Тhe Complete And Utter History Of Football Video Games
If you accidentally bumped into this page, be informed that you have reached FlashFooty.com, a place where Flash football games are produced and delivered since 2006. As the mission of this website is not only to entertain, but also to teach(?), in this article we will present our view of history of football video games. Some of those games inspired us to start programming and make this website. Some of them, as pathetic as it may sound, had significant influence on our lives in whole. By the way, the title of this article is a little bit exaggerated – this is by no means the complete history of footy video games, but- it sounds cool and attracts attention. Now, let’s get back to the theme… By the way, now we will deal only with action football games, not managers.
It all began in 1972, when company Atari Inc made a game called Pong. It was one of the first arcade games and the first which had a commercial success. Although it was actually a table tennis simulation, we will shamelessly put it in the football games category, since it didn’t look as a real tennis either. Point of the game was to score the goal using the pad which could be moved up and down.
In 1978,the first Football game appeared (that was it’s actual name – Football). Symbolically represented footballers moved around the top-down viewed pitch trying to put the blocky ball into the net. The ball didn’t bounce, everything was flat, but looked better than its predecessors.
Next step was made in 1979, when Intellivision made a 2-player game – NASL Soccer. A side view which was introduced in this game was copied many times in following years.
NASL Soccer (1979)
In the meantime, Atari produced games inspired with American football, basketball, even baseball. European football got its moment barely in 1980, when Atari Soccer was produced. Game had a black and white screen, teams of 3 players, with top-down view. It even contained some sort of crowd sounds, but didn’t draw significant attention. In 1982, for Atari 5200 console, another game was launched – Realsports Soccer. It had a side view and a revolutionary solution for the ball flight – it could bounce!
Mass entrance of computers into people’s homes began with era of 8-bit machines, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum, above the rest. Off course, football games came with them. Important moment happened in 1983, when a programmer Andrew Spencer made his masterpiece - International Soccer.
International Soccer (1983)
Maybe that appraisal was nostalgia colored, and maybe it was only the result of weak competition. During the reign of 8-bit machines, there were several dozens of football games produced, but only few of them could be called – good. Titles worth mentioning were – Match Day from 1985. (and it’s sequel form 1988.), Gary Lineker’s Superstar Soccer by Gremlin Graphics and 5 A Side by the company called Anirog (later renamed to Anco, the name that was yet to be craved in the history of football games).
Gary Lineker's S.S. (1987)
Match Day 2 (1988)
On the other side, market was filled with rubbish titles and it was not clear how did their publishers find courage to expose them to the public in the first place (who had a chance to play Super Soccer by Imagine, or Peter Beardsley’s International Football by Grand Slam, knows what I’m talking about).
Finally, when everything indicated that 8-bit computers were not able to bring out quality football game, two titles on C64 saved the day. In 1988, Microprose made their Microprose Soccer, and Audiogenic published Emlyn Hughes International Soccer. Two brilliant games which approached the football in different ways. Microprose Soccer reinvented the top down view (although graphically very similar to, several years older, arcade game Tehkan world Cup), with fast paced action, colorful graphics and neat options like - replays and different weather during the game. It introduced, so-called 'after touch' - possibility for player to swerve the ball after the shot. Emlyn Hughes International Soccer used practically the same graphics as the old International Soccer, but with full range of new movements and ways to pass and kick the ball. It also involved different characteristics for each player in the team.
Microprose Soccer (1988)
Emlyn Hughes (1988)
Arrival of Amiga
By the end of 80s, primacy in the home computers category was overtaken by 16-bit computers. In the beginning, 8-bit games were simply ported to new machines– with improved graphics, but without any significant interventions in the gameplay.
Kick Off (1989)
Those who found the Kick Off to be too hard, got their satisfaction in 1992. with the appearance of Sensible Soccer (by Sensible Software). The game brought slightly changed birds-eye view, editable club, national and user defined teams and gameplay which was much more user-friendly than Kick Off’s. Together with its edition Sensible World Of Soccer (1994), which utilized the most comprehensive base of teams and players ever seen, this game is considered as one of the top Amiga games ever and one of the milestones in football games history.
Sensible Soccer (1992)
FIFA and PES
The market was warming up. The age of C64 and Spectrum was already a long gone, and with it – the time when one game could dominate for the long time. Neither Sensible Soccer nor Kick Off couldn’t peacefully enjoy their glory, since in 1993, a company from United States (!), Electronic Arts, published the game titled FIFA International Soccer (also known as FIFA 94). That was the beginning of the series that apparently has no end, since EA publishes new, a little bit polished version on a yearly basis.
FIFA International Soccer (1993)
Coca-Cola has Pepsi. FIFA has its main foe, too. In 2001, Japanese company Konami published Pro Evolution Soccer (although, this series really has its roots placed in 1996, when they released Goal Storm). Main handicap in regards to FIFA series is that PES didn’t get all licenses required to use real names of players and team shirt looks. This is in some way outflanked by the loyal fan base of PES who provide so called ’option files’ or patches used to change predefined data in the game. This game, too, gets it’s ’brand new version’ every year. First it appears in Japan, under the name Winning Eleven, then it gets started in the rest of the civilized world.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2011
There were other games, off course. Gremlin Interactive tried with their serial, Actua Soccer (1995-1999). First version of this game is also the first game ever which utilized completed 3D engine (where both players and the field were done in 3D - although not very good looking). They couldn’t hold the step with competitors, and in 1999, company disappeared from the scene. There were also International SuperStar Soccer (Konami’s game for Nintendo from 1995. Predecessor of the PES series and the first to introduce numbers on players’ shirts), World Cup USA 94 (by US Gold), Sensible Soccer 98 (crap game that didn’t resemble the original at all).
Modern football games are technically perfect, but for a number of players this is exactly what makes a problem. Overwhelming amount of data and in-game options make the (human) player to ask himself – “where exactly is my place in the game?”. When an animated footballer performs some action, till what extent is that action result of human player’s influence, and how much of it is the result of predefined engine which defines how some dribbling or volley will be accomplished.