Tehkan World Cup

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Tehkan World Cup
North American arcade flyer of Tehkan World Cup.
North American arcade flyer
Developer(s) Tehkan
Publisher(s) Tecmo
Composer(s) Tsukasa Masuko
Platform(s) Arcade
Genre(s) Sports game (soccer)
Mode(s) Single-player
Display Color raster, horizontally orientated

Tehkan World Cup, aka. Tecmo Cup, is the first multi-player soccer game featuring a trackball controller.[3] Programmed by Michishito Ishizuka it was released to arcades in 1985 by Tehkan, Ltd., the former name of Tecmo, Inc. Its arrival coincided with the buildup to the 1986 FIFA World Cup. It featured the then colors of several of the world's top teams such as West Germany, Argentina and Brazil, although it did not mention any team by name. It was most commonly released in a cocktail cabinet form factor, while graphically it offered a two-dimensional birds-eye view of the field that was unique for its time. Its trackball control system contributed significantly to its gameplay which was relatively speedy and exhibited a fluidity something akin to ice hockey, with as little as 3 seconds required to score from kick-off. Two-player action could be highly competitive, with players facing each other across the game space while using sweeping arm movements reminiscent of table tennis. Mechanical reliability proved to be the game's Achilles' heel, as the physical nature of play necessitated regular maintenance on high-wear components.

Tehkan World Cup was released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2 and in 2005 for the Xbox, in both cases under the name Tecmo Cup.



Overview and control system[edit]

Unlike later games such as the FIFA series, Tehkan World Cup automates several elements of control related to releasing and receiving the ball. When passing and shooting, the velocity, direction and to some extent the height of the ball are determined by the human players, but not the method by which the virtual player must execute these instructions. The part of the body used (for example, left foot, right foot, head, chest or knee) while dependent largely on the height of the ball, is determined automatically by the game. In some cases, whether the virtual player must first control the ball before releasing it again, or whether they may pass or shoot with their first touch, is also determined by the computer. These simplifications, perhaps made under the assumption that World Cup-caliber players have fully mastered the basics of the sport, allow human players to concentrate on the context of play, resulting in gameplay that is more flowing and free of technical error. The movements of players off the ball and team formations are also fully automated.


Tehkan World Cup is a two-dimensional top-down scrolling soccer game in which the player(s) control the virtual player on their team who is closest to the ball, highlighted by small flashing arrows, with the ball sticking to the feet of the player in possession and the trackball determining the speed and direction at which he runs. With impetus the trackball can spin freely, its inertia and momentum translating onto the movements of the highlighted player. Thus, as the trackball is accelerated by human hand and decelerated under its own friction, so too does the virtual player under its control appear to accelerate and decelerate on the field. This interaction made possible by the combination of analog trackball and the programing of variable player running speeds produces an interface that is fairly intuitive and with a real-world feel. The importance of the trackball to the game's playability and longevity is revealed in versions of Tehkan World Cup packaged instead with digital joystick control. In such variants, the virtual players start and stop instantaneously and thus exhibit zero mass in a similar vein to other sprite-based games of the era such as Donkey Kong, with the game lacking much of its fluidity and nuance.

Kick button[edit]

A single push-button labeled "Kick" (duplicated on either side of the trackball for left or right handed players) causes the virtual player in possession to release the ball with the same force and direction at which the trackball is spinning, which also coincides with the direction in which the player is currently running. The action of kicking is therefore used to pass and also shoot, depending on where the ball is aimed. Depending on how the Kick button is used, various different actions (such as a direct, driven pass, a volley, a lofted cross, etc., can be commanded.

Low, driven pass/shot; the smack-down[edit]

Holding the Kick button for more than a fraction of a second results in a low, driven kick along the ground.[4] A strong kick in this manner if driven too close to another player will cause him to lie flat on the ground as if struck (a smack down). Passes which arrive at players with high velocity (but do not floor them) are required to be controlled before the receiver can pass again, run or shoot. A softer pass, on the other hand, can be collected and converted into a one-touch pass or shot with a single movement, i.e. volleyed. The astute human player will apply a weight to each pass that is appropriate to the context of play.

