As a City fan, the only way I could play as my local club back in the 80s was to take my mum’s plants and other decor off the dining table, move a room full of furniture to set up my subbuteo pitch by pulling out the table. The FA cup noticeably much larger than the players and I had a selection of 3 teams, England and West Germany which I got in the box, but I had to get down to Carters and spend my Christmas money and buy myself the Bradford City team and Liverpool. To this day my mum still thinks I couldn’t iron when I was younger, but I made sure the subbuteo pitch was crease free and perfect, even at such a young age.
So, anyone old enough to remember Carters may appreciate this little article with some fond memories and this is my history of football games on various platforms. I’ve owned and played many football games over the years, but this is a selection of my own personal journey from the early 8 bits to today.
International Soccer – 1983 – C64
Back in the early 80s I was actually a Liverpool fan as were 99% of kids back in the day, and even now Ian Rush is still my all time favourite player, I will reveal my all time City legend a bit later on. Any spare time when the weather was nice I had to be out in the street playing slam, either 1 touch or 2 touch, but kids from a certain age will fondly remember International Soccer and was probably the first great football game to grace any computer platform. One trick I learned, if you managed to head the ball in your half, just keep running to the opponent’s goal with the ball still bouncing on your head with the opposition unable to get it from you.
Footballer of the year – 1986 – C64
Ok, this game is absolutely terrible looking back, but at the time I loved the vidi-printer at the end of each “game”, I did enjoy it for a while if I am honest, and “was of the time” is very apt for Footballer of the year. This is a game I am sure no one remembers, and for good reason. For all SKY, BBC and BT’s worth, surely someone can afford a vidi printer at full time on TV. Wish someone would bring it back.
Mircroprose Soccer – 1988 – C64
This game took football games to the next level, by this stage I was City through and through and my favourite all time City player was still plying his trade at Valley Parade, Ian Ormondroyd, but I yearned to play as City in my own living room. This game may not have delivered on that front, but what a cracking game it was and ranked as one of my favourite 8 bit games from the 80s. This may take some people back, I bought this game and many more from a computer game store in Kirkgate shopping centre, the entrance where you go up the escalators and there was a large brown hippopotamus you could crawl through. There was a computer game dedicated store just above this entrance, I forget it’s name but their carrier bags had a yellow smilie face on them.
FIFA International Soccer – 1993 – Mega Drive
If I am honest I had mixed emotions about this game, the controls were dire, it felt slow and had about as much charm as a drunk fat bloke in a mankini. The graphics were great at the time, a different perspective, the crowd had speech, yeah speech in a computer game, but the best thing about the very first FIFA football game was this……check out the clip.
Sensible World of Soccer – 1994 – Mega Drive
Finally, not a moment too soon, I could actually play a game as Bradford City, it only took a decade of waiting, kids nowadays don’t know they’re born. Sensible Soccer was a legend of a series in early computing in an era where many developers were producing games left right and centre. The graphics weren’t cracking, even for the time, but that was part of it’s charm, it was about fluid football. I’m sorry guys, this is the only clip I could find starring the might Bradford City.
Actua Soccer – 1995 – PC
Football and in glorious 3D, I “actua” hated this game from the off. This game put me off the transition to 3D football games for a few years at least. Modern football games do owe a lot to one of the early innovators in the genre.
FIFA 98 Road to World Cup – 1998 – PC
Excluding the 93 game on the Mega Drive, this was the first FIFA game as we know it that I went out and bought. I loved it, but teams I found limited and yearned to play others such as the Bantams. Very very dated by today’s standards, but the game is nearing it’s 20th birthday.
FA Premier League Stars – 1999 -PC
For a good few years I was grumbling at computer games, you could only play as Premiership clubs or International ones, and did anyone neutral want to play as Coventry or Wimbledon, so preferred choices were very limited or play as someone you’ve never heard of before? If I wanted to play as a Yorkshire club I had 1 choice and I hated it for that. So boy, was I happy when this little spin off came out and coincided with City’s rise to the Premiership. I could finally play as Windass etc and not only that, Valley Parade lovingly recreated in digital format which to this day I don’t think has been featured in any computer game, before or since. Got to admit it wasn’t as much fun as playing as Man U or Arsenal. But the novelty of playing as the Bantams at Valley Parade was worth every moment of those late nights. Check out the Symphony Stand at 4:35.
FIFA 13 – 2012 – Xbox 360
One con in the computer games industry is to release something before the edition date, magazines for example will release June’s edition in May in some cases at the start of May so giving a monthly product a 2 month shelf life to people unaware of this tactic, EA sports will release a sports game with the following calendar year in the title to give products extra shelf life, a great con and one not picked up on by most. FIFA 13 for me was the best FIFA game and since have gone downhill, a series I once loved has now lost it’s soul and feels more of a simulation than a game. Very little fun to play compared to games throughout the decades. FIFA 13 allowed me to win the Prem with players such as Hanson and Wells. What most people do is play as Real or Barca, but to really hone your skills, playing as City will definitely improve your tactical game as all the stars are far weakened compared to the best teams.
FIFA 17 – 2016 – Xone
I do hate the FIFA games now, I really do, but having EA Access I had to give this a go. The career mode is novel, but restricted in choosing teams, I went with Boro, I had to choose a Yorkshire club realistically, but it is so unrealistic, they signed Kane to “up the level”, erm I was playing as Boro. Restarted as Liverpool, so I’m playing as a youngster who’s childhood club is Liverpool, but with a very strong London accent, it just seemed a bit warped the career mode. It just didn’t work for me, just like implementing the ladies teams and giving them stats better than some quality men’s teams. No fun, I wish football went back to what it was like when different developers could release games not just 2. At least playing in career mode as City doesn’t take as long now not having to start in the 4th division. The series has no soul, but it doesn’t help having a Canadian team making the games now, old classics had a bit of a Roy of the Rovers feel, now it just feels plastic. City look good though on the pitch in the latest release. This following clip is how our last game should have gone. Maybe if EA worked on the story mode it could be a great part of the game, it does have great potential.