Italia 90 – a great World Cup if you were English (well, up til the end of the Semi Final). Probably released to cash in on the Greatest Football Tournament on Earth, ‘Football Champ’ was Taito’s quirky and immensely playable Football arcade game. The Greatest Football Arcade Game on Earth. according to me.
This was another Summer ’90 / ’91 Drayton Manor Arcade experience, and this one was jostling with Operation Wolf & Final Fight for my meagre earnings (believe it or not, but students working part time seasonal jobs at Theme Parks are not paid huge amounts of money. FACT.)
There was a luxury version of this game, with a little bench, and a huge (well, 40 inches or so) screen positioned roughly 2 or 3 metres away from you. If memory serves correct. And it doesn’t always.
The football was based around an International Competition (ie The World Cup in all but name). You could play as most of the major teams (including England), and matches lasted around 2 minutes. Control was fairly basic – it was short pass / long pass / shoot at goal. But there was the added joy of violence when you were not on the ball. Yes, you could pile in with a vicious slide tackle, you could attempt a Harald Schumacher type foul where you lead with your knee, or you could just punch the opposition in the face;
if you got caught by the referee, you could get a yellow or red. The idea was to floor him from behind first, then go on your merry way, crippling the opponents. It just wasn’t sporting. But it was funny.
The action was fast, frenetic, and there were sweet spots on the pitch that, if you timed it right, you could lob the ball over the goalie as he grasps at thin air. Getting the time and space to perform this move was not always possible though, as opponents always seemed to be harrying and hassling, which made the goals,when they did go in, even sweeter.
Playing it laughs, Taito appear to have gone for comedy and caricature for their characters in the game. Check out those curtains (ie the haircut) on the Dutch Manager (he looks a bit like Steve Buscemi);
It was a wonderful, fun game. Loads of re-playability. And the reward for winning the Tournament was the magnificent “All your base are belong to us’ lite;
and you can play it on MAME. You should try it.
If you want the definitive account of Football Champ, then I would like to direct you to this fantastic piece;
there is a little bit about ‘Super Shots’, something I never heard of before. They even have some footage on youtube of someone doing these hallowed moves, for goodness sake.
‘You Are Hero’ and various other screenshots are courtesy of
The Football Champ flyer is courtesy of;