There are 40 international teams to compete in four modes: Instant Replay, Exhibition, Tournament, and Championship. The full gamut of soccer rules and actions are implemented here, including tackles, throw-outs, corner kicks and penalties. The game offers quite responsive controls (some would find it a bit complicated though to master). Kicking is done with the A and B buttons for high and low kicks. Holding down a button lets you aim and set the strength, allowing you to run one way and kick in another. Note that the player control goes automatically to the player closest to the ball, which might be a bit confusing at times when too many players involved in a scene...
Gameplay is of course reduced when compared to the original Megadrive/Genesis version due to the limited number of buttons here. Holding down the A button while ball in possession, lets you aim and set the strength in order to give a pass in a short, medium or high distance. Without the ball in possession, pressing button A changes between the active players (to control with). Holding down a button B when having the ball, lets you aim and set the strength in order to shoot in a short, medium or high distance. Without the ball in possession, pressing B the player tackles!
Team formation and tactics can change at any time by pausing gameplay and through the main menu. Of course, this is a slower game than one using a top-down view and described it a more of a simulator than a traditional arcade footie.
Ok, despite an impressive presentation, with loads of international teams, players and some competent visuals, this portable version of FIFA falls short. The field is too big and the screen is zoomed in onto the players too closely making ball possession hard at times. While trying to pass the ball, many times the ball will get passed off screen and you can't tell which team is going to get it! Oh, and there is no mini-map here during gameplay, found in all but the portable systems.
Unlike later FIFA games which are presented in full 3D, FIFA International Soccer goes for an isometric perspective and has much simpler gameplay. The programmers managed to implement the same isometric perspective that the 16bit versions had. It is by its own, an impressive feature for an 8bit portable system! The visual detail of the pitch and players and their animations with the isometric view is awesome and the football action looks really nice.
Sound is ok, offering a main menu tune, whilst there are several in-game SFX with a tinny echo for the audience and the sounds of passing/kicking the ball. Nothing special here really.