Jon Hare, one of the designers of the brilliant Sensible Soccer, is trying to Kickstart a spiritual successor called Sociable Soccer. He and a small team are asking for £300,000 to make the game happen
Sensible Soccer was a superb, quick, 2D football game that recreated the flow and feel of football better than any of its mid-’90s rivals. I played it for hundreds of hours and its sequel, Sensible World of Soccer, for thousands more. I loved it so much that I invited friends round and had tournaments. Sociable Soccer is trying to recreate the same speed and fluidity, but with a 3D engine, a camera which can take multiple positions, online multiplayer, and a slightly confusing system of ‘clans’ as well as teams. On the subject of clans:
“Sociable Soccer Clans are teams of player avatars grouped together under team names such as ‘Death Metal Kids’, ‘Surfboarders United’ and ‘Cambridge Old Boys’ the control and progress of clan teams is shared by the players who are represented there by their player avatars.”
I think this is essentially a semi-multiplayer mode where you can play matches in which you control a team of other player avatars, while those players are offline or play their own singleplayer matches which feature your avatar in the same team, and then everyone’s results are collated into some sort of online leaderboard. I don’t know for sure, though! There will also be more traditional head-to-head matches.
My love for Sensible Soccer – and Sensible Software games generally – is great enough that I should likely be excited about this, but instead I’m skeptical. In part because Sensible Soccer has been tried in 3D before, in the dismal Sensible Soccer 98 and the disappointing Sensible Soccer 2006, and hasn’t worked in either instance. Partly that’s because neither game replicated the camera angle of the original, but in the latter, which was designed by Jon Hare and developed by Kuju Sheffield, there also seemed to be a less satisfying sense of control over the ball than in the originals.
Hare also talks of bringing online multiplayer to a Sensible Soccer-style game in the Kickstarter pitch video for Sociable Soccer, saying “Finally it’s here!”, but there was already online multiplayer in an XBox Live Arcade remake of Sensible World of Soccer in 2007, also by Kuju Sheffield. It was why I bought an XBox 360. It was great.
So exact remakes of Sensible Soccer are pretty grand, whereas ambitious attempts to modernise it have traditionally failed. Still, it’s nice to have this to go alongside Dino Dini’s simultaneous revival of Kick Off (on PS4 and Vita only, alas). The smack talk has already started:
If he want's to call himself the godfather of football games that's fine by me. I'm more like the real thing. :P
— Dino Dini (@dndn1011) November 12, 2015
At the time of writing there’s an early bird deal to get a copy of the Sociable Soccer for £12 upon its release in December 2016, with the price rising to £15 once the early reward tier runs out.