FIFA Soccer '96 (Sega 32X) review
"The most relevant review you'll read all year."
It could be argued that no game sums up the sorrowful saga that was the ill-fated 32X as well as FIFA Ď96 does. Both game and console were sandwiched mercilessly between two generations that were each effortlessly more relevant. Both were never really sure where they belonged, failing to eke out an existence in some shadowy middle ground that didn't really exist. Championed by few, ignored by many and point blank unknown by significantly more. A head-scratching oddity that was perhaps always doomed..
The year before, FIFA Ď95 was a shallow release, appearing on scant platforms, but that was never going to be the case with FIFA Ď96. It was everywhere; on 16-bit consoles looking for a few last gasps of relevance, on handhelds people had forgotten existed and on the newer, shinier 32-bit systems chomping for a foothold. But all efforts mostly fluctuated between prettier versions of two basic foundations; the honest and stumbling first forays into poly-drafted 3D footballing, and the tried and tested pixel simplicity of earlier consoles.
EA bought in then-independent developers Probe (pre-ruining via Acclaim) to run rule over the older consoles releases, so they also got stuck with the 32X port. It could be argued that perhaps the best thing they could have done was release a shinier version of the 16-bit Mega Drive strain - it would have been easy. Clean up the graphics, showcase the (slightly) higher pallette capability of the machine and add in some crisper sounds. If they were feeling adventurous, chuck in a few extra lower league outfits. No one would have blamed them; no one would have cared. The 32X version was released in Europe only where the quasi-consoleís sales were the most disastrous. The (full) 32-bit strain was a day-one release for both the Playstation and Saturn, featuring then unheard of additions like in-game commentary and noticeably different stadiums being used. The 32X version had no hope of matching this but, bless Probe, they tried anyway.
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