World Cup Carnival Featuring CanMNT

World Cup Carnival Featuring CanMNT

By Christina

Remember when a Canadian Men’s National Team (CanMNT) featured in one of the worst video games ever created? Me neither. I wasn’t around back then, but I needed to know more.

The first ever FIFA licensed World Cup video game was released in 1986, in honour of Mexico 86’. This game came in the form of World Cup Carnival which was published by U.S. Gold and developed by Artic Computing. Although World Cup Carnival isn’t by any means the first football/soccer video game ever produced, it represents the first FIFA World Cup iteration.

Sinclair Spectrum logo
Canada Soccer log

World Cup Carnival was available for the Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum. These 8-bit home computers of their time are now clearly defunct, but their legacy lives on through retrogaming and technology enthousiasts. In the C64 and Amstrad CPC versions of the game, there are ten playable teams included: Uruguay, Italy, Germany, Brazil, England, Argentina, France, Spain, Mexico and Scotland. However, for the ZX Spectrum, all 24 teams that participated in the 1986 World Cup are available to play. Alas, a Canadian Men’s National Team makes an appearance in a video game!

The Cover

World Cup Carnival box art

The game’s cover includes all kinds of different country flags and has a background image of supporters in a stand. The cover is nothing breathtaking and is somewhat standard design for products of that era. However, it is quite interesting that the image of the supporters that it features is that of Fluminense fans. Perhaps these are images of the Fluminense faithful celebrating their 1984 league title. A notable design choice, in any case.

World Cup Carnival cover
Fluminense team logo

The Game Play

World Cup Carnival is a horror show for many reasons, not least because it’s a recycled version of a previous game, World Cup Football (by Artic Computing). The pitch does not include any markings other than the perimeter lines. The only sound in the game is an awful screeching noise masquerading as a whistle. The whole thing is just a mess. It’s devastatingly disappointing for such a landmark title. World Cup Carnival is not even the type of bad that’s endearing decades later. It’s just the bad type of bad.

The story behind how the game came to be is told elsewhere by Kim Justice at Retronauts, but suffice to say that making a good product seems like it was an afterthought.

Canada v Belgium

I tried to win the World Cup with Canada. Unfortunately, just like Canada in 1986 in Mexico, I failed to win a game or score a goal. I won’t get that 20 minutes of my life back.

Canada v Belgium screen shot from World Cup Carnival
Canada v Belgium screen shot from World Cup Carnival

Asking AI To Reimagine

A few months ago, I asked DALL-E 2 to generate “1980s canada soccer video game cover”. Maybe these games would have been a little better. Here are some of the mutant results: