Top 10 retro soccer games – kicking through the decades PART 2

Soccer balls

Welcome to the second and last part of our journey through the top 10 retro soccer games.

The first part featured the games ranked from 10 to 6, so no dilly-dally today: it is time to reveal the titles that occupy the top 5 positions in the ranking. I hope you have not unfastened your memory belt, as another back and forth ride in time is coming. Are you ready to find out who the undisputed king of retro soccer games is?
Kick off (no, not the game lol)!

(Affiliate Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that – at no additional costs to you – if you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a commission) 

5. Soccer Superstars (1994) Platform: Coin Op

Soccer Superstars

Soccer Superstars

Someone calls this soccer video game by Konami the forerunner of the Pro Evolution Soccer saga. In fact, it is possible to recognize more than a few similarities with Pes, not only in the players’ movements, but also in commands and celebrations.

What I loved the most about this game was both the chance to create amazing goal-actions and the different characteristics of each team. Forget about all-star and “all-crap” teams:
Soccer Superstars’ sides featured tight-marking defense and/or skillful center backs on high balls, technical and/or muscular midfielders, fast attackers and/or a powerful shot taker.

The latter was Holland’s lethal weapon and a guy I used to play seemed to know that very well.
None of us were able to understand how he never failed to score from outside the box and -obviously – he would not tell anybody (in a world without internet certain peculiarities could only be discovered through experience 😀 ).

I think we had a bias against the Dutch squad, so we were more apt to believe that he was using some tricks. We eventually figured the whole thing out and got his number: no tricks, only super bombs shot by his central forward, but still we needed to erase that cheeky grin from his face.

I secretly implemented a defensive strategy with Italy and on the day of a legendary tournament – which took place in my favourite arcade – I met him in the quarterfinals: he did not know that I had figured out how to stop him and when I demolished him 4-0 to popular acclaim, he got hysterical, left the arcade and never set foot in there again.

I still feel a little bit guilty. 😀

4. Pro evolution soccer 5 (2005) Platform: PlayStation 2 version

Pro Evolution Soccer 5

Pro Evolution Soccer 5

* The best retro Pes by far. If on one hand, it is safe to say that Konami revolutionized the world of soccer video games, on the other one, Pes transition to the PlayStation 2 did not turn out very well.
A series of titles with gameplay, technical flaws partially ruined the relationship of trust between Konami and their fans. Luckily, Pes 5 set things straight.

What a qualitative leap compared to its predecessor (Pes 4): goal-actions, goalkeepers’ saves and animations were finally credible. In addition to that, the players’ movements without the ball were logical and well-timed, thus giving through passes a reason to exist. Last but not least, graphics was worthy of the name.

Not the best retro simulation of a soccer game – the award goes to the runner-up on this list – but definitely a solid effort by Konami.

I played Pes 5 for the whole 2005/2006 season and partook in all the Summer tournaments that were arranged in my town.
Lots of pleasant memories.

3. Mexico ’86 (aka Kick and Run) (1986) Platform: Coin Op

Mexico 86

Mexico ’86

Forget about its two official names, this game was universally called “Angry Football”, period.
Except for a goal being scored, everybody had an angry, funny face… Even the referee!

But I loved it, it looked like a cartoon. I wasted away with tournaments in the same old bar with my schoolmates, much to the joy of the barman. 10 years later, the man still remembered those times when that weird soccer game earned him at least 50 bucks a day. His arcade machine had never been that crowded.

Back to the game, I recall I used to drive older boys crazy with my USA (the fastest team in the game). Most of them would pick Germany because their players shot hard, but there was little they could do, when they had to face a team, whose players were basically uncatchable.

I just loved to hide the ball from them and score with a bicycle kick from outside the penalty area.
I was not one to brag, but I had a special catchphrase for sore losers (there were a few, sadly): “Germany shoot hard, but it is hard to shoot when facing USA!”.

Needless to say, such “soreboys” grew even more frustrated and would call me names at will. Actually, It was a crescendo of insults and physical threats, but no risk no fun, as they say. 😀

2. Football Kingdom Trial Version (2004) Platform: Japanese PlayStation (NTSC)

Football Kingdom

Football Kingdom

Football Kingdom was billed as the next big thing, at the time. I still wonder why Namco never released a sequel, what a shame! As the title suggests, it deals with a trial version and not the definitive game. Some flaws are therefore noticeable, but they are outshone by its superb overall quality.

Make no mistakes, the learning curve is very high – not to say a bit frustrating – and it will take a while before you can fully understand its deep gameplay mechanics. If you are tenacious enough though, you will have the privilege to play a soccer game that conveys a strong feeling of realism.

