We're still stoked on playing the recently released EA SPORTS FIFA 16--click here to check out our past Twitch broadcasts of the game's features. But years before all this excellence, soccer fans and gamers enjoyed many earlier games, too. Take a break, plug in your joystick, and let's dive in to more than 30 years of soccer video game history.
INTERNATIONAL SOCCER, 1983
Here's one of the earliest games, designed for the 8-bit Commodore C64 home computer. This one boasted the most basic graphics and rules (no offside, no fouls), a ball that looked like a “+” and even a mode for black-and-white TVs.
WORLD CUP CARNIVAL, 1986
Another creation for the C64, this was the first official licensed World Cup game. Personally, playing with the “real” countries I saw during Mexico '86 was like a dream for a nine-year-old kid.
EMLYN HUGHES INTERNATIONAL SOCCER, 1988
One of my all-time favorites, this one worked on the C64 as well as other departed platforms, like Amiga and Atari. Gameplay was very good; there were also stats and everything was editable, including leagues, jerseys, teams names, players names and even skills. (I personally spent hours creating the Belgian league.)
KICK OFF 2, 1990
With a top-down view and small players, Kick Off 2 offered a higher-resolution look, with more accuracy in passing and faster action. It also fetured various pitches, tactics (even 1-2-7) and refs with their own styles, but teams and players weren’t customizable.
MANCHESTER UNITED EUROPE, 1991
The Manchester United series of video games kicked off in 1990, but this second installment of the series was among the best. Half arcade play, half management, it proved excellent reason to fall in love with Pallister, Irwin, Ince, Robson, Sharpe, Hughes and the club that won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1991.
SENSIBLE SOCCER: EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS, 1992
Also top-down, but with a bird’s-eye view and a gameplay allowing an easier ball circulation, this first installment of the Sensible Soccer series added stats and highlights at the end of the game. It also included fan chants and a huge database where players' jerseys, competitions, names, and even skin and hair color were customizable.
A logical evolution after Kick Off and Sensible Soccer, Goal! (a sequel to 1988's Goal!) boasted the gameplay qualities of both. It also added multiple camera views (including a side view) and editable names. This also marked the end of the era that allowed gamers to tackle, pass, shoot, lob, swerve, and so on with only one button.
THE BEGINNING OF THE FIFA SERIES
After a slow start, the FIFA series proved to be perfectly adapted to a new generation of game consoles, gamepads with plenty of buttons and gamer expectations. It's become a worldwide cultural touchpoint since FIFA: Road to World Cup '98, seducing die-hard gamers and novices alike thanks to refined graphics and gameplay and a great soundtrack.