“Favourite Five football games?’
Maybe it’s the World Cup, maybe it’s playing a Master League on Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 again, but I’m feeling very enthusiastic about football at the moment. I’m sure I’ll be feeling apathetic again once Everton suffer their annual FA Cup defeat. Until January though, my interest in football is back. Football may not be coming home, but at least it’s at the station looking at timetables…
#5 – Super Kick Off (Master System)
I’d always messed around on Kick Off 2 on the Atari ST and given the praise Super Kick Off got, it was an essential purchase. For the Master System, it was a fantastic game – while not a looker, it was fast, slick and surprisingly deep. Super Kick Off had kit editing, cups, leagues and, if you changed the in game language, (made up) teams from around the world. The only thing Super Kick Off was missing was battery backup or a password system, so you could save your progress in the league.
I was never much good at the game to be honest. Kick Off was famed for it’s realistic gameplay and ‘aftertouch’ effect (i.e. curling the ball) on playing the ball, but I had nowhere near the skill to play this way. Instead, I stuck to my tried and tested method of scoring goals – I simply lobbed the ball into the air, either to try and lob the keeper or to head it over the keeper. Sometimes I’d run from the halfway line, heading the ball into the air, then over the keeper. Not very realistic, but I spent many a happy evening juggling the ball into the net!
#4 – European Club Soccer (Mega Drive)
I’ve written about European Club Soccer before, it was a game I hammered as a kid. I had seen a friend play it and it impressed me to the point where I requested European Club Soccer for Christmas alongside my new Mega Drive. I remember playing it most of Christmas Day and taking all day to register my first win – beating Shamrock Rovers as Leeds wasn’t a great feat, but it meant a lot to me!
Truthfully, European Club Soccer isn’t that great a game…it’s not terribly realistic and was very quickly surpassed by FIFA and ISS Pro. However I consider it a nostalgic favourite and adore it’s simplicity and cheerful atmosphere. That top difficulty level is a pain though…
#3 – FIFA 98: Road To World Cup 98 (PS1)
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve probably picked up on my love of Pro Evolution Soccer. However, I only got into Pro Evolution Soccer around 2002. Before then I was a FIFA fan. I’d loved the Mega Drive originals and had sensibly avoided the early 3D FIFA’s. However, when FIFA 98: Road To The World Cup came along, everyone got a copy and I became obsessed with it. I never actually owned it myself, I just used to go to my friends houses and we ‘d play it for hours.
I think it was the graphics and the ability to make your own team via a cheat that got us hooked, not to mention the indoor mode. It certainly wasn’t the CPU – FIFA 98 RTWC is one of the easiest games you’ll ever play. I’m sure you could charge the goalkeeper down when he was trying to kick the ball out and score most times.
FIFA 98: RTWC was the peak of the ‘FIFA’ era for me. I thought FIFA 99 was excellent, but again it was only played at friend’s houses. By FIFA 2000, things were on the slide and wouldn’t pick up for another decade…
#2 – Sensible Soccer (Mega Drive)
Sensible Soccer is more than a football game, it’s an obsession. I chased this game as a kid, even getting obsessed over the competent but limited Game Boy port to quench my thirst. I loved everything about Sensi – the silly teams, the custom leagues, the speedy and addictive gameplay. It was the game that really introduced me to the concept of editing teams, something that I would take further with Pro Evolution Soccer in the 00’s. I love editing teams, I find that I’m more invested in a game when I have created the game world.
My big obsession with Sensible Soccer was to try and complete a season of ‘The Fat Elvis League’, a twenty team custom team league where you played every team twenty times. I’ve tried several times over the years but can never get through all 380 games. One day….
#1 – Pro Evolution Soccer 6 (PS2)
You knew I was going to pick a Pro Evolution Soccer game, right? Bias aside, I chose PES 6 as it, like FIFA RTWC98, is the pinnacle of that era. While the XBOX 360 version had the editing removed, the PS2 version had a ridiculous array of editing options aided by the option files going around at the time.
The PS2 version, while not as graphically advanced as the XBOX 360 version, just felt right. This wasn’t a game making it’s first tenative steps on a new platform, this was a refined football game expertly made on the best platform for it. It was the previous two great prequels combined and powered by lightening and Red Bull. Play was super realistic yet fun enough that you didn’t get bogged down with little details. Throw in a not yet stale Master League and you had a winner.
That’s my five favourite football games, I’d love to know what everyone else thinks. If anyone mentions World Cup Italia 90 though, there’ll be trouble!