(almost) Anything is possible in this game: I still remember when I found out there was a dedicated button to slow down the ball carrier’s run: right after I pressed L2, some of his teammates started to sprint in order to receive a through ball in the open space. Amazing, teamplay at its best!
And what about those magnificent, ultra-accurate 40-meter long throws that – if taken with a technical player – just land on the attacker’s kicking foot? Such freedom of movement on the pitch lends creativity (almost) unlimited powers so, in the long run, you will be able to play quality soccer and score some incredible goals.
I must confess that Football Kingdom was the first soccer game simulation that made me experience suspension of disbelief. It is truly hard to believe that it was released 14 years ago… Still worth and ridiculously fun to play!
*


1. Sensible World of Soccer 96/97 (1996) Platform: Amiga version

Swos 96 97

Sensible World of Soccer 96/97

All hail the King!!! If there was ever any doubt, I will be quick to remove it.
Sensible World of Soccer (aka Swos or Sensi) is not only the best retro soccer game, it is also the best soccer video game ever, one of the best video games in history and last but not least, one of my favourite video games of all time.

I have played it without interruption since 1992, when it was still called Sensible Soccer. It was love at first sight and the beginning of an endless addiction to a game that – despite featuring disarming simplicity – never ceases to amaze you.

You do not need a variety of buttons to proficiently play Swos: just maintain different levels of pressure on a single button and those pixelated soccer players will execute countless technical gestures.

Such a brilliant control system could only be echoed by a supreme gameplay: just when you think you have seen everything – because after 26 years one thinks it is impossible to not have seen everything – you suddenly score a goal from an impossible position or land that header combo you had been unsuccessfully trying for years.

Sensi is all this and much more: it is friendship, fits of laughter, joy and sleepless fun nights.
And again, Sensi is carefree teenage memories, ranging from the hours spent editing custom teams with the names of your friends/classmates, to browsing through the thousands of clubs in its database, looking for hidden champions for your career mode team. When I found one, I would brag for weeks, I felt like a real talent scout. 😀

Swos was also the first soccer game to feature players with different – and customizable – physical characteristics. I know, such a customization sounds laughable today, but back then, seeing a fair-haired Dennis Bergkamp or a dark Skinned George Weah really had an impact on us fans.

Anyway, I think it is unjust to go on now: this is just a summary and Swos deserves its own article and its own page.
It will not be long before I write it and it will be something like “26 years of Swosness”. 😀

Final whistle – No extra times needed

Swos walks away with an overwhelming victory, how could it be otherwise? We are talking about a game that – after 26 years from its first release – is still played by thousands of people around the world. Many of them do even play it online, thanks to a program called Kaillera.

For the rest, I know that there are some high-profile exclusions in this ranking (Kick Off anyone?), but I guess this is the beauty of lists: you can compare your personal opinions and experiences to enrich one another and learn new things.

For this reason, I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this evergreen topic.
Whether you agree with me or you think my ranking needs VAR, I will be more than happy to officiate… 😉

Till next Retro ranking!

*

AliExpress.com Product – Sensible Soccer inspired T-shirt
A 90s Amiga Classic Game. Free shipping Unisex

 

About Andrew A.

Andrew is the founder and owner of RetroGamingLoft. He considers himself a natural-born gamer and is on a mission to keep our younger gaming years alive through the medium of Retro Stories. His event recount includes hopes, dreams, broken joysticks, magic, nostalgia and another final boss defeated.

24 thoughts on “Top 10 retro soccer games – kicking through the decades PART 2

  1. Stefan Vogt

    That’s fun, all these past football championships.

    I wish there would be some of these available for my laptop.

    I’ll have to check out the first part and read more of your funny stories.

    I used to love angry football a long time ago, in my favorite restaurant and meeting place.

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Stefan and thanks for your nice comment.
      Actually, today you can buy some old or newly manufactured arcade machines featuring thousands of old, classic games (including soccer ones, of course).
      If you do not have enough space for a cabinet – which is understandable – there are some new devices that you can use as handheld consoles or directly connect to your tv. Prices do vary…There are both very expensive arcade machines and quite affordable devices. I think it depends on how nostalgic we are. 😉
      I suggest that you take a look at Amazon, I am sure you will have a nice surprise. 🙂
      Angry football was truly unique, every once in a while I have to play it again… I hope I will be able to arrange a Mexico ’86 offline tournament one day, it would be a blast!
      Till next Retro Ranking!

      Reply
  2. Ant

    I love the theme and colours of your site, found it really heasy to navigate and I have sent this to my Dad as he loves soccer.

