whole game is incredibly simple and I whizzed through the rounds and won the World Cup with ease.

The graphics are awful with totally pathetic animation and wobbly scrolling and the ball moves like it was filled with water. The sound is pathetic too and the tune which plays throughout the game is annoying, repetitive, unimaginative and abysmal. Even if you're a football fan don't go out and buy this hyped drivel.”
That was as good as it got, the high points of a review which gave World Cup Carnival just 11%!
In a move which would have the BBC & ITV panicking if applied to their extensive modern day television coverage of matches, World Cup Carnival games lasted just three minutes with no options for any tactical tweaks. As the review for Crash put it...
"This is the worst football simulation I have ever seen".
But even after having taken such a critical kicking for the eventual solution to their dilemma, US Gold would try to get a renewal for the next World Cup, Italia '90. And while they weren't successful, losing out to Virgin Interactive, who came up with World Cup Soccer-Italia 90, they did bring out an equivalent in Italy 1990.

Until then, arrivederci!

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