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Microprose Soccer

Sensible Soccer mk1.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

A homage to arcade footy sensation Tehkan World Cup (the one with the trackball), this top-down stab at the beautiful game was, in effect, the original Sensible Soccer and provided C64 fans with one of the most technically impressive games ever released on the ageing home computer.

Predating Sensible's more famous football game by almost four years, the option to play an indoor or outdoor version (on either side of the disk or tape) made this especially appealing, and great value for money. In raw gameplay terms, Microprose Soccer was a deliberately comical affair, with no attempt to provide anything even approaching the 'realism' found later games.

With a disproportionately large match ball, hilariously over-the-top banana shots, exaggerated sliding tackles and thunder storms liable to cause chaos in the middle of a match, games were often more memorable for what went wrong rather than how many goals were scored.

Uruguay. Giggle.

And yet the super-serious Microprose box artwork gave the entirely misleading impression that this was a game in-line with its usual range of sober simulations. No matter, because Sensible's already prolific track record and a slew of positive reviews ensured that the game's brilliant feel and unprecedented graphical techniques were shouted from the rooftops.

Although a fantastic two-player game, the included World Cup mode offered something that, at the time, was still a major novelty; as was the ability to play a proper tournament against progressively tough opposition (kicking off, lest we forget, with Oman - included purely because Chris Yate's mum was living there at the time).

But other things also marked Microprose Soccer as a landmark title, such as superb instant replays (which let you relive all those bizarrely unrealistic goals) and the typically impressive soundtrack from the ever-reliable Martin Galway.

Unfortunately, the game's legacy was forever tarnished by a slew of lacklustre ports (please, don't go near the Speccy, Amiga or PC versions), but for those who remember the original C64 Microprose Soccer, this represents a pivotal point in the evolution of footy games as we know them today.

9 / 10

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