Konami and EA Sports have dominated the football scene with their titles over the last decade. PES and FIFA monopolise the market, and it doesn’t look like things are going to change anytime soon.
For those wanting to play a different title, this article introduces a handful of games to check out. The fact these titles are from 10+ years ago indicates the grip the big two have on the genre today. Maybe not a grip, but rather a strangle.
There are dozens of choose from, but here are a few you may have never heard of…
Virtua Striker 3 (GameCube)
A mainstay in arcades, SEGA’s Virtua Striker appeared on the Nintendo GameCube in 2002. Featuring international teams, the main aim is to win the International Cup. Playable sides include Brazil, Italy, and the mighty Scotland.
Virtua Striker, as a series, has always been a simple affair. The only buttons used are the directions, short pass, long pass, and shoot. The absence of a sprint button is notable, resulting in slower play, making it harder to attack and score goals.
Whilst not as refined as the other games in this article, Virtua Striker has one awesome feature. There is an unlockable team of Sonic the Hedgehog characters (with Dr. Eggman as goalie). Although worth a play on console, Virtua Striker is best where it belongs: in arcades.
This Is Football 2002 (PlayStation 2)
Here’s a game which will prick the ears of those who owned a PS2 in the UK. This Is Football, a series best remembered for two reasons. First off, the ability to dive, and second, the ability to commit two-footed challenges.
More time was spent trying to con the referee, than playing proper football. The temptation to press the R2 button, whether on or off the ball, would sometimes be too much. Oh, and there were other features, too (which don’t consist of cheating).
Besides regular clubs, there were all-star lineups, past squads, and even school teams. The latter were playable in a special mode named ‘Jumpers for Goalposts’. The final entry was This Is Football 2005, with TIF and other franchises ousted by PES & FIFA.
Ronaldo V-Football (PlayStation)
The PlayStation, a console inundated with football games. FIFA, ISS, Actua Soccer and This Is Football being the most prominent. Other titles received endorsement from a range of personalities, including David Beckham.
Ronaldo V-Football, championed by El Fenómeno himself, is perhaps the most underrated. There’s a variety of modes, including the V-Football Cup, based on the World Cup (what else?). Oh, and by the way, you can play as teams other than Brazil.
When going back to most retro football games, it’s amazing how shocking the physics were. Everything is well-polished off the pitch too, with a great interface and soundtrack. With Ronny, you can’t go wrong.
RedCard (PlayStation 2)
To label RedCard an unconventional football game would be an understatement. It’s edgy, hardcore, and outright anti-establishment. Have you ever wanted to play a title in which you could assault an opponent without the ref batting an eyelid? Well, now you can.
RedCard takes the ‘laws of the game’, and throws them as far out of the window as possible. It’s not just the tackles which make this game what it is. There are power-ups, ridiculous shots, and all-round hilarity.
There is the option to disable settings, and configure the game so it is ‘real’ football. This makes it boring. RedCard is a great alternative to the status quo, even more so when playing with a friend. Therefore, it’s a must-play.
Mario Smash Football (GameCube)
There are a lot of cartoon ‘soccer’ games, but none are anywhere near as good as Nintendo’s offering. Mario Smash Football is five-a-side, with power-ups, a moody Bowser, and an electric fence.
Settings are customisable, but those who dislike power-ups and such can disable them. Despite limited single player modes, it is the most enjoyable of the games in this list. And, although graphics are not the most important thing about a game, it still looks great today.
A sequel, Mario Strikers Charged, released for the Wii, then onto the Wii U as a digital download. This featured more characters and modes, but remained faithful to the core gameplay.