The Sensible SOCCER GUIDE
SENSIBLE SOCCER HAD A REAL IMPACT ON FOOTBALL VIDEO GAMES, SELLING OVER TWO MILLION COPIES ACROSS VARIOUS FORMATS. ANDREW FISHER LOOKS BACK AT THE MANY VERSIONS OF THE GAME
TEKHAN WORLD CUP (ARCADE, 1985)
In a ZZAP! 64 interview, Jon Hare complained about the standard of computer football games. He had become addicted to this arcade game, controlled by trackball and a single action button. The overhead view would be a significant influence as Sensible created their first-ever sports game — and ZZAP!'s preview helped find a publisher.
MICROPROSE SOCCER (C64, 1988)
MicroProse created a glossy box and manual with football history. The action was Sensible to the core, with its swerving banana kicks. Sprite overlays created detailed players, with brilliant action replays after a goal, with video bars and a grey palette. Optional weather made the outdoor 11-a-side game unpredictable when performing a sliding tackle, while the 6-a-side indoor game was frantic; both had lengthy tournament modes. It gained a massive 95% from C&VG. "Microprose Soccer is, without doubt, one of the greatest C64 games to date… Miss it at your peril.”
Sensible did not create Amiga and Atari ST versions; these were contracted out to The
Electronic Pencil Company. The programmer tried to emulate the 6502 code, and the reviews were disappointing. Jon composed a promotional song to perform at trade shows, reviving it years later for retro events.
SENSIBLE SOCCER (AMIGA, ATARI ST, 1992)
The “little men” graphics appeared first in Mega-Lo-Mania; putting them in football kits spawned a new soccer game. Virgin wanted to rename it Virgin Soccer — but Sensible signed with Renegade instead. Fast and furious action appealed to players, and the control method was easy to grasp, with its fantastic aftertouch. There's even original music composed by Captain Sensible.
SENSIBLE SOCCER 92/93 (VARIOUS)
This minor update added red and yellow cards. Atari ST, CD32 and Acorn Archimedes got versions while also appearing on Master System and Game Gear (developed by Eurocom). Sega-CD, Genesis and SNES versions were released as Championship Soccer 94 in the USA.
COVER DISK COMEDY (AMIGA, 1993-1995)
Amiga Format gave away Cannon Soccer for Christmas 1993, two levels of Cannon Fodder with snowy backgrounds and enemies wearing a football kit.
Amiga Power Coverdisk 21 had Sensible
Soccer: England vs Germany, or Sensible Soccer Meets Bulldog Blighty. Players became Cannon Fodder soldiers, and the ball was a grenade that flashed randomly before exploding.
Amiga Action had Sensible World Of Moon Soccer, with craters on the pitch, lower gravity, and alien players with strange names. unSensible Soccer featured a match between apples and oranges and pitting Jon's beloved Norwich City against Manchester United.
SENSIBLE SOCCER INTERNATIONAL VERSION (VARIOUS, 1993)
Minor changes to gameplay and a dedicated World Cup tournament accompanied a new Jaguar version. Stoo Cambridge enjoyed working with its enhanced palette of colours.
SENSIBLE WORLD OF SOCCER (AMIGA, 1994)
Known as SWOS, the massive database of 1,500 teams and 27,000 players was compiled by the expert behind Rothman’s Football Yearbook. Career mode saw the player manage a club through twenty seasons, dabbling in the transfer market. The title music “Goalscoringsuperstarhero” was written by Jon and composed by Richard Joseph, with vocals by Jackie Reed.
Issue 64 of Amiga Power rated SWOS the greatest Amiga game of all time. It was part of GameSpot's 2004 list of the greatest games of all time. In Stanford University's 2007 list of the “ten most important video games of all time”, SWOS was the only game chosen that was developed in Europe and the only sports game. The game is now playable on Antstream.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SOCCER 2 (MEGA DRIVE, 1994)
Sensible created this under contract to
Sega, credited as The Mystery Chefs. The player hairstyle, a 1980s mullet, was based on the TV character Lovejoy! The pitch scrolled horizontally rather than vertically; there was support for four players with the Team Player adapter and tournaments (including the 1994 World Cup). GamePro's 70% review stated, “The graphics barely improve on the original, and the sound is slightly above average, but it still is a fun game to play, and though not among the elite soccer carts, it is still a solid game."
FURTHERING THE FRANCHISE (VARIOUS, 1994-1997)
The free 1.1 update of Amiga SWOS
launched in 1994 to fix bugs, followed by the full DOS conversion. These included sixtyfour fantasy teams featuring parodies and funny names, plus a unique "Astroturf” pitch, simulating 1980s plastic pitches. The 95/96 edition for Amiga added low passes and standing headers, with improved menus. PC and Amiga users got the European Championship Edition with its Euro 96 tournament mode. Sensible World Of Soccer 96/97 contained updated data for the new season on Amiga disks and PC CD-ROM. Rarities are the 96/97 updater disks (upgrading older versions to the latest database) and Virgin's White Label release of European Championship Edition.
Fans have since created their own updates, notably the Cresswell brothers' World Cup 1998
disk. An editor for 96/97 is available at https:// www.swoes.info/editor_downloads/. The website https://www.sensiblesoccer.de/ hosts online leagues and tournaments, plus a 2020/21 season update package.
SENSIBLE SOCCER 98 (DOS, WINDOWS, 1998)
In development as Sensible Soccer 2000, this took the game into 3D with a World Cup 1998 tournament mode. Reviews were mixed, although 7 out of ten from Edge summed it up. “Not the world-beater it was, but there's plenty on offer, nonetheless."
SENSIBLE SOCCER 98: EUROPEAN CLUB EDITION (WINDOWS, PLAYSTATION, 1998)
Krisalis Software took the game to PlayStation, with over two hundred European teams filled with real-life player data. Penalty kicks were displayed from a 3D viewpoint. Up against the mammoth FIFA franchise and its official licenses, it did not stand a chance.
SENSIBLE SOCCER MOBILE (JAVA, 2005)
Jon worked with Tower Studios to create this early app version with friendlies, cups and challenges, plus fifty national teams to choose from. Sensible Soccer Skillz by Cobra Mobile in 2006 had players take on free kicks, corners and penalties as striker or goalkeeper, using a context-sensitive button – but lacked any multiplayer options.
PLUG & PLAY CONSOLE (2005)
This two-player console was designed to quickly attach to a TV. It featured Sensible Soccer alongside Mega-Lo-Mania and Cannon Fodder.