Sorry EA, but WE6FE kicks FIFAs ass. It’s just too bad that Konami doesn’t have the huevoes to bring it to North America, or Europe for that matter. Konami, listen up. Forget ISS. Forget ExtraTime. We want this in English!
Special thanks to our good friends at Video
Game Depot for sending us our copies to write about!
Konami has released 2 different simulations on the GameCube already in the form of Jikkyo World Soccer (ISS in Europe), and a totally different (and terrible, for that matter) ESPN MLS ExtraTime here in North America. Konami’s biggest soccer series worldwide is Winning Eleven, known as Pro Evolution in Europe, which has finally arrived on the GameCube in the Japanese market. Just to explain how big this game is in Japan, Winning Eleven 6 was the second best selling title for 2002. For Winning Eleven to finally land on the GameCube is actually a very large milestone for Konami Japan. Tragically, it was announced a few weeks ago that this title would not be making it stateside, and today Konami announced an ISS 3 for Europe (a totally different game). So anyone wishing to get their hands on Konami’s absolute premier soccer series on the GameCube is forced to import. Since I’m a soccer game junky, and never had an import PS2, I was thrilled to finally play this game.
Upon booting up, a message came on the screen telling me that my Memory Card wasn’t large enough. This was after I put in a newly Japanese formatted memory card. I looked at the game box and saw that WE6FE takes up a whopping 98 blocks! When you even try to save anything, the game seems to ask for a Memory Card 251 to save stats, seasons, or teams. As far as I can tell, WE6FE will eat up an entire 251. Unfortunately, my gameplay experience is limited because I’m short a new 251 format for Japanese play. But, with all that can be done with this game, it’s almost understandable why you would need that much space.
WE6FE is an extremely deep soccer simulation, to say the least. I would have to compare it to the likes of Madden 2003 for how much meat is on this disc. Friendlies, Match Play, Club Play, Create-A-Team, Team Editor, Tutorial, and even a mini game mode (which in a way is like Madden’s Mini Camp mode). There’s so much in this game, it’s absolutely astounding for any soccer addict. With only 2 days of gameplay, a shortage of a memory card, and a lack of any Japanese skills, I know I still haven’t even scratched the surface of what WE6FE has to offer.
I went into my first game thinking it would play identical to Jikkyo World Soccer (ISS). At first I thought it felt similar, but after I got trounced 4-0, I quickly realized I really needed to figure out the controls if I was going to be able to do anything on the field. The control scheme is very complex, and would take a separate article to explain how to do everything (it takes up 6 pages in the manual). Fortunately, there’s a tutorial which walks you through all the different moves. It’s actually so expansive that I still don’t know how to do every advanced move yet. There is so much control you can have over your selected player and for your entire team.
Once you figure everything out (or at least get a better grip on it), WE6FE truly plays like a dream. The learning curve is very steep, and could turn off more casual soccer players. It took me 4 games to actually score a goal, and I’m a veteran soccer gamer. Then again, I had the difficulty cranked up rather high. The AI isn’t forgiving, and will force you to learn the controls and really play as a team. You won’t be scoring cheap shots, even against bad teams with poor goalies. There are practice modes and mini games that really help refine your skills. Playing with friends will also help you to become a better player.
WE6FE isn’t as graphically polished as a FIFA game, but is still superior overall. On the one side, the animations of the players are brilliant. Jukes, dives, slides, headers, and everything look fluid and very realistic. WE6FE doesn’t seem to have the subtle sluggishness that the FIFA franchise has. The stadiums are decent looking and well represented. The instant replay system is incredible until you realize how polygonal the players are. You can tell it was a conversion of a PS2 game. They’re not overly blocky, but you can tell they’re not pushing the envelope with the GameCube’s power. Everything does flow at a quick pace, and there’s absolutely no slowdown.
The sound effects and commentary are commendable. In fact, I’ve never heard such good, simple sound effects like the swish-zing of pounding a ball into the net, or the ping when the ball hits the post. Even though I can’t understand the commentary, I think it’s great. The two commentators are very excitable, and it plays well with what’s going on in the game. “Goooal! Goooooaaaal Gooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal!” is pretty universal.
Honestly, the only thing that really sucks about WE6FE is that it’s all in Japanese. Just figuring out how to get things setup is extremely difficult if you have no general Japanese knowledge. In general, trying to get my friends to play Japanese games is difficult, especially if they can’t read a manual and they’re forced to sit through the tutorial. At least there is a tutorial, but since the controls are so complex, a translation is necessary to really enjoy this game. This is another reason why we’re going to be working on a full menu translation and a FAQ. It’s going to be a pain in the ass, but I think it’s worth it to play WE6FE.
It’s an absolute shame that Konami isn’t releasing WE6FE in North America. I can understand why my friends who have import PS2s rage about this series. Winning Eleven is what real hardcore soccer gamers want. I’ll admit that after playing through so many different soccer games on the GameCube already, I don’t think I’ll be getting another one after this, unless they make a sequel. I’m very satisfied.