Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Sensible Soccer (Amiga)

Sensible Soccer title screenSensible Soccer title screen
Developer:Sensible Software|Release Date:1992|Systems:Amiga, Atari ST, DOS

Hey I've got a terrible idea, how about I play Sensible Soccer?

I haven't written about a sports game on Super Adventures for about five years now because I realised early on that they weren't working out for all kinds of reasons. These reasons include: I'm terrible at them, I usually don't know the rules, they don't give me much to write about, I often end up with a lot of empty green screenshots with tiny people standing around, and I hate them.

But I'm making a special exception for Sensible Soccer, on account of it being perhaps the most beloved Amiga game ever. It seems to have a spot reserved in every top 100 list right up near the top (unless they've chosen its sequel Sensible World of Soccer instead). Plus the spiritual successor, Sociable Soccer, is coming out soon, so it seemed like a good time for it.

Okay, I'll try to get this over with quickly, with as little whining as possible. I'll show a few screenshots of bland looking menus, a few of me losing a match, then we can both get on with our day.

It's always weird seeing the credits in a Sensible Software game, because I think 'hey that's my squad in Cannon Fodder!'

I already know this wouldn't have a song and photoshoot at the start like Cannon Fodder and Sensible World of Soccer, but it's still a bit disappointing. Well I mean it does have a song (written by 80s punk rocker Captain Sensible) but no lyrics, and this is the only photo they show. I'll give you a YouTube Link to listen to anyway.

Well the game's on and I've immediately been confronted with a screenful of football-related options. Here I can change my settings, save my data, start a league, cup or friendly match, and if I look inside 'Specials' I even get to play in the Euro-Cup, League of Nations and European Championships!

It's always seemed weird to me that a developer based in England would make a football game for a computer popular in Europe and then call it 'Sensible Soccer'. I guess the temptation of alliteration was too powerful. Either that or it's supposed to call back to Sensible's 1988 C64 classic, Microprose Soccer.

At first I thought I was stuck playing as European national teams, but then I figured out how to load club teams... or these guys. I can finally live my dream of playing a team of disk error messages against 90s EastEnders characters.

Anyway, I'm going to put the national teams back, and edit England to get rid of all the actual players and fill it full of my own guys.

Here's a long list of names that'll presumably bring back fond memories to someone looking at it eventually. Even I'm getting taken back to watching those Walkers Crisps adverts starring Gary Lineker.

They all have to go though. It's 2017 now and I need an up-to-date squad of crack ball-kickers for the internet age. I'm also putting my name in the 'Manager' box and changing the kit colours to Super Adventures red and grey. I’m sure some other country already has those colours, but screw ‘em.

I've decided to start a three-round cup, because it seemed... sensible. It'll give me the possibility of playing more than one match without forcing me to get my ass kicked by every team in turn.

I set the other seven teams to be computer controlled, so when they go up against each other I just get the final scores on screen without having to sit through a full match. I didn't realise how it worked at first though, and nearly started the cup without switching any teams to human control. Probably would've worked out better for me to be honest.

Alright, I've got my new team assembled and they're ready to go. Well okay, they didn't have time to get their hair done, so they've all still got the same heads as the England team they replaced, but I'm sure we'll do fine.

Hang on, it wants me to choose my formation before I start the match. I've got absolutely zero opinions on the subject of formations, except that I wish all the numbers were bigger (15-10-10 would do for me), so I think I'll just leave it how I found it.

The classic rivalry of Scotland v Super AiG.

Hey, they've used advanced photo manipulation technology to give the guy my team's colours!

Look at the little guys go! They're much smaller than the guys in Microprose Soccer, mostly because Sensible liked the tiny sprites they made for Mega Lo Mania and decided to make a football game with them.

Okay, let's see how badly I can lose this. If I win I'll have to play a second match, so wish me the opposite of luck.

The game’s basically pinball, except I've got 10 flippers running around and I can steer the one that's closest to the ball. Also, I’m up against 10 enemy flippers and there's no ramps, bumpers, targets or multi-ball. I don’t even get a scoreboard with little animations going on at the top of the screen.

Whenever I get possession of the ball I've got to make a choice about how I keep it away from the little guys in blue coming in to take it from me. Seems like the smartest thing to do is keep passing it between my other players, and move it up the field towards the other goal.

There's only one button on the joystick that I use for passing, shooting, tackling, etc. but the controls are pretty intuitive. If I pull a direction and then tap the fire button my football man will pass the ball to the team-mate in that direction. Holding the fire button will make him boot it down the field.

I'm running with the ball at my feet here, which is good, except it makes me slower than the enemies coming in to intercept. They're better at this than me so I need to get the ball to someone else to keep pushing forward.

Unfortunately, the ball was a couple of pixels away from my dude's feet when I pressed the button to pass this time, so he went on a sliding tackle instead. The faster I go, the less the ball sticks to my feet, so changing direction becomes tricky.

