90 Minutes: Sega Championship Football - Dreamcast

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Viewed: 3D Combination Genre:
Sport: Football - Soccer
Arcade origin:No
Developer: Smilebit Soft. Co.: SEGA
Publishers: SEGA (DE/ES/FR/GB)
Released: 26 Oct 2001 (DE/ES/FR/GB)
Ratings: 3+
Accessories: Visual Memory Card


Football on the Sega Dreamcast is going out with a bang rather than a whimper. Sega’s doomed machine has been host to a limited number of football titles, and 90 Minutes is right up there with Virtua Striker, vying for top spot. It’s easy to see why, despite the demise of the console, 90 Minutes is granted a UK release: it’s a fine, fine playing experience, and if your fancy is tickled by footy games, anything beyond 90 Minutes is surplus to requirements, unless your game ends in stalemate, of course.

The presentation and menus in 90 Minutes are very arcade-y, but dig deep into the game and you will find yourself needing to find some extra time of your own to fit all the frantic football action into your life. Multiple modes mean options aplenty, and 90 Minutes doesn’t disappoint. For a quick fix, there’s Exhibition Mode, and for the longer term, you can take part in a National League competition in Germany, France and several other European countries, or create your own knockout competition in Original Cup. International teams are available for selection in World Championship Mode, a competition based on the FIFA World Cup. So much so that all the biggest European and South American teams are represented, whereas the likes of Liechtenstein and Latvia are nowhere to be seen. This is only a minor niggle, however. There’s a saying in contemporary football, intimating that there are no longer any easy international games. The makers of 90 Minutes are obviously fully aware of this, as the AI of any team selected for the computer will testify. It will not let you rest, and will keep you coming back again and again.

The trick is to get familiar as quickly as possible with the control system if you want to get anywhere with 90 Minutes. It’s customisable, so there’s no excuse, and there’s a Training Mode included, so you can ease yourself in gently. There are many things you can change in the options menu: game speed and difficulty, weather conditions, time of day and choice of venue are just some of the things to play around with. Alan Parry, formerly of Sky Sports, is present on the audio track, and while his utterances are well synchronised with the action, some of the things he says are, umm, shall we say odd, even by football commentary standards. A very nice touch is the playing of national anthems, albeit shortened versions, as international teams line up before kick off. Sega haven’t gone overboard with the visual detail in 90 Minutes, but a handful of players are recognisable by their features, David Seaman’s ridiculous ponytail, for instance, and the way defenders react when scored against is very realistic.

90 Minutes is sure to be a favourite with the soccer-loving Dreamcast faithful. Fans of the ISS series on those other consoles from that other manufacturer may well have their heads turned by this game. It really is every bit as good.