One-touch pass/shot (Additive Vector Rule)[edit]

As implied above, the appropriate weight of pass may be received and released with a single touch by holding the Kick button and spinning the trackball in the direction of release. This function may be used to affect a volleyed shot or one-touch pass to a team mate. An important aspect of gameplay is that the vector of the ball being received is added to the trackball's vector when the ball is released. This Additive Vector Rule can be used to create an additive effect on the ball's velocity when a powerful volley is desired. With skill it can also be used to create glancing headers, flick-ons or rapid one-touch passing moves intended to pierce a defense.

High, lofted pass/shot/chip[edit]

Tapping the kick button quickly causes a high kick which may be given enough height to clear the reach of other players, the opposing goalkeeper or the crossbar. This can be used to pass from defense directly to the attackers in a soccer move known as Route One. It is possible to combine a lofted ball with a volley to create an unstoppable shot which in the context of Two-Player games may be considered unsporting. In some circumstances, particularly from the area of the corner flag against a CPU team, it is possible to use a high pass to chip the ball over the opposing goalkeeper for a goal.


The volley is a one-touch pass set up by a lofted pass or cross. It generally delivers a shot with the highest sting the game can provide which makes it an important tool against opponents of higher quality. If the ball is of sufficient height it will be struck with the head instead of the foot, but this distinction is outside the control of human players and has no effect on the action.


A lay-off can be exacted by placing a soft pass to an area in front of a team mate such that he can run towards it and collect it or shoot first time. Care must be taken to weight the pass such that it stops before running out of play or is not over hit to an opponent. A lay-off can be combined with a one-touch shot to surprise a goalkeeper. Lay-offs are seldom used in Tehkan World Cup; the running speed of advanced CPU opponents renders them impractical in a race to the ball. In Two-Player games, lay-offs can be used to exact a shot that reaches the net before the CPU releases control of the goalkeeper to the defending human player. In some cases this is impossible to defend and may therefore be considered unsporting.


A knock-down is a volley used as a pass towards a team mate. It can be used to wrong-foot a defense. Knock-downs are difficult to execute because of the Additive Vector Rule and because they rely on team mates being in open space far enough from the ball to avoid a smack down.

Curved ball[edit]

It is reported by some players that Tehkan World Cup supports curved balls either by applying a curving motion to the trackball or through an aftertouch feature similar to that of Sensible Soccer. Indeed, curved balls are occasionally seen during gameplay, but as these are not documented by Tehkan and it is not immediately apparent how they were executed, they may be a result of a bug.


When not in possession, the player closest to the ball is highlighted and the trackball is used to attempt to steal or intercept the ball. The Kick button has no function while defending; sliding tackles are initiated exclusively by the computer. Unlike other games where the highlighted player can be reselected, the only way to change the player under control is to move the current highlighted player away from the ball or off the screen such that he is no longer the defending player closest to the ball, at which time the new player closest to the ball becomes highlighted.


When a shot is aimed towards the goal, control for the defending player automatically switches to the goalkeeper. The goalkeeper can be motioned via the trackball to intercept the ball at which time he will catch it or attempt a diving save. In some cases the goalkeeper will parry the ball after a diving save, but in Tehkan World Cup the goalkeepers never push the ball over the crossbar and rarely commit errors.

Screen layout[edit]

Because only a portion of the field is viewable at a time and scrolls with the movement of the ball, a miniature "radar map" of the field is overlaid on one side that indicates the position of all the players, similar to radar displays in flight sims. This provides an aid to passing to players who are currently off screen. Also on the side of the screen is the score and a clock which counts down to zero, the point where the current game ends.

Direction of play[edit]

In the cocktail cabinet version with players standing on either side of the unit with the screen in between, players stand behind their own goal and make progress in a forward direction up the field. (As there was no half time, no change of direction was required.) In upright cabinet variants the opponent's goal in Single-Player mode is typically located at the top of the screen.

