The World Cup has finally returned. In between matches, gamers will know that they need a quick fix to keep them quiet. So we are taking this excuse to celebrate what we believe are the 5 greatest Retro Football Games ever made.
While today's games may offer pure realism, we can honestly say we much prefer the arcade feel given to Football in the early 90's. With every press release from the likes of Pro Evolution Soccer and FIFA, it feels as if every last bit of gameplay is being pushed out in an attempt to visually recreate a match seen on TV.
This obviously is a debate for another time, so until then, let's move onto the top 5 Retro Football (or Soccer) games.
5 - Captain Tsubasa Series (aka Tecmo Cup Soccer Game)
As seen on the Nintendo NES / Famicom, Super Nintendo and Sega Megadrive (Unreleased)
A Football.... RPG?
Written down, this shouldn't really work. Everyone is already fully aware that the only role playing genre to exist within Football is the role of a manager. Championship Manager/Football Manager has proved this as it is still releasing new versions to date. However Captain Tsubasa is quite the opposite...
Like all Football games, Captain Tsubasa's player movement is controlled by the D-Pad if you have the ball with space to run. But should the opposition come near, that's where the magic happens. In a similar fashion to Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, your players are given menu based commands to decide on how you will play the game. Certain players have their own abilities which can be executed via the menu driven controls, with sub-human shots/power ups, it's anime football at it's best.
Depending on players stats, the chance of your shots going in will be compared with Goalkeepers stats, the chance or clearing a tackle is calculated and so forth. Suddenly the football genre has been presented with a whole new rule system to consider, but it sure does work well...
The only English version to be released is the PAL SCN (Scandinavian) version of Captain Tsubasa (NES), re-branded as Tecmo Cup: Soccer Game. For non-collectors, plenty of fan translations exist for the Japanese versions and the unreleased Sega Megadrive version is in English.
4 - Kunio-Kun Soccer Series (aka Nintendo World Cup)
As seen on Nintendo NES / Famicom, Nintendo Gameboy, PC Engine and Sega Megadrive
The characters within Kunio-kun Soccer have a much deeper history than just being footballers. Spanning from a franchise known as Kunio-kun, featuring very blocky, young male Japanese characters. The strong characters designed spanned across a large selection of games in Japan and quite a few consoles.
Sadly though, once localised, all references to Kunio-kun were removed. This often led to you playing different games and questioning why the characters were the same. A perfect example of this is the Nintendo NES game River City Ransom (US) / Street Gangs (EUR), which was known in Japan as Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari. Should you already own a NES and Nintendo World Cup, you might have been scratching your head in a time before the internet. (The full list can be found here)
The Japanese obviously know how to take a standard game formula and add in extra sparkle to it. Featuring a lot of violence, jumping and special moves, the Kunio-kun series features a lot of the anime influence found in the likes of Captain Tsubasa.
A perfect game for you and a few friends in between matches, but be prepared for the violence to spread from the TV to yourself, as the referee and fair decisions are no where to be seen.
3 - International Superstar Soccer Series
As seen on Sega Megadrive, Super Nintendo
Some might argue that International Superstar Soccer is where it all began. Setting the standard for football games to come, International Superstar Soccer was the most realistic looking game of it's time, while maintaining the arcade feel of previous games.
Konami had previously entered the football gaming genre with Konami Hyper Soccer on the Nintendo NES, but felt the need to push further. Snippets of International Superstar Soccer can be found within Konami Hyper Soccer but it wasn't till the later outing that Konami really understood the football genre.
Featuring Stadium selection, coin-toss decided kick offs, third person perspective penalty shoot-outs... International Superstar Soccer really did have it all. From here on, no football game would be released without such features and the era of hyper realistic football games began. Good or Bad, debate in the forum please!
As noted, realism aside, International Superstar Soccer still held that arcade feel, it was both incredibly enjoyable while looking visually impressive. At the time, FIFA was its nearest rival which slowly over took International Superstar Soccer in the race for the football gaming crown. More and more gamers were lured into the presentation of EA's games instead of the gameplay Konami was producing, sadly.
2 - Super Sidekicks Series
As seen on Neo Geo AES / MVS / CD
Arcade football gaming at it's best. SNK somehow managed to combine all it's arcade knowledge into the football genre. The announcer chants, very fast gameplay, competitive spirit and insert 'more' coins gameplay; Super Sidekicks really was the title football fans would have jumped on in the arcades.
With ever goal scored, a cartoon style celebration would begin playing, featuring your goal scorer and team running up to the sidelines, hugging and dancing around. At the time, these celebrations were nothing short of jaw dropping, it was something not seen before in a football game. It made the game all that worthwhile, to rub salt into the wounds of your opposition.
Slowly starting off, by the the third Super Sidekicks game pseudo-3D views were introduced, split second targeted goal scoring opportunities and more fantastic artwork for cut scenes. Had it's beautiful presentation been combined with realism, we could well be living in a modern gaming era featuring Super Sidekicks as one of the contenders.
And as a bonus trivia point, the English Neo Geo AES version of Super Sidekicks 4 (Also known as Ultimate 11) is one of the few video game titles today commanding prices in the five figure range.
1 - Sensible Soccer Series
As seen on Commodore Amiga / CD32, Atari ST, PC MS-DOS, Sega Megadrive, Super Nintendo, Sega Master System, Sega Game Gear, Nintendo Gameboy
The Granddaddy. Sensible Soccer is by far the greatest football game ever written and still is. While realism may lie within the roots of many other football games claiming the tops of the charts, the gameplay in Sensible Soccer is still yet to be beaten.
After one game of Sensible Soccer, you were guaranteed to be hooked.
Overall the presentation of Sensible Soccer could be described as basic, but within those tiny well animated sprites lies hidden attributes and depth that a quick glance would miss.It's lightning fast gameplay leaves little time for planning, only experience would succeed.
Each football player housed many hidden stats in the game code requiring you to get to know the team you were playing with. In Sensible World of Soccer, every player owning 7 different stats which changed the game entirely. While some notorious players could easily bang home a goal, you'd find the much faster players harder to deal with and the strong defenders a nightmare to get round.
But the most inspiring part of Sensible Soccer lies in the original Commodore Amiga version. Unlike the multi buttoned games featuring, pass, change player, sprint, shoot, tackle and so forth, Sensible Soccer is built upon the use of a single button, to kick the ball. How you use that button is up to you, master it and you'll be well on your way to the top.
It's prominence still exists today. Loyal fans are still editing the game to keep the player database upto date. Many others have moved onto Sensible Soccer Online, a fan built network match up using the original Commodore Amiga version. While others have been playing the not as good update on the Microsoft Xbox 360.
But it must be noted that the Commodore Amiga versions of the games are the definitive ones. The Sega Megadrive / Super Nintendo versions were coded to be much easier, while the Sega Master System / Game Gear version is nothing short of abysmal.
No FIFA? No Kick Off? What!?
Sadly not, although this may turn a few heads, International Superstar Soccer has always been ahead of FIFA, sadly EA's powerhouse has pushed FIFA to the top. And Kick Off will always be in the shadow of Sensible Soccer.
So should you find a few free minutes between the matches on TV, dust off one of your old consoles and get playing one of the games above. It might be the only chance you get to see England lifting the World Cup ever again!
|< Prev||Next >|