For most soccer-mad fans, video games were one of the first touchpoints of the sport as youngsters.
It was a chance to experience the drama and intensity of the so-called ‘beautiful game’. Today, soccer video games are some of the most played titles on leading platforms like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
However, those gamer dads who started their gaming careers on more archaic consoles like the Amiga, SNES or Mega Drive will enjoy a trip down memory lane with our nod to the soccer video games that have gone on to characterize this genre.
Kick Off 2
Published in 1990 by Anco, Kick Off 2 was the sequel to the highly anticipated Kick Off game.
The original was dubbed the “ultimate soccer simulation”, with the chance to manage and play with teams, ensuring a truly immersive soccer sim experience.
The sequel also gave players a chance to load up their very own team of players using the ‘Player Manager’ function, allowing them to play as themselves and friends using their very own tactics.
Owners of Atari, Amiga and Super NES consoles will probably have heard of the soccer video game Striker.
Developed by Rage Software in 1992, Striker split the opinion in terms of critical reaction.
Although the CU Amiga Magazine was particularly gushing in its praise, giving it 94% in its June 1992 publication. What was particularly interesting with Striker was the chance to play indoor football.
The pitch resembled something of a wooden basketball court, but teams still played 11-a-side – with slide tackles aplenty!
The Sensible Soccer series, lovingly known as ‘Sensi’ by its fans, has still got an impressive cult following despite its release almost 30 years ago.
One of the main reasons its appealed to hardcore soccer fans was that it allowed gamers to manage and perform as hundreds of different clubs around the world – some more obscure than others.
Pro Evolution Soccer
Teenage soccer fans were frothing at the mouth when Konami published Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) in the autumn of 2001.
Known as Winning Eleven in Japan and North America, it was lovingly known as PES elsewhere.
Available exclusively on the PlayStation and PlayStation 2, it was eventually released on Xbox as well as desktop PC. The arcade-style gameplay made for a hugely engaging experience.
The fact that Konami had to rename most of the clubs featured in the game due to licensing reasons only further served to add to its charm in the eyes of its staunchest supporters.
Championship Manager/Football Manager
If we were to say to you that a football management sim on the PC, operated via spreadsheets, would become one of the most immersive soccer games of all time, you’d laugh, right?
Nevertheless, that’s the reality with the iconic Championship Manager franchise. Developed by brothers Paul and Oliver Collyer during their summer holidays, this series has grown into a behemoth that some might say has become so engrossing that it’s ruined friendships and relationships!
After the original developers split with initial publishers Eidos Interactive, the game was rebranded to Football Manager and it hasn’t looked back since.
The game engine has evolved immeasurably from just 2D action to 3D highlights, bringing you closer to your players than ever.
The first glimpse of the FIFA franchise was at the back end of 1993 when FIFA International Soccer reared its head.
Fronted by English international David Platt and Polish star Piotr Swierczewski, this release broke new ground for soccer video games thanks to its isometric player view.
It charted at the top of the UK’s video game charts for a whopping six months. The 1998 FIFA ‘Road to the World Cup’ release was another breakthrough release, offering improved AI and an all-new graphics engine to boot.
By the mid-2000s, FIFA had achieved supremacy over its long-time rival PES, with its game engine eventually bettering PES’ arcade-style action. Its official player and team licensing also enhanced its realism.