Formation and rules[edit]

The teams consist of ten players each (nine outfield and one goalkeeper). Team formation is controlled by the computer, with virtual players assuming predetermined positions for set pieces. As slide tackles are controlled by the computer there are no fouls and therefore no free kicks or penalties, and no yellow or red cards. No referee is shown on the field, although his whistle can be heard at the kick off, when the ball goes out of bounds or when a goal is scored. As Tehkan World Cup predates the passback rule, the goalkeeper will pick up the ball after receiving a pass from his own defenders. The offside rule is not enforced.

Use of the third dimension[edit]

Although the graphics are two-dimensional, the ball can be aimed at height for the purposes of crossing, chipping, lobbing or clearing. The height of the ball can be perceived by its growing larger while it separates from its shadow on the ground. Virtual players automatically adapt to the height of the ball, and will automatically use their head or chest as needed (or in the goalkeepers' case, their hands).

Own goals[edit]

Despite some incomplete programming in Tehkan World Cup, the designers found time to include an amusing touch: whenever an own goal is scored, the players of the defending team raise their hands to their eyes while their opponents celebrate the goal.

Game formats[edit]

The Player 1 (red trackball) side contains two additional push-buttons for choosing between Single or Two-Player games. Although fixed via dip switch settings, Single-Player games typically cost one credit while Two-Player games cost two or more credits.

Single-Player mode[edit]

Single-player mode consists of seven short games (between 1 minute and 2 minutes 30 seconds depending on dip switch settings) of increasingly difficult opponents that simulate the seven games a team needed to play to win the World Cup. Unlike the World Cup itself, there is no "round stage", with players required to win each game to progress to the next "round". Drawing or losing results in instant elimination and a Game Over message. The first six games are given a numerical round number denoted as "Game 1", "Game 2",..."Game 6", etc. The seventh game is known as "Final Game". Winning this seventh and final game displays a victory screen with the player's team lofting the World Cup, accompanied by a victory tune. Successful players are prompted to enter a three-letter name into the high score table, although the table is reset when the machine is turned off.

The range of difficulty between the seven CPU opponents is such that while it may take an hour to learn how to defeat "Team 1", it often requires several weeks of practice to defeat all seven teams and win the World Cup. In addition to gaining experience in on-field strategy, manipulating the trackball with sufficient skill in terms of applying the necessary direction and pace poses a learning curve in manual dexterity. The skill required to perform more intricate moves such as crossing followed by an attempted volley shot is obtained gradually, akin in some ways to mastering an actual ball sport. This challenge caused many, particularly the casual players, to give up before mastering the game.

With enough practice, the experienced player can defeat all of the computer opponents regularly as they ultimately discover that the limitations of the computer opponent lies in its predictability. (It tends to perform the same moves given the same situations, and does not learn from past mistakes.) At this point the challenge for human players inevitably migrates to winning by increasingly large margins or scoring progressively more imaginative goals. In the default 90-second duration game, a top player can defeat Team 1 by a score of 25-0, and Team 7 by a score of 8-0.

The skill of the CPU opponents can also be modified via internal dip switches. There are four different difficulty levels: easy, normal, hard and very hard. The difficulty level affects the speed at which the CPU players can run and shoot, the fervor at which they crowd the ball and the speed at which they can jump from defense to attack and vice versa.

Two-Player mode[edit]

While Single-Player mode comprises between one and seven games, Two-Player mode consists of a single head-to-head game between two human players. While the length of Single-Player games is fixed by dip switches, the length of Two-Player games is determined by dip switches but also the number of credits the players buy. (Initial game time and time per extra credit are set independently through PCB dip switches.) Typical Two-Player game time is typically on the order of 5 minutes, but can be as little as 1–2 minutes. As the upper limit is based on pay-per-play, there is no upper limit although games longer than 30 minutes are uncommon. As with other games such as Gauntlet, upon reaching zero time the machine prompts players to insert additional credit(s), giving them the option of prolonging the current game.