This is what always screws me up in this game, as I keep leaving the ball behind for whatever reason.

My goalie automatically blocked their shot! Or maybe I did it; I'm not sure whether I have control of the goalkeeper or not. I'm not sure of anything. I should never be allowed to review sports games.

One thing I am sure of though, is that if I mess up a shot it's not because of the camera, because it's zoomed out so far that I can see almost half the pitch at once. The game's very good at giving me all the information I need, and it looks pretty decent for what it is too.

The ball ended up rolling past the white line on the side, so that means I get a... free throw? Is that what it's called? A throw in? Anyway, there's no targeting icon appearing above anyone's heads, but I'm pretty sure if I aim towards one of those three players the ball will reach them.

Then I can get back to bouncing it between my blokes on the way up to their goal.

No, not my goal! Their goal!

I'm amazed at how fast that all went wrong, until my automatic goalkeeper saved me again. At least this brush with catastrophe put the ball back into my possession so I can begin pushing upwards again.

Or they could immediately blow the whistle for half-time.

Half-time means we switch sides, to make things fair. It also means I need to remember to kick the ball down the field instead of up from now on.

Man, that shot would've been perfect if we hadn't switched ends after half-time. My little goalie did his best but it flew right by him. Then it flew right by him again on the action replay, just to turn the knife a little more.

It's only 1-0 though, so there's plenty of time left for me to pull this back.

Or not.

90 minutes sure does fly when I'm getting my ass handed to me. Mostly because I set the game length to just 3 minutes.

The rest of the cup played out in secret matches until France ultimately walked away with the trophy. They didn't even let me see it.

And that's Sensi Soccer, one of the Amiga's most popular ever games. Beloved by all. I guess it must be better with two players... who both enjoy football. I did play a second match where I actually scored a goal, which was definitely more satisfying than not scoring goals, but despite its speed, fluidity, and near telepathy when it comes to controls, this was never going to hold much appeal for me.

Though I liked it more than Sensible Train-Spotting at least.


UnSensible Soccer
Actually I can't stop yet, because this is my one chance to show off this game demo that Sensible did for an Amiga Action coverdisk. It has two modes, Apples and Oranges (pictured above) and Norwich v Man. Utd. (spoiler: Man U wins).

Sensible Soccer: England v Germany
There's also an Amiga Power coverdisk demo that lets you play three different England v Germany matches in three different time periods: 1944, 1966 and 1993. In the 1944 version the ball's a hand grenade that rolls weirdly and occasionally explodes. Which is cool.

But wasn't 1914 the year of the Christmas truce football matches?

Sensible World of Moon Soccer
Plus there's Sensible World of Moon Soccer from another Amiga Action coverdisk, where you play as Moon teams on the Moon, but it doesn't count because it's a demo for Sensible World of Soccer. You can tell it's not the first game because a referee's shown up to give out a red card. That grass texture sure looks similar though, like it's the exact same art just slightly recoloured.

Cannon Soccer
And Cannon Soccer here's not even a Sensible Soccer demo at all! It's a demo for Cannon Fodder that just happens to take place on a really familiar football pitch.

Okay I really am done now.

Amiga Month will continue at some point in the future with some other game, possibly! Until then I hope you consider leaving a comment.


  1. That number 4 looks a bit wobbly on his feet.

    I made a custom team called "Chris Evans" and it has made up of identical ginger-haired men called Chris Evans. I thought this was hilarious when I was fourteen.

    Sensi is the first game I remember with an Easter Egg, although I know there were plenty of earlier games with them; it's just the first one I remember seeing. It's in the version after this, released for the 1992 European Championship; two of the custom teams are the 1966 England and West Germany squads and if you select them and play a friendly match, the game is played in black and white. Again, this was the best thing ever at fourteen.

    1. I love it when games have features like that. The black and white thing, not the team of Chris Evanses I mean.

  2. Hey, that's me up there!

    I don't think this would be that much more fun with two players, since as far as I can remember there is no multiplayer in this one.

    1. No it definitely has two-player, I started a match against myself to test (I still couldn't score a goal).

  3. What an honor to be invited to the team \o/
    I like football videogames, but I admit that I am very bad at them .......

  4. Oh my god, I’m number 7! Rad!
    The only sports games I’m any good at are hockey games. (I am Canadian, after all) Neat review, though! I never had PC gaming in my house as a kid, but I was always fascinated by my friends ones.

  5. According to the roster I'm there but I'm not playing any football, which is the correct amount of football to play.

  6. Are there any sports/sports games you do follow/play?

    1. Hmm... I sometimes play deathmatch shooters against bots, does that count? That's almost eSports!

      Otherwise, no. I wasn't blessed with whatever gene makes people interested in watching one team beat another team at something. That magic don't work on me.

    2. Fair enough. And sure, why can’t that be a sport? Our fav “sport”at my house is holing up in a convenience store in GTA V and seeing how long we can withstand a 5 star wanted level.

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