Gaming has come a long way since the heady days of the Sega Mega Drive and nowhere is this truer than when looking at some of the ‘soccer’ titles on offer back in the day.
It was a time when button bashing took priority over tactics. When games had “always score” positions and realism wasn’t a massive concern. Things may have advanced substantially in the years since. thanks to the likes of FIFA and Pro Evo. but some of the silly simplicity and fun has been lost along the way.
With that in mind, join loaded as we get misty-eyed about seven games that only just fall into the category of soccer simulation.
A ground-breaking title for developers Rage, Striker sold close to a million copies upon release and helped establish the Liverpool-based games company as a major force. Ground-breaking its use a 3D viewpoint, Striker was as fast-paced a football game as you were likely to find. It’s just a shame that the rest of the game was lacking a little.
Developed by U.S. Gold, the company behind the button-bashing Olympics titles that probably left many a Mega Drive user with arthritis, Fever Pitch is something of an oddity. Controversially, the game offered players the chance to use “dirty” tactics and special moves like diving to win free-kicks or penalties. Somewhat ahead of its time, the controversial concept didn’t catch on.
A best-seller upon release, European Club Soccer gave gamers the chance to play in the Champions’ Cup, which was basically the Champions League in all but name. Boasting a database of some 170 European club sides, this Krisalis Software title also allowed players to dabble in formation changes, with each carrying their own unique benefits.
Simple yet strangely compelling, Italia ’90 was one of the most basic soccer games on the Mega Drive but also the most fun, especially in its nifty World Cup mode. Taking control of a group of players from bird’s eye view, the game encouraged passing movies, crunching tackles and the occasional memorable goal. It’s just a shame that players were presented with the same generic celebration screen every time they scored.
The precursor to Konami’s immense Pro Evolution Soccer series, International Superstar Soccer Deluxe ranks among the best football games on the Mega Drive, thanks to it’s all-round excellent gameplay. Featuring plenty of familiar faces from world football, albeit with slightly different names, ISS Deluxe offered a fantastic array of game modes and some well-rendered graphics for the Mega Drive.
As controversial as it might be for anyone who grew up playing FIFA ’95, the ’97 edition of the game gets the nod here thanks to some highly original features. David Ginola featured on the cover, while the game remains the only FIFA title to give gamers the chance to play matches in a special indoor area, the title’s build-your-own-club mode also offered near-limitless possibilities.
The undoubted champion in the Sega Mega Drive, Sensible Soccer opted arcade-style gameplay and was all the better for it. While the graphics have aged, it’s as enjoyable to play now as it was all those years ago. Boasting a decent World Cup option, the game was also notable for featuring the first onscreen referee to pop up in a football game. Daft, simple and, most importantly, a lot of fun.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.