FIFA Soccer 96

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When FIFA Soccer 96 first hit the market years ago, it became the standard by which all other soccer sims were measured. This edition was no different then the early version form the series.

FIFA Soccer 96 adds faster and more realistic gameplay; new options such as expanded league game, expert mode and practice mode; and two levels of play. The Semipro level is a faster arcade game, while the professional level is more difficult and more realistic.

The gameplay and controls, which were sometimes agitated in the past, have been smoothed out. While the Genesis version still plays a little slower than the SNES version, it still controls better.

The one knock against FIFA in the past was that it didn’t have a Practice mode, which most soccer sims offered. Critics can offer that complaint no more: The new Practice mode is a great place for beginners to hone their skills and for experts to perfect trick shots.

World Champ Graphics in FIFA Soccer 96

The graphics improved from last year, especially for the players. New SGI-rendered animations give these larger sprites more realistic movements. The superb sound for FIFA Genesis is more exciting than the SNES version’s. The crowd chants, sings songs, and basically goes crazy whenever a goal is scored. If you’re into soccer and you’re in the market for a Genesis sim, look no further than FIFA Soccer 96. If you don’t own a Genesis, go out and buy one. FIFA ’96 is that good.

With SGI-rendered graphics, the players sport a much cleaner and slightly larger look. The character animations are more realistic, and even the stadium looks better. The sound for FIFA is a little disappointing for the SNES. It’s still better than most, but you won’t get that European flavor of crowd noise (like chanting and singing) that made past FIFA games so authentic. The announcer used to go wild when a team scored, but the new English announcer blandly says, “It’s a goal.”

Although the sound earns a yellow card in this go-around, FIFA ’96 delves deeper into the international world of soccer. FIFA Soccer ’96 still has no worthy SNES rivals.

FIFA Soccer 96 (also known as FIFA 96: Virtual Soccer Stadium) is a video game developed by Extended Play Productions and released by Electronic Arts in 1995. It was released for the Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, Sega 32X, Sega Game Gear, PlayStation, Super Nintendo Entertainment System and DOS systems.

FIFA 96 is the third entry in the FIFA Series, its tagline being Next Generation Soccer. It was the first in the series to feature real-time 3D graphics on the Sega Saturn, PlayStation, 32X, and DOS versions, using technology called “Virtual Stadium”. The SNES and Genesis editions used the FIFA ’95 engine. It is also the first in the series to use real player names and positions, with ranking, transfer and team customisation tools.

The game was a bestseller in the UK. For the DOS version PC Gamer gave a 92 out of 100.

Reviewing the PlayStation version, Maximum applauded the game for the realism in the player controls and AI behavior, as well as the large number of features, such as the multiple camera angles and league play. They summarized “The remarkably user-friendly options ensure that even the most demanding players will be satisfied, and once the game begins properly, you will appreciate the time and honing skill that has been lavished upon this product by the truly professional EA Sports coders.”[2] Tommy Glide of GamePro hailed the game for its realism as well, saying it managed to surpass even the 3DO version of FIFA International Soccer. He praised the use of more than 3,000 real players, the realistic passing controls, and the audio commentary.

FIFA Soccer 96

 

FIFA Soccer 96

 

Rob Allsetter of Sega Saturn Magazine applauded the comprehensive selection of players, customizing options, and camera angles, but complained that the animation is “both slow and slightly jittery.” He concluded, “FIFA Soccer 96 makes a brave attempt to capture the real thrill of football. At the end of it all though, it lacks the smoothness and speed to merit championship distinction.” The two sports reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly both gave the Saturn version an 8 out of 10, particularly praising the multiple camera angles and the play-by-play commentary, both of which they felt made the game very lifelike. GamePro too praised the camera angles, but put greater emphasis on the deep gameplay. Comparing it to the PlayStation version, they remarked that the Saturn version has more vibrant colors and larger sprites, but rougher characters and less smooth scrolling. Maximum highly criticized it as having a lower frame rate than the PlayStation version, adding that other Saturn ports of soccer games all were very close to the originals. Despite this, they declared FIFA 96 “the dominant soccer in the Saturn market” due to the advanced gameplay mechanics and the weakness of the competition. A Next Generation critic was wildly enthusiastic about the game’s accurate recreation of real professional soccer, particularly remarking that it is possible to identify individual players on the field just by looking at them, and that executing game plans produces realistic results. He added that even with all the devotion to realism, the game is also tremendously fun, and concluded to be one of the best games for the Saturn.

Reviewing the Genesis version, a Next Generation critic judged that the game continued the FIFA tradition of improving with each installment, particularly praising the inclusion of real soccer leagues and players. He concluded, “While the Genesis version can’t hold a candle to the near-perfect 3DO version [of FIFA International Soccer], it’s still the best 16-bit soccer available and a great game beyond that.”[4] Next Generation’s reviews of the Windows and Super NES versions were similarly laudatory, casting praise at the animations, commentary, maneuvers, real world teams, choice of camera angles, and simple play control. GamePro’s The Athletic Supporter was also highly pleased with the Genesis and Super NES versions, saying they improved over the previous FIFA with smoother, more realistic graphics and added modes and features. He noted that the Super NES version plays faster than the Genesis version but lacks the Genesis version’s exciting crowd noise.

Game Pro’s brief review of the Game Boy version stated that it “may be the best sports title of the year for the handheld systems. All the moves – like tackles, headers, and bicycle kicks – are included along with countless teams from the U.S., Europe, and South America.”

FIFA Soccer 96 Platform(s)

  • Windows DOS
  • Sega 32X
  • Sega Genesis
  • SNES
  • Game Boy
  • Sega Game Gear
  • PlayStation
  • Sega Saturn