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Ant, thanks for dropping by.
      I am very glad that you like it and I hope you will be a regular here, I plan to publish a lot more often in the next few weeks.
      It would be nice to hear from your dad, maybe he is a retrogamer like me and we could share some nice memories.
      Stay tuned for more Retro articles!

      Reply
  3. Palm Nyamz

    This is great staff bro. Haha you are obviously very passionate about this and you have got your information spot. Some of these games I didn’t know myself but I am sure they are filled with great staff as you have mentioned especially the sensible world of soccer, I burst into laughter reading about it. Great writing bro.

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Palm, I am glad to hear you enjoyed my article.
      Yeah the secret was/is laughing and having a good time. Whenever I think of my favourite video games I instantly smile and that helps a lot carry the burden of daily chores.
      Of course this cannot be avoided when you are a grown adult, but talking about my wonderful younger gaming and sharing my memories with my readers is a real panacea.
      Stay tuned for more Retro posts!

      Reply
  4. Jennifer

    Hi
    I can see that you are really passionate about your soccer games part 2 just as in your part 1.

    Interesting and funny read.

    I can feel your excitement through the screen. lol
    I must also say I had a little laugh reading and this is a good thing.
    Keep up the good work here
    Jennifer

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Jennifer, it is nice of you to say that.
      Thank you for showing appreciation, to please my readers is my ultimate goal.
      Yeah I am truly passionated but entertaining you all is what motivate me to keep on telling my retro stories.
      Until next Retro Ranking!

      Reply
  5. Brandon

    I’m a HUGE fan of old school retro games and loved Football Kingdom Trial Version. Me and my cousins use to have a blaaaast back in the day. I also wonder why they never released a sequel, I think it would’ve been a great success, however, their loss. These other games I am not fond of but they definitely do look amazing. Thanks for bringing back the fun times!

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Brandon, I am so pleased to read your comment, i feel great when I capture my readers’ interest.
      No need to thank me, mine is a mission 😉 and your appreciation means I am on the right track.
      Yeah, Football Kingdom rocks, period. You know what, back then
      FK was so good that although I had the all Japanese version (no English menus) I decided to learn of bit of the Nihongo language in order to be able to fully enjoy the game.
      The power of fun… 😀

      Stay tuned for more Retro articles!

      Reply
  6. Holly Brace

    OMG me and my brother used to LOVE playing Soccer Superstars! I was never good at it though and he used to thrash me every single damn time haha! We had this one and a huge coin operated King Kong machine that our parents bought on a whim. This has definitely brought back so many memories! 

    He’s 30 this year and I want to buy him one as a present – alas I don’t know if I’ll ever find one! May have to settle for FIFA boooo! 

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Holly and thanks for stopping by!
      I am going to paste an excerpt from another reply, I am sure it will answer your question: ”

      “Actually, today you can buy some old or newly manufactured arcade machines featuring thousands of old, classic games (including soccer ones, of course).
      If your brother does not have enough space for a cabinet – which is understandable – there are some new devices that you can use as handheld consoles or directly connect to your tv. Prices do vary…There are both very expensive arcade machines and quite affordable devices. I think it depends on how nostalgic we are. 😉
      I suggest that you take a look at Amazon, I am sure you will have a nice surprise. ”

      In addition to that, to my knowledge you can customize the list of games in some cases. You should contact the manufacturer and specifically ask for Soccer Superstars and any other games that you would like to be included in the cabinet.

      That said, if you ever have a chance to play Soccer Superstars again, please follow my suggestion: get Holland, work your way to the penalty box and shoot just from outside of it. The keeper (any keeper) will have no chance. This is the strategy used by the guy I trashed in that tournament, but I have never told anybody how I was able to stop him, so no worries, you will score! 😉

      Till next Retro Ranking!

      Reply
  7. Emmanuel Buysse

    Another great post and great retro football games.

    For the majority I was too young, I was born in 90, so I missed the best part, but I enjoy reading about the old games, they truly intrigue me.

    Do you know how I could play these games? That would be epic!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello again Emmanuel and thanks for your comment.
      I am happy that I was able to intrigue you.
      I will paste again the answer that I gave to another reader, I hope you will find it helpful:

      “Actually, today you can buy some old or newly manufactured arcade machines featuring thousands of old, classic games (including soccer ones, of course).
      If you do not have enough space for a cabinet – which is understandable – there are some new devices that you can use as handheld consoles or directly connect to your tv. Prices do vary…There are both very expensive arcade machines and quite affordable devices. I think it depends on how nostalgic we are. 😉
      I suggest that you take a look at Amazon, I am sure you will have a nice surprise. 🙂”

      Thanks again for stopping by, till next Retro Ranking!