In two-player mode, the player using the single-player trackball side (normally a red trackball) controls a team wearing red shirts and white shorts, while the player using the second (normally blue) trackball has a team with blue shirts and white shorts. Since the red "Player 1" trackball is used in every game and the blue "Player 2" trackball is only used in two-player mode, the red trackball often exhibits more wear. It is therefore common for players playing multiple games to "switch sides" in order to eliminate any possible inequality and any advantage to "being blue".

Because two-player games lack the predictability of the computer opponents, new tactics are opened up both defensively and offensively. Essentially the computer opponents cease to be a challenge once mastered, and only by head-to-head competition with those of similar skill can experienced human players enjoy true competition. In this sense, two-player mode is where Tehkan World Cup comes into its own, with games fought intensely as players seek to dominate the other and attain champion status among their peers. By contrast, games between novices and accomplished players are a foregone conclusion as they are of little challenge to one player and cause embarrassment to the other. As Tehkan World Cup declined in popularity, it became increasingly difficult for skilled players to find worthwhile opponents.


Processors and audio[edit]

Tehkan World Cup uses two Zilog Z80C 8-bit CPU microprocessors at 4.608 MHz clock rate for processing. For sound, it employs one Z80C at 4.608 MHz, two General Instrument AY-3-8910 sound chips at 1.536 MHz for PSG music, and one Oki MSM5205 at 384 kHz for ADPCM samples[5] at 12-bit depth[6] and 32.088 kHz sampling rate.[7] This produces six-channel PSG music, plus PCM samples from 32 kB audio ROM.[5] However, all sound is fed through a mono amplifier in the cabinet housing. As machines age, the amplifier is known to fail, sometimes resulting in silent gameplay.

Display and graphics[edit]

The screen is a horizontally mounted 20" color raster CRT monitor fed at 256×224 to 256×256 pixels display resolution with 60 Hz refresh rate. The palette memory can display up to 768 colors on screen, selectable from a 4096 (12-bit RGB) color palette. Two tilemap planes are displayed on screen, one for the foreground and one for the background, with each tile being 8×8 or 16×8 pixels in size and displaying 16 colors (4-bit color). Each sprite is 16×16 pixels in size and displays 16 colors. The hardware supports scrolling in vertical and horizontal directions.[5]

As "Game Over" is displayed throughout its demonstration mode and as the clock and score panels are permanent screen fixtures, Tehkan World Cup is a candidate for screen burn. However, no specimen has been observed to exhibit screen burn, perhaps as a result of its relatively short commercial life compared to classics such as Space Invaders.


The game unit consists of two 3" optical trackballs. These are made of semi-transparent plastic, illuminated from below such that they shine fairly brightly blue or red, depending on the color of the ball. On older machines the trackball bulbs eventually burn out, but this does not affect functionality.

Dip switches[edit]

The PCB (motherboard) contains dip switches that control the length, difficulty, speed and cost of games and whether sound is heard in demo play. A 1P (Single-Player) game can be 1:00, 1:30, 2:00 or 2:30 in length; playing all 7 rounds results in an elapsed playing time of 7:00, 10:30, 14:00 or 17:30 respectively. As the game clock stops when the ball is dead, actual elapsed time is typically around 10% higher than game time. The maximum elapsed time in 1P mode for the cost of a single credit is therefore around 20 minutes. In almost all permutations, 1P games represent better value for money in terms of game time per coin.

