The game isn't good, but hell, I had fun with it
Like most Nintendo games there is lack of realism and that is exactly why I like this game, I have played normal football games like Fifa and Pro Evolution Soccer and I didn't like any of them because there was no sense of humor. If you tackle somebody in NWC they make an hilarious face and fall face first into the dirt. You also don't have to bother with wind or where to hit the ball in order to make it past a wall of players. I also think it's funny that every sportsman looks like a bodybuilder in this game.
The game is pretty simple to play which is awesome because I never play sports games and I don't know a damned thing about soccer. A passes the ball and B shoots, that is something I can wrap my head around. Those two moves are all you need to play the game and even though it's simple, you can still perform advanced tactics when needed and you never feel like you don't have enough control over the game. I also think there are special moves you can pull off, but they seem to come at random when I play, so I am not sure.
You only control one player as opposed to most other games in this genre that have you switching between all the players in the team. The rest of the players are controlled by the AI and you can adjust their behaviour prior to starting a match and before starting the second half. During the match you can also tell them to pass or shoot the ball by pressing the buttons you'd use for those moves if you had the ball yourself.
You have a lot of teams you can choose from and somebody really made a brilliant move when they added the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the list of teams. The amount of teams is also rather staggering when you keep in mind that this is a NES game, not all teams are available and you can only play as the National ones, but the favorites are still playable (USA, England, Brazil and etc.).
The game is graphically very lacking and especially the sprites tend to flicker; parts of their bodies keep disappearing, the ball disappears entirely from time to time and often sprites just glitch out. It's very annoying and often makes it hard to perform tactics that require precision and timing. I think this is because there are too many sprites on the screen at the same time or maybe because I am using the cartridge with Super Mario Bros. and Tetris on it, but one way or another, it's very annoying.
Some of the later teams are very hard to play against and I am currently at the 10th match, but it's bordering impossible. The other teams pass the ball around flawlessly and never give you any time to tackle them or steal the ball. All of their shots are also special moves, they never shoot normally, so it's nearly impossible to stop them from scoring. It's also pretty unfair that they are always faster then you, I know difficulty was something very common in the 80's, but at least give the players a chance for crying out loud.
The music is very underwhelming and I barely even notice it, it's just exactly the same loop over and over again for roughly eight minutes. It's also so soft that it's hard to notice even if you're trying to, from time to time I even wondered if it hadn't glitched out like most of the sprites do.
Scoring is made nearly impossible, it doesn't matter how you shoot, nine out of ten times the keeper will dive to the other side of the goal and stop it anyway. You're only chance at scoring is to make him dive and then kick the ball into the goal while he is down, which looks stupid and starts to feel like a routine. Making him dive is very easy and once you know how to time your second move you will end almost every match with twenty against two.
The matches only last eight minutes each, but it doesn't feel like that at all. I am encountering the same problem with Resident Evil 4 which I am currently playing, I am only six hours into that game, but it feels like eighteen. It's the kind of game where you do so much in so little time and it just makes me feel tired. It's probably more of a personal problem because I have never heard anybody else talk about it, but it still bothers me.
The Bottom Line
Nintendo World Cup is a very buggy game that has more problems then pixels, but the odd thing is that I find it rather enjoyable. I don't like sports, I never watch football and normally I can't stand games with glitches like these. For all it's flaws I can still enjoy this game a lot when I play it with friends or when I play it for a few minutes every once in a while, it will get on your nerves when you play it for an hour straight or something.
It's a pretty fun game for all ages, especially the kids and the football fans. I do advice buying the version with Mario and Tetris on it though, just to make sure you will at least have one game you like on the cartridge.