      Reply
  8. DerrAd

    Hi Andrew, 

    That’s an interesting article to read. It reminds me of the old days when I used to speed off with my friends to game station. I’ve really enjoyed these games and looking back from now I see how funny the game is comparing with the latest versions available. You’re really passionate about this. Keep the memories alive. 

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Derr and thanks for your nice comment.
      You know, the bad thing is that such times will not come back, but we have a chance to relive and share them through memories and stories. And when you are able to intrigue someone, the feeling is indescribable.
      Thanks for your encouragement, I am on a mission, I will never stop! 😉
      Stay tuned for more Retro Rankings!

      Reply
  9. Garry Isbell

    Andrew,

    Wow! This really brought back many memories of my childhood.  Commodore 64, Atari, and Sega really took me back to my young gaming days when I would spend many hours a day with friends playing sports games and such.  I really enjoyed your site as the structure of the website was outstanding.  The content was unbelievable and I am sure it has touched many as it has touched me with bringing back memories.

    My son is a gamer.  His system is Xbox one.  Though I do wish he would spend less time on it, I do know that he does enjoy playing it and I am sure when he is my age and would come across a site like yours someday, he will also regain his childhood memories.  The systems now compared to Atari, Commodore 64, and even Nintendo have come so far with graphics and design that it is amazing.  The movements and graphics being so realistic is what amazes me the most.  I remember trying to control stick people it seemed.  

    You really have presented some great content with outstanding writing ability to display your passion for video gaming and the evolution of it.  Great job and keep producing great content.  I will be showing my son your site!

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Garry,

      Seldom do I remain speechless… Well, this is one of those few times. Really, I am flattered by the genuineness of your in-depth comment.
      As a gamer and as a father I can perfectly relate to everything you said. There are times where I wish my kids would spend less time (strange being said by me, isn’t it? 😀 ) but at the same time I have instilled in them what I call the “enjoy it together mentality”. I am glad because they do not see gaming like a solo hobby, but something to enjoy with the people they love and something to make new friends with.
      Such memories will stay forever and I am sure that both them and your son will pass on the legacy.
      Again, I cannot thank you enough for your words, I promise I will do my best to keep producing empathic content!

      Ps.
      I hope your son will like my blog and become a regular reader. 🙂

      Reply
  10. Babsie Wagner

    This article is such a kick.  I bought my sons a PlayStation 2 back in the day, and they loved that silly Pro evolution soccer 5 game.  I remember my sons almost having fist fights about it, they were that into it.  when I look at this site, nostalgia floods over me, and I am taken back to those years, not that long ago, but far enough back that life has completely changed.  My sons (twins) were probably 12 or 13 at the time, and now they are grown men of 25, and my one son has a daughter of his own.  Believe it or not, they still play games together, but online now. 

    Great article.  Thanks! 

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Babsie and thanks for another lovely comment… I can perfectly relate to your flooding nostalgia, as I associate every game that I listed with a particular moment in my life. But you know what? Many things have changed , but I am still here playing and now I have 3 special playmates to have fun with: my kids.
      I wish your beloved kids the same: many light years of fun both with each other and with their kids.
      I wish you all a Merry Christmas!!!

      Reply
  11. Mike Viray

    Oh my god. I remember when the PS2 first came out and you had all these amazing games for it as well. I’m not really a soccer/football fan but seeing what devs were able to achieve on the PS2 was astounding.

    Also, nice article. It’s pretty enlightening to be able to read in depth stuff like this coming from enthusiasts like you. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Mike and thanks for your comment.
      I agree with you, the PlayStation 2 is the console who has impressed me the most by far. Make no mistake, today’s consoles and games are jaw-dropping, but the PS2 took the greatest technological leap ever… One of my friends perfectly summed it up : “We went to games that were games and looked like 80s cartoons in most cases to the real thing!” He is absolutely right, our 90s naive eyes were so surprised… Personally it took me years before playing a PlayStation 1 game again, the difference was embarrassing indeed.

      Thanks again for stopping by and please stay tuned for more Retro articles.
      Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

      Reply
  12. Ali Batuhan Oguz

    I read Part 1 before. When I saw the playstation 2 games, I came up with the winning eleven game. It was another game I played with my friend the most. The excitement of the game was priceless. time passes quickly. For some reason I did not find the excitement of the current football games. I think it was because I played the game with a friend of mine. Anyway. This topic reminded me of the old days. Thank you very much for such a content.

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Ali, I appreciate you taking the time to comment on Part 2 as well.
      Well, you said it: video games are fun and amusing, but if you can share the experience with your friends it will be simply unforgettable. I do not think I would have created this blog if I had not shared so many gaming experiences with my friends.
      Thanks again for dropping by, please stay tuned for more Retro articles.
      I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas!

      Reply

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