Dip Switch Affects Setting 1 Setting 2 Setting 3 Setting 4 Setting 5 Setting 6 Setting 7 Setting 8
Coin A Coins needed per credit (Slot A) 2 Coins/1 Credit 1 Coin/1 Credit (default) 2 Coins/3 Credits 1 Coin/2 Credits 1 Coin/3 Credits 1 Coin/4 Credits 1 Coin/5 Credits 1 Coin/6 Credits
Coin B Coins needed per credit (Slot B) 2 Coins/1 Credit 1 Coin/1 Credit (default) 2 Coins/3 Credits 1 Coin/2 Credits 1 Coin/3 Credits 1 Coin/4 Credits 1 Coin/5 Credits 1 Coin/6 Credits
Start Credits (P1&P2)/Extra 1P initial credits/2P initial credits//2P add'l time multiplier 1&1/200% 1&2/100% (default) 2&2/100% 2&3/67%
1P Game Time Game time in Single-Player (1P) mode 2:30 2:00 1:30 (default) 1:00
2P Game Time Initial and additional Two-Player mode (2P) game time See 2P matrix for all 32 settings See 2P matrix See 2P matrix See 2P matrix See 2P matrix See 2P matrix See 2P matrix See 2P matrix
Game Type Whether credits can add to game time in 2P mode Timer In (default) Credit In
Difficulty Skill of CPU opponent (Single-Player) Easy Normal (default) Hard Very Hard
Timer Speed Game speed 60/60 (default) 55/60
Demo Sounds Whether sound is muted while in demo mode Off On (default)

2P (Two-Player mode) dip switch matrix[edit]

Initial time as set by "2P Game Time" dip switch 2P add'l time multiplier as set by "Start Credits (P1&P2)/Extra" dip switch Resultant add'l time per credit
1:00 100% (default) 0:30 0:35 0:45 1:00
1:30 100% (default) 0:45 0:50 1:00 1:15
2:00 100% (default) 1:00 1:05 1:15 1:30
2:30 100% (default) 1:15 1:20 1:30 1:45
3:00 100% (default) 1:30 1:35 1:45 2:00
3:30 (default) 100% (default) 1:45 1:50 2:00 (default) 2:15
4:00 100% 2:00 2:05 2:15 2:30
5:00 100% 2:30 2:35 2:45 3:00
1:00 67% 0:20 0:23 0:30 0:40
1:30 67% 0:30 0:33 0:40 0:50
2:00 67% 0:40 0:43 0:50 1:00
2:30 67% 0:50 0:53 1:00 1:10
3:00 67% 1:00 1:03 1:10 1:20
3:30 67% 1:10 1:13 1:20 1:30
4:00 67% 1:20 1:23 1:30 1:40
5:00 67% 1:40 1:43 1:50 2:00

The above table shows that the minimum 2P game time is 1:00 with the smallest additional increment being 0:30. Effectively any game length can therefore be chosen, although the game's internal dip switches gave the arcade operator a large say in available game lengths and their cost. The game clock itself cannot display times larger than 99:59 although games longer than this can be purchased. In such a case, the game's internal clock will keep track of remaining time but the clock display will read 99:59 and begin counting down when the remaining time is lower than this. Note that additional time can be added during a game by adding credits per the 2P matrix above. At the end of each 2P game, players are given a 10-second window to continue their current game by adding credits.

Joystick variant[edit]

Bootleg versions of Tehkan World Cup appeared in single-player upright cabinets with joystick controllers replacing the trackball as the means of control. Since the joysticks were digital, player movement and kicking was mapped to 100% trackball speed. This maximized the running performance of the players but eliminated soft and medium strength passing or shooting from the game, essentially depriving it of the subtleties that were its forte. Because joystick play released the true speed potential of the virtual players, scores of 30-0 were possible in a 90-second game.[8]


Release versions[edit]

Two different versions of the software are known to exist. These are ostensibly identical with the exception of having differently colored computer opponents in Single-Player mode. In the first version the team in the Final Game wore white shirts and black shorts. In the second version the Final team wore navy blue shirts and white shorts.


Tehkan World Cup contains some bugs that manifest on rare occasions. As they occur infrequently, they may have escaped gameplay testing entirely or else were thought minor enough to overlook.

Goalkeepers outside penalty area[edit]

Although the goalkeepers cannot exit the penalty area while under human control, while under CPU control the goalkeepers are able to collect the ball with their hands outside the penalty area if they are the closest player.

