Nothing quite stokes nostalgia in the heart of a particular brand of millennial as memories of playing old school soccer video games.
Whilst some were no doubt better than others, back in the 90’s and early 2000’s it was still a novelty for many to be playing a game of (fairly) realistic football with their favourite players and teams in some of the world’s greatest stadia.
With that said, a handful of these games were particularly groundbreaking in one way or another. Whether it was due to their gameplay, graphics and details, or banging soundtrack, some titles just changed the soccer video game landscape forever.
In this article, that’s exactly the kind of video game we are concerned with. Whilst the past thirty or so years have been packed with stellar titles, we care only about the very best old-school releases.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at our collection of the very best old school soccer video games of all time…
Sensible World of Soccer (1994)
First up is perhaps the most widely-loved, definitive old school soccer video game of them all. With a cultish following to this day, Sensible World of Soccer or ‘Sensi’ as it is known to devotees, is one of the most revolutionary titles of all time.
This is down to a number of reasons. Primarily, Sensi will be remembered by fans for the speed and often manic nature of the gameplay, which proved ahead of its time in terms of fun and sheer immersion in each and every match. Hours would be lost at the mercy of this most obsessive of old school soccer video games, with many an assignment or glorious summer day written off by the sheer playability of Sensible World of Soccer.
Then there was Sensi’s amazing arcade-style gameplay that valued action over detail to devastating effect. Whilst there was an impressive array of teams and players included in this game, it really was all about the exciting and free-flowing nature of the football you could play with just a few games of practice.
Truly a revolutionary soccer video game that’s as old school as they come, Sensible World of Soccer is one of the best-loved football titles of all time and retains a passionate fanbase to this day.
FIFA: Road to World Cup 98 (1998)
As soon as you heard the iconic intro to Blur’s ‘Song 2’, you knew that you were about to spend an hour or two in the grip of what has proven to be a truly legendary FIFA instalment. To this day the snappy chords of that 90’s classic are enough to send shivers down the spine of millennials from New York to Newcastle, and the gameplay wasn’t bad either.
With revolutionary graphics, the opportunity for one-touch play and that amazing arrow that allowed you to put free-kicks and corners (almost) right where you wanted, FIFA 98—as fans know it—represented a serious shift in the nature of the entire FIFA franchise. Whilst newer versions of the game often dominate modern-day top 10 soccer games lists, FIFA 98: Road to World Cup 98 remains a true old school classic of the genre.
Championship Manager Season 97/98 (1997)
Whilst it is more a game of strategy than a traditional soccer video game, Championship Manager 97/98 remains one of the most beloved old-school soccer video games of all time. Playable only on PC, the title will forever be remembered for the sheer size of its player database, complete with unnervingly-accurate stats. This instalment of the Championship Manager series set the tone for the incredibly convincing nature of future iterations of the game.
In fact, this dazzling game managed to create a footballing world that would swallow players up for months at a time. The sheer thrill of carrying a minnow through to the Premier League or signing one of the world’s hottest young prospects and nurturing them into a Ballon d’Or winner is yet to be matched by any other old school soccer video game title.