1. Sensible World of Soccer
Developed by Sensible Software and released in 1994, Sensible World of Soccer serves as a sequel for the highly successful top-down sports title, Sensible Soccer. Like the original, it combines soccer game elements with an in-depth managerial mode. It includes almost all of the international pro leagues and players of the era, with some countries having divisions beyond the premier league. The game makes use of actual player names from the '95 season with strengths and weaknesses based off the real thing. All national team and club-based international competitions are included as well. All in all, there are over 1,500 teams and more than 24,000 players in the game.
The player's main goal in the game is to manage a club of his choosing and either go for a hands-on approach which allows full character control in Player-Manager mode or focus on the management aspect of the game in Coach mode. It is possible to manage more than one big club in the latter, provided the player is consistent in producing good results.
With just eight directions and a fire button to mind, the controls are quite accessible even for those who have never played the original title. Aside from the career modes, it is possible to participate in friendly matches, create custom competitions and to enjoy just a single season of the competition. Teams may be controlled either by a human or the AI.
2. Sensible World of Soccer "96/"97
Published by Renegade Software, Sensible World of Soccer '96/'97 is an updated version of the hit soccer title Sensible World of Soccer. With significantly less bugs compared to the original, this top-down hit features both a Player-Manager mode and quick match options to suit different play styles. The former spans a 20-year in-game career which can last quite a while even for genre veterans. On the other hand, quick matches may be finished in just under 5 minutes.
The game features over 29,000 players across 1,400 international teams. The controls are kept simple, yet effective. There's no need for a radar as the screen already displays enough of the field as it is. A training facility exists for those who wish to play practice matches against the B Team. This is a great way to check the A Team's efficiency as well as to warm up for ranked matches. Additionally, there is an option to set up custom tactics and formations to ensure squad members perform their best.
3. Wembley International Soccer
Released in 1994, Audiogenic Software's Wembley International Soccer is an improved version of the top-down/side-scrolling soccer sim, Ocean's European Champions. This is an officially licensed title which offers full control over team tactics and formations, a free-kick system as well as one-touch passes which utilize picture-in-picture displays.
National teams replace clubs and a number of cosmetic changes have been implemented. Both pitch view options (top-down, side-scrolling) make a comeback so it is possible to switch angles depending on the on-screen action. Additionally, a scanner feature allows the player to keep track of everything at once.
Realism seems to be the name of the game as the stadium even features worn markings complete with the usual ads to be found all around. Animated sequences and crowd details complete Wembley International Soccer's authentic look.
4. Kick Off 2
Anco Software's Kick Off 2 expands upon the original in many ways. The game offers full tournament modes and a variety of multi-directional scrolling pitches (including the controversial plastic pitch). The players, goals and markings are in accurate proportions as well, with both league and cup tournaments available for play. Shoot outs and sudden death penalties have been implemented and occur whenever there is a draw.
League teams a evenly matched for the most part but make use of a number of different play styles. It is possible to load custom teams and tactics from "Player Manager" in order to pit them against another loaded team in single matches or league tournaments. Squad members follow tactics to the letter, with players moving quickly into position to gain possession of the ball.
5. Kick Off 2: Return to Europe
Kick Off 2: Return to Europe is an expansion to Kick Off 2 which allows the player to take part in three major European competitions: the European Cup, the Cup Winners Cup and the UEFA Cup. Each of these cater to different skill levels, with the European Cup being the toughest to beat. There are 32 teams per competition with squad members having unique combinations of skills and attributes. For instance, an international level player is always superior to a 4th division member in all aspects. It is possible to edit the skill levels of teams independently.
There are 24 referees all in all, each with their own temperaments. After extended play, it is possible to spot patterns in referee behaviors, knowing when a particular one has a set of red cards in hand or will turn a blind eye. However, they may still exhibit random behavior, much like when a person is having a good day or a bad day. An action replay feature allows players to view the action in slow motion and even record their best moments.
6. Kick Off
As they say, great things start from small beginnings. The original Kick Off paved the way for soccer simulations with its top-down view and realistic physics, a number of modern day browser games bear a striking resemblance including the new star soccer game. In order to be effective in Kick Off, the player must exhibit skill in both strategy and ball control. There is an option to practice passing, corner kicks, dribbling and tackles even before diving into actual matches.
Each squad member has a set of four stats, namely, Accuracy, Pace, Stamina and Aggression. Progress in the game requires players to adapt their teams and strategies to the level of the opposing teams. The game has a total of 12 referees with leagues consisting of 8 teams. Basically, these are matched evenly but specialize in varying styles and tactics.
7. Total Football
The game "Total Football" is named after Rinus Michels's influential tactical theory. It features 52-teams with an all-star squad included in the mix. The format is similar to the World Cup as players compete in a 32 team tournament, with 16 team leagues available. The title makes use of a low-angle, isometric camera view with buttons assigned to either passing the ball (in various strengths) or kicking it towards the goal. Team management is performs at the start of a match and during half-time. It is restricted to eight formation types.
There are various options which alter the conditions of the game such as weather conditions (indoors, sunny, overcast, rainy), time stoppages, referee strictness (no fouls, no cards, full), tie decisions and half length.
8. Sierra Soccer: World Challenge Edition
Released back in 1994, Sierra Soccer: World Challenge Edition is a soccer sim which offers both a training mode and friendly matches. Though unlicensed, it simulates the thrills of World Cup '94 with original squad members or random groups.
Each athlete has a total of six attributes which dictate how effective he is in specific situations during matches. The player is in direct control of his chosen team. This means that it is possible to choose the tactics the team will go for as well as the line-up they will use. Aside from standard matches, up to eight players may control a single team in the game's tournament mode. These may either be custom teams or national teams with altered names.
9. World Cup 90
Published by Genias and developed by Dardari Bros., World Cup 90 captures the spirit of the World Cup of 1990 held in Italy. That being said, expect all of the national teams which participated in said event to make an in-game appearance. The only caveat here is that due to licensing concerns, all of the player names are fictional. It is possible to create a custom team with the player's choice of name, jersey color and tactics. Rosters can also be changed according to player preference.
World Cup 90 features a two-player mode as well as a four-player link feature.
The soccer title Striker is an arcade-style soccer title developed by Rage Software Ltd. Aside from solo play, the game offers two-player friendly matches as well as a full, knockout-style tournament.
The controls are as precise as it gets when it come to soccer titles in the era. Pace, trapping and ball control are determined by the skill level of each team which leaves players free to focus on things such as tackling and passing. These moves may seem intimidating to new players but are pretty effective once mastered. Slide tackles, for instance, are performed using a couple of fast taps while shooting a goal requires the player to hold the fire button while determining a curve using the directional stick.
It was one of the first in the genre to utilize a 3D camera view. A radar assists in spotting team mates on the field -- a vital tool as the game puts much emphasis in team work.
We love footy - be it the real thing, or shouting our hearts out in the stands, or just trying to relieve or recreate matches in a virtual world using a game system. The good thing is that despite the Amiga's many graphical limitations, it still provides players with a distinctively fun way to experience soccer games. And the best of it all, it crunches the numbers for us so that we do not have to argue for hours about stats.