Goalkeepers pass to opponents[edit]

When passing to team mates, goalkeepers while under CPU control do not account for the position of opponents. This programming omission primarily manifests in goalkeepers of CPU teams, as the goalkeeper of the human player will not release the ball unless six seconds have elapsed, at which time a high, straight kick will be delivered. This bug can be exploited indirectly by positioning a player (while under human control) behind the CPU goalkeeper once he collects the ball. As the player runs back to position, should he be in the path of the goalkeeper's pass, he will steal possession. As the goalkeeper has not recovered from his pass, he will often not be able to stop a first-time shot from a player who steals possession close to the goal. Astute human players can score a goal due to this bug approximately once every two or three tournaments against the CPU.

Ball goes off screen[edit]

Occasionally the player in possession will "lose sight" of the ball and run off without it. The gameplay window then drifts away such that the ball is no longer displayed on the screen, it then being difficult or impossible to retrieve by either team. In such a case, the clock will run down to zero without any further action, and the game will end without any further scoring. It is sometimes possible to escape this situation by directing a player to the ball using the overlay map.


Normally a result of an errant signal from a partially worn trackball, highlighted players have been known to "teleport" from one part of the screen to another. Sometimes a player will teleport out of bounds, resulting in a goal kick, throw-in or corner kick to the team not in possession. In rare cases, the ball will teleport over the goal line between the posts, resulting in a goal.

Ball bursting the net[edit]

Occasionally a successful shot (resulting in a goal) will pass through the goal net. It is not known if this is due to a bug or the deliberate simulation of the netting being burst by the force of the shot.

Curving balls[edit]

Occasionally the ball will be released in a curving trajectory, particularly from a corner kick. As this is not documented by Tehkan and it is not well understood how it is executed through the control system, it is not known if this is a bug or a deliberate attempt to simulate curving.

Starting play by passing to self[edit]

Although difficult to achieve, it is possible for a virtual player to start play from a throw-in or corner kick by passing to himself.

Pass-Back Rule not implemented[edit]

Since the pass-back rule did not exist yet in 1985, the goalkeeper can pick up the ball after a pass from his own team mate though this would not count as a bug. This allowed for time-wasting techniques which sometimes raise objections during two-player games.

Offside Rule not implemented[edit]

Although not a bug, the offside rule is not enforced. As player positions are almost completely controlled by the game, there are few opportunities to exploit the absence of the Offside Rule. The game itself attempts to keep players in their correct formation and will not engage in deliberate goal poaching, although players who receive the ball in offside positions will not be prevented from advancing on goal.


Core music[edit]

There are seven core pieces of music normally heard in Tehkan World Cup which are associated with the following moods and phases:

  • upbeat and expectant, after the first coin is inserted but before 1P or 2P is selected to start the game ("coin in")
  • building, when the team lineups are displayed immediately before the start of play ("pre-game"). A crowd noise can be heard during this sequence
  • brooding, continually approaching a climax, during normal field play ("in game")
  • triumphant, congratulatory, during the victory dance when a goal is scored ("goal"). As with "pre-game", a sample of crowd cheering can be heard during this sequence
  • pragmatic and final, when GAME OVER is displayed, signifying tournament elimination ("game over")
  • joyously triumphant, during name entry in the high score table ("high score")
  • sedate and regal, when the World Cup is raised in victory or when TOMI (the first four letters of the game planner's name) is entered into the high score table ("cup raising"). The music is taken from the anthem "Jerusalem".

Hidden music[edit]

  • Entering MICH (the first four letters of the programmer's name) into the high score table plays a hidden tune
  • Entering TSUK (the first four letters of the name of the creator of the game's music) into the high score table plays a second hidden tune

Musical style, arrangement and polyphony[edit]

The music in Tehkan World Cup is in the style of 1980s pop electronica with a driving rhythm championed by bands such as Eurythmics. It consists of up to three simultaneous notes plus percussion sounds. Typically one note is devoted to the bass line which carries a staccato riff that follows the beat and the chord, while a second note yields the melody and the third note a unison harmony, usually two whole notes above the melody. The "in game" music is the most prevalent sequence and is in the key of E minor. Once finished it simply repeats without pause, with the end written to lead back to the beginning so that it can cycle seamlessly. The "pre-game" music is in a minor key as it forms the introduction to the "in game" music. The "game over" and "hidden tune 1" music are also in a minor key, while "cup raising" contains both major and minor passages. "Coin in", "goal", and the second hidden piece are delivered in a major key.


