European Club Soccer
From Kick Off World of Soccer - wikickoff
European Club Soccer is a 1992 football videogame by Krisalis released for the Sega Mega Drive mostly based on Manchester United Europe, released one year before for the Commodore Amiga, among other platforms. Like the previously endorsed game, European Club Soccer focus on european competitions, but with only on the European Champions Cup, which can be explained by the lower capacity of the console and the lack of differences between competitions other than the number of teams. If the player won the Champions Cup, the ending credits will only appear if the player beats a South American team in the Intercontinental Cup.
Until the release of FIFA Int. Soccer roughly two years later, it was considered the best football game in the console and the one with more detailed graphics.
Game modes and options
The game only allows to play friendlies and the Champions' Cup. Options allow to choose game length (from 4 to 90 minutes), difficulty and player change control.
There are two known cheat codes: adding "THREE SHREADDED WHEAT" in different lines allows the player teams to shoot harder with simply button touches, "QUITTER" allows quitting and still winning the match.
European Club Soccer has dozens of teams from all across Europe (around 170), and each country was represented by at least two teams. In addition to correct club names, it also has perfectly recognizable imitations of team badges and kits, although the plain kits (which can also be changed with an editor) mean teams with other than plain kits like Juventus, FC Porto or Celtic F.C., for instance would have their kits simplified (Juventus had a silver shirt, Porto blue and Celtic green). Player names, on the other hand, were made by mixing names found on real squads, with some poor results. Portuguese teams, for instance, had a large number of Yugoslavian players in the early nineties, and that was reflected by players with names such as Valentim Ivic (of Valentim Loureiro and Tomislav Ivic, then Boavista FC chairman and SL Benfica manager, respectively). Names could not be changed, and since the game lacked a battery (like the vast majority of games then), it does not store changes done to kits and passwords were used to resume tournaments (example of a password sheet).
Gameplay is simple, and works only with two of the buttons of the gamepad - B was used to pass the ball low, and C to lob the ball. While a typical button to shoot is absent, if a button is held pressed, when released the ball goes at a much higher speed. The directional button could also be used to give aftertouch in lobbed balls and change direction or touching the ball backwards with the heel in low passes. Optionally, the A button can be used to swap to the nearest player, if the automatic option is disabled.
There are several ways to score goals, including crosses from the line, high balls, fooling the goalkeeper, strong shots and also free kicks, but the way the game is more recalled for is simply making a lob from the center circle (the precise spot changes according to the quality of the team) with a midfielder, and head the ball from the top of the area, taking advantage of the misplaced goalkeeper, that dives to knock the ball where it is supposed to hit the grass.
The game puts several tactics at the disposal of the player, while the computer has a predefined tactic for each team. Each tactic has its own advantage: the 4-3-3 tactic using a sweeper is the only one that allows a player to recover if the goalkeeper is beaten and 4-4-2 allows great midfield control from the wings, for instance.
While European Club Soccer was only released for the european Mega Drive, the Japanese market received J. League Champion Soccer and the Genesis World Trophy Soccer. The first, as the name points out, it's based on a league system with J-League teams, and the later replaced european clubs with worldwide national teams, but with a much more limited selection. The winning screens on both games feature a player and a goalkeeper raising the champions cup, which removes any doubt of what was the original title.