With Cobi Jones is on the cover, it HAS to be good.
Sarcasm aside, Worldwide Soccer ’97 actually is good. Unlike the original (which couldn’t even decide on its own name), Worldwide Soccer ’97 is a lot smoother and a more finely honed package. With cool graphics, a realistic announcer, and 48 teams to choose from, this is one of the best soccer games to come out for the Saturn yet.
The graphics in Worldwide Soccer ’97 are some of the smoothest ever in a soccer game. All the graphics can be influenced by environmental conditions. At night, realistic shadows are cast around each player by the field lights. In the rain, the screen is covered with rain drops and the field is damp. Just like its predecessor, you can choose three viewing distances: really close, medium distance, or far away. This time, however, they took those controls off of the L and R buttons, so you couldn’t hit them accidentally during play. You can also choose from three different viewing angles during play, so you can find the one most comfortable to you. In the stands, your crowds of supporters are waving the flags of your team. With only three different soccer fields to choose from, you do feel a little ripped off, but trust me, the stadium really doesn’t matter.
The play itself is fantastic. Players can fake opponents out, backpass, and even flick the ball over their heads with their heels. Each player is smoother and more realistic than the original Worldwide Soccer. You can actually execute plays as you run down the field. After you score a goal, the scorer does a randomly selected victory celebration, something that should be a must for any soccer game.
One of the most interesting additions to Worldwide Soccer ’97 is the realistic announcer. Not only does he call plays and predict goals, but also he argues with the referee’s call and comments on the replays. Unlike announcers in the past, this one doesn’t sound disjointed, he actually sounds like he’s watching you play. This excellent feature makes you glad that you own a CD based system.
While the original Worldwide Soccer was released in Japan designed for the J-league, then released in the US with the team names changed to different countries, Worldwide Soccer ’97 was actually designed with world teams. Meant to look like the World Cup, this game has teams from all over the globe, but none of the actual players. To get around this, Sega included an option for you to change the players names to the real ones or to anything you want (I prefer a team with all the players named Gunther.)
Unfortunately, due to the success of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the subsequent name recognition for all the good players, Sega felt the need to put one of these players on the cover to boost sales. Enter Cobi Jones. A player for the Los Angeles Galaxy, he was put on the cover of the box as a last minute PR boost. We at Game Revolution even received a press release titled, and I quote, ‘Sega Sports Chooses Soccer Star Cobi Jones For Box Cover.’ For good measure, they also put him in as a player on the USA team. Unfortunately, the player named Cobi Jones in Worldwide Soccer ’97 is white. Oops, Sega.
In closing, Worldwide Soccer ’97 is an excellent soccer game that everyone should enjoy immensely. The only things that would make this game better is the inclusion of the actual players, more stadiums, and just more options. Sports fans looking for a good soccer game for the Saturn should snatch this one off the shelves.