Overemphasis on running[edit]

Tehkan World Cup does not simulate player stamina and thus virtual players can run indefinitely at full speed, up until the very end of the game. Additionally, while passing is a rich part of gameplay, because it is more difficult to master than running with the ball, new players tend to rely on running strategies, sometimes forgoing passing altogether. This imbalance is occasionally carried over into Two-Player Mode, although the accomplished player can normally exploit a player who overemphasizes running. (In using trackballs, running costs more energy, and actual physical stamina can become a factor.)

Trackball wear[edit]

The game's trackballs are relatively high wear components and thus Tehkan World Cup could be a victim of its own success. (A sign of high use is the fading and peeling of the colored laminate around the Player One trackball.) Trackball life can be extended by regular cleaning and lubrication of moving parts and replacement of bearings, but machines could go through two or more replacements of entire trackball sub-assemblies in a five-year arcade run, placing a relatively high maintenance burden on staff. (The far-less-used Player Two trackball rarely suffered the same fate; savvy arcades could extend the game's life by swapping the Player One and Player Two trackballs around.) Towards the end of its life, Tehkan World Cup was often found in arcades in an unplayable state. Owners, in some cases unknowingly operating a defective machine, would note the reduced coin intake and conclude that it had lost its popularity. Thus, the game's reliability issues ultimately contributed to its demise.

Speed of CPU outfield players[edit]

In the later rounds of Single-Player games, depending on the dip switch difficulty level, CPU players are faster than the players on the human team such that running more than a short distance is futile. In contrast to the overemphasis on running imposed on new players, this forces human players who reach the later rounds to choose a strategy entirely based on passing.

Skill of CPU goalkeepers[edit]

The goalkeeper in later rounds of Single-Player games is almost impossible to beat with a long-range shot. This forces human players to rely on volleys and short-range shooting.


As an arcade game, TWC offers instant play but lacks longevity features found in many later soccer games (particularly those designed for the home market) such as the ability to influence the careers of individual players, league formats or multi-season planning. Neither does it incorporate a management dimension that typically includes injuries, player markets and gate receipts. Energy levels are not simulated and so players never tire. Although in Single-Player mode the strength of the CPU teams increases from round to round, individual player attributes are not supported and so all the players in a given team are identical in behavior and ability. Fouling is not possible in TWC and therefore there are no free kicks, penalty kicks, drop balls, yellow or red cards; all tackles are considered clean (although not all tackles are successful). However, the gameplay does feature goal kicks, corner kicks, throw-ins and goalkeeper kick-outs.


Demise in the arcades[edit]

Although highly popular in the year after its release, Tehkan World Cup faded as newer games appeared with larger screens and better graphics. Its trackball system exhibited issues with wear under high use, and without maintenance most specimens eventually broke down. These reliability problems combined with the fact that it required more floor space than upright games caused it to be dropped by most arcades by the early 1990s.

Relationship to Gridiron Fight[edit]

Gridiron Fight was an American Football video game released in the same year as Tehkan World Cup featuring almost identical hardware. It employed the same twin trackballs with an action button duplicated on either side and a similar cocktail cabinet design with horizontal screen, although the cabinet design in many specimens (but not all) had a more angular shape. The primary hardware difference was the inclusion of a seven segment LED adjacent to the action buttons for each player on Gridiron Fight that indicated their "formation number". The software of the two games exhibited a similar top-down two-dimensional window-on-the-field graphical design.

