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Retro Respawn – FIFA 06: Road to FIFA World Cup

I dove in pretty early during the seventh generation. I mean, we’re talking the first half of 2006, which is probably the earliest I’ve ever entered such a foray. For instance, the PS4 had been out for a year until I finally picked one up, and even then I was in no rush to get it and kind of just got it to have it if anything else, lacking as it was in killer game releases at that stage.

My console of choice for the seventh gen was actually the Xbox 360, which was the first time I’d not gone with Sony since the fifth gen. I think what pushed me towards the 360 was a combination of factors.

Firstly, the 360 hit shelves while I was still in college and a few months away from starting at University. Due to living at home and having a crappy retail job, I not only had some sizeable disposable income to hand for the first real time in my life, but I was also in a position where I could get discounts on electrical goods from the store where I worked. Thus, it made sense to me to get the console while I was actually capable of doing so, before University financially and mentally annihilated me.

But another big reason why I decided to go for the console was based around the brief positive experiences I’d had while playing it. Back during my college days, I used to hang around with a guy named Mario. He was a decent bloke and we shared a mutual love of both pro-wrestling and video games. As consequence, we’d sometimes head into Stockport on our half days at college to mooch around stores and generally slack off like the no-nothing, directionless late teens we were.

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We’d usually get into Stockport, have a Subway, and then venture into the, admittedly rather dire, shopping precincts to blow money on DVDs, CDs, and video games. Ah, to be young again. I seem to recall Mario had a crush on a girl who worked in one of the music stores, so we’d always pop in and I’d amuse myself by watching him very awkwardly flirt with her while pretending I was actually perusing the smooth jazz aisle.

Due to us both being video game enthusiasts, we’d regularly visit (the now sadly defunct) Game Station and take a look at what the new releases were. During our second year in college, GS finally got an Xbox 360 set up. and with it was a game that really opened both our eyes to what we could expect in the seventh generation when it came to graphics. That game was FIFA 06: Road to FIFA World Cup.

With a roster of merely 72 teams, Electronic Arts decided to turn the game into little more than a high end tech demo for what the 360 was capable of, and it blew my tiny little mind when I first saw it!

Even playing it today, the game looks positively sumptuous, even more so than some of the games that succeeded it! Of course, those games did have much bigger rosters to work with, so they can perhaps be forgiven to not matching up to RTFWC’s excellent presentation.

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I’d never seen graphics even remotely this good for in-game play before, and it laid an egg in my memory banks that eventually hatched in the spring/summer of 2006 with me deciding to bite the bullet and switch my allegiance from Sony to Microsoft for the upcoming generation.

Mario wasn’t really a football fan (excluding a couple of months after the 2006 World Cup where he suddenly became a massive Italy fan for a while, being they were the World Champs and all. Kind of like how loads of Kopites suddenly came out of the woodwork following Istanbul and then promptly bogging off again until it looked like Liverpool might win the League in 2014), but he quickly got into RTFWC, and we regularly played it in the store.

We played the same match every time, England Vs Canada, with the CPU being Canada. I don’t really know how this rivalry came to be, but we must have faced those pesky seal clubbers umpteen times, with them usually winning to boot!

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It was a sad day when we went into GS one week to find that RTFWC had been replaced with the actual 2006 World Cup game which, though it had many more teams on its roster, had comparatively much worse graphics.

Despite the role RTFWC played in making me join the seventh generation, the game has aged horribly in every area but its graphics. For all its graphical might, the game is nothing more than an early to mid 00s FIFA game, which means its controls are thoroughly pish, and any hardened football game player will find the game an utter chore to play.

So, I wouldn’t recommend hunting it down. If you see it in a bargain bin for 50p, it might be worth picking up to enjoy the graphical prowess of such an early title and then banish it to your favourite cupboard/drawer/cellar/attic/dungeon of choice forevermore.

As for Mario? Sadly, we haven’t kept in touch. I know he had a kid a few years back. If by any chance you end up reading this Maz, I hope you and the nipper are well!

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As always, I’ll post some footage of the game below.

Thanks for reading

Until next time;

Come On You Blues!!!

You can view YouTube Footage of the game, courtesy once again of JohnGodgames who has made finding game footage much easier for me recently, by clicking right HERE

Seriously, give his channel a butchers, he’s been a God Send (no pun intended) the past few weeks 😉

Looking for other great content here on the site? Well, then take a goosey gander at the following golden nuggets of game writing!

Stephen takes a look at 90 Minute Fever, and you can read all about it by clicking right HERE

Will’s GenreQuest has hit Part 17, and is still going strong! Have a look at one of GR’s most enduring and enjoyable features by clicking right HERE

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