Retro gaming, four of a kind: top football games

Posted on 20 August 2015
By James Brookfield
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With the new football season now fully returned and Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 demo made available for download it seems fitting this week’s Four of a Kind should examine the top retro football games.

1. Sensible Soccer (Various platforms)

Sensible Soccer is habitually regarded as the greatest football game. Though not the most realistic representation of the beautiful game the gameplay is; very accurate, quick and responsive. Visually Sensible Soccer is a top down, basic perspective but the detail in the player sprites are surprisingly distinct.

Controls are also simple and revolutionary for the time due to the ability to; change players, sprinting, tackling etc was uncommon. Also players contain different attributes meaning gamers have to know teams and players well. Again this is familiar in modern football games but yet another reason as to why Sensible Soccer is still considered as one of the best football video games.

2. International Super Star Soccer Deluxe (SNES)

Though the original International Superstar Soccer is a superb game, the Deluxe edition is superior.

The reason for this is simple, Deluxe takes positive aspects of ISS and includes new additions such as; two-player co-op against AI teams, graphical and AI improvements, the ability to differentiate between player positions when making substitutions, controlling camera panning and ball curving before free kicks and corner kicks, extra commentary lines, the ability to unlock ‘all-star team’ and many more.

The team selection includes 36 International teams and boasts many recognisable players albeit with slightly altered names for licensing reasons. Similar to Sensible Soccer the tone is not realistic, maintaining more of an arcade feel, but camera position is comparable to television angles and has a third-person perspective for penalty kicks.

3. Pro Evolution Soccer 5 (Playstation 2, Xbox)

Despite critics noting Pro Evolution Soccer 5 is less accessible than its predecessor the game is a more technical, tactical and truer representation of football. Ball physics are more realistic due to; movement through the air, player control before sprinting and colliding off intercepting defenders.

Also sections of matches rely on fans patience and knowledge to affect the overall experience. For example improved shooting means players are encouraged to create chances through the middle of the field rather than heavily relying on running constantly down the wing, therefore creating better tactical thought and less tap-in opportunities.

Tackles are more physical plus passing feels both weightier and more practical. Furthermore pace is equally balanced between breakthrough speed and patient build-up. Visually the game improves upon Pro Evo 4, introduces winter conditions, further enhances team editing and continues the enjoyable Master League mode.

4. FIFA 99 (Various platforms)

FIFA 99 retained the positive aspects of its World Cup precursor but also improved upon them. For example a new graphics engine makes visuals cleaner and colourful but they are still pixelated. The new engine also furthered realism due to player facial expressions, moves and gestures reacting to on-pitch action. To counter the omission of licensed kits EA intelligently included a Player/Team Edit function.

The game controls still adhere to the standard scheme but are more fluid. FIFA 99 is an in-depth addition to the series due to; international and domestic teams, 1000s of well-known players, domestic league cups, Champions League, UEFA Cup, Cup Winners’ cup and the ability to create a tournament. Furthermore it also features ‘European Dream League’ a mode wherein the top twenty teams in the world could play against one other.

The final whistle has blown on this Four of a Kind match. Feel free to continue in extra-time by leaving a comment below discussing your favourite retro football games either one the list above or sitting on the subs bench.

Honourable Mentions: Kick-off, Tecmo Cup Soccer Game, Super Sidekicks, Actua Soccer 3, This is Football, Fifa World Cup 1998, Championship Manager 01/02 and Super Mario Strikers.