NES release as Tecmo World Cup Soccer[edit]

A port of Tehkan World Cup was released on December 7, 1990 in Japan for the Nintendo Entertainment System known as Tecmo World Cup Soccer..[9] This is not to be confused with Nintendo World Cup of the same year,[10] nor Tecmo Cup Soccer Game released in September 1992.[11] It featured the same musical score (albeit adapted to the NES sound hardware) and gameplay, which (as with later console releases) was hampered by the lack of analog control. A choice of teams was now available, while the competition format and game lengths were different from in Tehkan World Cup. Features omitted due to hardware restrictions included the on-screen "scoreboard" and radar, while the "grass" had a simpler, more unified texture. Players did not celebrate during the goal sequence, but the goal net was shown to bulge upon receipt of the ball - a touch not present in the original arcade version. Slide tackles could now be initiated by the player, while the behavior of the ball was altered in some situations - it could bounce after a high kick, and rebounded from the net and goalposts in a slightly different manner.[12]

Tecmo World Cup '90 arcade game[edit]

In 1989, four years after the release of Tehkan World Cup, Tecmo attempted to capitalize on Italia '90 World Cup hype by releasing a sequel, Tecmo World Cup '90.[13] This dropped the two-dimensional top-down scrolled view in favor of an isometric three-dimensional view of the field, featuring a more common joystick control system and different gameplay. As it did not retain any signature elements of Tehkan World Cup aside from the choice of one or two-player play, it was a sequel in name only. Thus, Tehkan World Cup's arcade lineage was effectively ended after one generation.

Dino Dini's Kick Off[edit]

Also in 1989, a two-dimensional top-down scrolling soccer game called Kick Off appeared for various platforms in the home computer market. Although not connected with Tehkan/Tecmo, its visual similarities (including overlaid miniature field map) sparked comparisons with Tehkan World Cup in the gaming press. Kick Off itself received strong reviews, spawned multiple sequels and its own world championship.

Sensible Soccer[edit]

In 1992, Sensible Software released Sensible Soccer for the Amiga and Atari ST featuring top-down graphics and gameplay similar to Kick Off and Tehkan World Cup. Sensible also spawned many sequels. Its fourth variant, Sensible World of Soccer (1995/1996) received review scores of 96% from both Amiga Power and Amiga Format, the joint highest mark given for any game by either magazine.[14]

PlayStation 2 release as Tecmo Cup[edit]

On 25 November 2004, a port of Tehkan World Cup under the name Tecmo Cup was released in Japan for the PlayStation 2 console in a compilation entitled Tecmo Hit Parade.[15] The set also included Star Force, Bomb Jack, Solomon's Key, Pinball Action, Senjyo and Pleiads.[16] Each game included dip switch settings, debug modes and reproductions of printed materials. As analog controls were not supported, the same limitations were in effect that hampered the original joystick version of Tehkan World Cup.

Xbox release as Tecmo Cup[edit]

Released on 13 September 2005 in the U.S. and 27 October 2005 in Japan, an updated version of Tecmo Hit Parade entitled Tecmo Classic Arcade was released featuring Tehkan World Cup (as Tecmo Cup) for the Xbox console. The set included updated programming by Tomonobu Itagaki and Team Ninja.[16] The compilation added Rygar, Strato Fighter, Swimmer and Tecmo Bowl. As analog controls were still not supported, the same limitations were in effect as with the original joystick version of Tehkan World Cup.

Emulation under MAME[edit]

General description of Tehkan World Cup under MAME[edit]

Tehkan World Cup can be played on a personal computer through the MAME emulator by downloading the necessary ROM set,[17] prepared for MAME by Ernesto Corvi and Roberto Fresca. Digital and analog control is supported, including use of keyboard, mouse or (as in the original) trackball. MAME adds features not available on the original arcade machine such as replay saving, and the ability to alter (through emulation) the dip switches on the motherboard.

Original TWC trackball support under MAME[edit]

It is possible to connect an original Tehkan World Cup trackball to a PC for use in MAME. This involves cannibalizing the PCB of a mouse, instructions on which are available on several hobbyist sites.


Programmer : Michishito Ishizuka
Planner : Shinichiroh Tomie
Music : Tsukasa Masuko
Character designer : Rie Ishizuka, aka Rie Yatomi
Cabinet designer : Kohji Okada
Illustration : Hideyuki Yokoyama

See also[edit]


External links[edit]