By 1992 I was onto my umpteenth home computer/games console. I had been lucky to experience the Binatone, Dragon 32, ZX Spectrum, Sinclair Spectrum 128k +2, Atari 2600, Atari ST, and various handheld LCD games such as Game & Watch (Fire).
In 1991 I was lucky enough to get to an Amiga 500+ Cartoon Classics pack and a printer for my Christmas. It had included Captain Planet, Delux Paint 3, The Simpsons and the incredible Lemmings.
This home computer raised the bar, it completely changed the way I, and many others, consumed games. I could get new games for £10 or less, and they loaded in no time compared to the Spectrum s. The graphics were superior with a lavish suite of colours, and the gameplay in games was ratcheted right up.
Throughout the 80s, I had been on the lookout for a good football game. Sure, there were management ones like Soccer 7s, The Manager, British Soccer League and Premier League Manager came along in 1992. But as far as playing games you had to make do with Matchday 1 & 2, Kick-Off and Emlyn Hughes International Soccer. Don’t get me wrong Kick-Off and Emlyn Hughes were great. But, in 1992 the Sensible Software decided to change things up with the release of Sensible Soccer.
Team of the Year
Sensible Soccer (Sensi) was incredible! Even the box appeared more polished and glossy compared to games before it. But it was the 1994 release of Sensible World of Soccer that truly changed football games on home computers.
Sensible World of Soccer (SWOS) included various world leagues, a twenty-year career mode, and a transfer market allowing you to buy and sell players to bolster your squad in a bid to become champions. But, the gameplay is where Sensi really excels.
Sensi redefined the genre with the incredible gameplay and ease at which a novice could pick up the game. Although you still had to work to become an expert.
Sensi also managed to make players think the graphics and player animations were more detailed than they really were. People became so engrossed in the game, I include myself in this, that I thought that the players had many more positions, expressions and abilities than they actually did. This was the magic of Sensi, you were convinced Jim Bett and Ian Rush looked noticeably different, but they didn’t. Each player had their own personalities too, at least that’s what me and friends thought. Of course, they didn’t, but they did appear to in our eyes. Again all part of the Sensi magic.
After SWOS a number of official and unofficial updates were released. Then came Sensible Soccer 98, a 3D version of the game attempting to catch up with Fifa Soccer, amongst others, and failing miserably.
Mobile, PS2 and Xbox arcade versions of the game were released throughout the 2000s but, none of them captured what the original Sensi titles had. The game had lost its way, and the magic had gone as Fifa and PES started to corner the market.
Injury Time & 3 Goals Down
Sadly, the 2010s haven’t proven any better for Sensi. A new game Sociable Soccer appeared on Steam Early Access, only for the game to be pulled and moved to Apple’s new Arcade, launching in late 2019. Meaning the game shifted completely to iPads and iPhones. The Steam Early Access supporters are heartbroken and have criticised the halting of dev work on PC. Adding to the disappointment the game currently has a rating 2.9-star rating on Apple Arcade.
In short, the Sensi magic of the early and mid-90s has been lost for now, and it is unlikely we will ever see the game rise to be what it was back then given most people expect a FIFA Soccer sort of game nowadays.