Between the Gold Cup and my girlfriend now working weekend’s, I’ve had a lot of time recently to watch soccer and play video games.
This past weekend I decided to combine those two and fire up my Nintendo 64 with the hopes of taking the worst team on FIFA Road to the World Cup 98 to the promised land, and winning the whole damn World Cup.
For those who have never played it, FIFA 98 is one of the all-time great sports games, not because the gameplay was anything amazing, it’s OK and the AI is at times…uhh…less than great, but because it has every mode you can think of. Indoor soccer, international leagues for like 10 countries, and a full Road to the World Cup Mode.
The Road to the World Cup mode is not just picking 32 teams and playing the World Cup. No, no. This has over 170 teams, and you have to go through multiple rounds of regional qualifying to even make it to the World Cup.
Roughly six years earlier my roommate and I made the World Cup with Vanuatu, the second worst team on the game, but really it wasn’t much of a challenge because they play in the Oceanic Football Confederation, and all the teams, outside of Australia, are pretty much equally terrible. We made it to the group stage of the World Cup, where we were somehow knocked out by fucking Canada. What a joke.
And so that led me to picking the Maldive Islands, who as you can see above are rated a 2-out-of-10, the only team on the game to be rated worse than a 3, and the only team in the Asian confederation to be worse than a 4. Needless to say, this was not going to be easy.
Oh, and the Asian confederation gets 3.5 bids on the game for 32 teams. Three automatic bids, and then one bid in a playoff game featuring the 4th place team against the champion of the Oceanic confederation.
The biggest thing that hampered my team on the game, is they were insanely slow, and the goalie was borderline useless. Using a 1 to 100 scale for player attributes, the fastest guy on Maldive Islands is a 64, so there is no chance we are catching up to anyone in the open field.
I kept the game on standard options, six-minute halves, and pro difficulty, the middle of the three difficulties. (I played one game mistakenly on amateur and beat a team 7-2, so I knew I couldn’t do that anymore)
It took me four tries just to get past the first round of Asian qualifying.
The teams in my opening part of qualifying were Syria, Iran, and Kyrgyzstan. Who rated as 7, 6, and 7 on the 1-10 scale. Needless to say, in real life Maldive Islands was the sacrificially lamb who was there to give the other three an easy win.
The first attempt, I lost one, tied two, and then simmed the remaining three because I was already so far out of it, having needed to win the damn group to move on to the SECOND set of qualifiers.
On another try, after winning the first game against Iran, we took on Kyrgyzstan and took an early lead…only to have FIVE players get injured in the game. FIVE. As in, we used all three subs in the first half, then had two more guys get injured later and they were forced to stay on the field because there were no subs left. The injured guys who remained on the field could literally only walk and pass. They couldn’t run, couldn’t tackle, and aside from being an outlet when you needed an emergency pass, were basically road cones.
At one point we were down to our third-string striker, which, is basically like sending you our me out there when it comes to the depth of the Maldive Islands team.
Needless to say with FIVE players injured after two games, we did not advance.
After two more failed attempts, we finally broke through and exited the group stage. A Pair of wins over Iran, one of Syria, and two ties gave us the group, so I simulated the last game against Syria (which we lost).
And I couldn’t get out of the second stage.
It took four tries to get out of the opening group with only six games, and in the second round you’d be playing up to 10 games, eight against your pool, then possibly two more if you advanced to the knock-out stage. And the competition has ramped up, with the worst teams all around 6 of 7 overall, and a few at 8.
Even worse: if you failed and didn’t save (my memory card wasn’t big enough) you had to start the whole Road to the World Cup over again, and play all those matches against Iran, Syria, and Krygyzstan again.
Needless to say, I never did win the World Cup with the Maldive Islands, but I probably won more games with them than they have in their entire FIFA existence. Now, they’re just known as Maldives, and sit at 142 in the FIFA rankings, which is way higher than I expected them to bed.
So yeah, if you’ve ever won the World Cup with Maldive Islands on the game on a difficulty above amateur, let me know, because it seems impossible.