FIFA Street is a game that feels somewhat topical to look at right now seeing as EA has brought a version of it back with the “Volta” mode in FIFA 20. I’ve yet to get to play this year’s FIFA release (though I plan to in the near future), but this was the first time I’d ever properly sat down to play a FIFA Street game, and I found it to be a pretty engrossing and addictive game. In a lot of ways, FIFA Street is the perfect game for a console like the GameCube, underpowered as it is when compared to the Xbox and PS2.
It might actually be unfair to call the GameCube the least powerful of the three main sixth gen consoles as, like its elder sibling, the N64, it was the format it used that caused most of its problems as opposed to the internal hardware of the machine itself. Whereas the N64 crippled a large number of its multi-plats (the astoundingly impressive port of Resident Evil 2 aside) by sticking the games on cartridges instead of CDs, it actually wasn’t bad at all as a piece of kit. Meanwhile with the GameCube, the fact that the console used mini-discs as opposed to DVDs meant that a litany of memory constraints would often cause multi-plats to be severely scaled down.
FIFA Street is not a game where such limitations pose an issue, however, as its four-a-side arcade-styled gameplay means that big chunks of memory aren’t really required. As such, it’s not only a supremely fun game to play, but it’s also a game that every GameCube sports fan should look to have in their collection. The game is even so fun that you could probably get a lot of mileage out of it, even if sports games aren’t necessarily up your street. Even though I haven’t played the game on the two other systems, from looking at videos it seems like smoother graphics are really all that separate the GameCube version of the game from the version you’d find on the Xbox, and considering the gameplay is the draw here to begin with, you’re not especially losing much from going with the GameCube version.
FIFA Street encourages you to do more than just score goals to win the game, with a large amount of your success being based around how well you can perform signature flicks and tricks to power up your trick meter. You can initiate a quick trick by pressing the “Y” button on the GameCube controller, which will not only fill your trick meter but will also start showing you directions that you will need to press on the GameCube’s C stick. Putting in these combinations at the right moment will see your player perform wild skill moves that will leave your opponents gasping, thus making it easier for you to slot the ball past the befuddled opposition goalkeeper.
Filling the trick bar will eventually allow you to pull off a ferocious “game breaker” shot, called as such because if you get it on target, then there’s little chance of it being saved. You should be advised not to use your game breaker shot willy-nilly though as it does not guarantee you a goal unless you aim it properly (although the computer-controlled opponents often have little trouble of finding the back of the net). I often found that sticking a long pass to the welcome head or boot of one of your teammates often carried the most success with game breaker attempts, but so long as you are patient and take your time, you should be able to make your attempt on goal count.
Due to you only having three outfield players on your side, the game becomes more about using your skill and finesse to keep the ball away from your opponents on the shortened playing area and then finding a way to slot the ball into the “onion bag” (called as such by in-game commentator MC Harvey). Each pitch is set in a city, with terrain ranging from the favelas of Brazil all the way to the mean old streets of London. In a nice touch, you can use the fact that the pitch is in an enclosed space to your advantage by bouncing the ball off the wall to get around opposing players and even using it to assist you when making a cross.
Being that the game takes place on the street, there are no fouls or offside rule, meaning you can hack away at the opposition to your heart’s content. However, you are still penalised for a sliding tackle as it takes the player doing it quite a while to get back to their feet, which means that even if you manage to stop one player attacking, their teammate can quickly get hold of the ball and mop up for them. A lot of the time, going for an attempted tackle will just see your player get nutmegged like an absolute plum, thus encouraging you to be more careful when defending as throwing in wild tackles will often just lead to the opposition skinning you and going on their merry way.
The main single-player experience of FIFA Street is known as “Rule the Street” and is based around the premise of you winning matches to earn points and “rep” so that you can sign better players and take part in local tournaments. You bring new players into your team by defeating them in a match, at which point they will agree to join your ranks. You build up your rep and points total by taking part in “Kick About” matches, where the first team to score 5 goals is declared the winner. The good thing about the kick about games is that you can still earn points even if you don’t win the match itself, thus giving you a chance to head back and improve the stats of your created player so that you can go back and have another bash.
I found Rule the Street mode to be incredibly addictive, even to the point that I was playing it late into the night. The lure of winning just one more match so that you can get the points you need to unlock players like Jay-Jay Okocha or Michael Ballack for your side is very strong indeed, and I was thoroughly engrossed. I got a lot of mileage out of FIFA Street in general and came to really enjoy the gameplay as well once I’d gotten the hang of it. It’s available on all of the major sixth gen consoles and is a game you should be looking out for if you own one of them.
Do you have fond memories of FIFA Street? Did you own it back in the day? Tell us your stories in the comments below.