Spiritual Successor to Sensible Soccer On Kickstarter

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:


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.

41 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    johannsebastianbach says:

    Oh boy oh boy oh boy. Early christmas this year, isn’t it?
    I frickin’ LOVED Sensible Soccer.

  2. leeder krenon says:

    lol @ Dino Dini.

    • leeder krenon says:

      Everyone knows Jon Ritman is the godfather of football games.

      • Donkeyfumbler says:

        Exactly! Match Day 2 vs my brother on the Spectrum – those were the days.

        • Radiant says:

          ALL ABOUT CO-OP MATCHDAY 2.

          If International Soccer on the c64 taught my parents anything it was that me going head to head vs any of my brothers was “not good for the family”.

  3. Lobster9 says:

    Can one of the stretch goals be a Canon Fodder Christmas bonus round called Canon Soccer? Gosh, I’m old..

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Wasn’t that an Amiga Format exclusive that also had a demo of a Lemmings game (possibly Lemmings 2) on the same disk?

      • thekelvingreen says:

        There were two. The first one was set on the moon, as I recall, and had Sensi players kicking a grenade around. The second one was two — difficult! — levels of Cannon Fodder with a Christmas theme and setting Jools, Jops, and company against murderous football players and a helicopter.

        I had the second one. There were two disks, one red and one green. The Cannon Soccer levels were on one disk and the other — because it was Amiga Format — had some sort of “serious” software on it that was two versions out of date.

        No Lemmings content though, so that may have been the first one that I didn’t have.

  4. Heliocentric says:

    Or you could just link to gog.com right now

    • Guvornator says:

      That was the first game I ever owned. utterly glorious.

      I do hope Mr Hare’s business plan acknowledges that New Star Soccer is a thing that exists, though.

  5. The Sombrero Kid says:

    What the fuck is this “Football” or “Soccer” game you are referring to? Is it, in any way, like “Foot-to-ball”?

    • iainl says:

      As any Amiga owner will know, “Soccer” is essentially a cross between Foot-to-ball and Pinball, played at high speed.

  6. Gothnak says:

    Ah, my first job was at Anco, working on Player Manager 2 Extra with Steve Screech, Dino’s partner in crime.Sensible were always portrayed as the evil bastards who took Kick Off 2 and made a better version of it… (I liked Sensible better too)

  7. trashmyego says:

    That’s a pretty hefty target. Hope this gets exposure and some good turn out.

  8. Laurentius says:

    I am huge Sensible Soccer fan, I still play my on-going for years game in Sensible World of Soccer but I am very sceptical about it. Simply speaking I don’t belive 3-d graphics can work as spiritual succesor for game that its special type of graphical style and animation was a foundation of its success. Sprites ftw.

  9. Zankman says:

    There have been numerous spiritual sequels to this, some even on Steam…

    Why does this one get special attention? Because it features an original dev?

    Why not, you know, cover and give all of the indie titles in the same genre some exposure?

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      “Because it features an original dev?”

      Yep.

      • Zankman says:

        Cool.

        You should still give games in the same genre that *are already out* some exposure…

        – Natural Soccer

        – Kopanito All-Stars Soccer

        – Active Soccer 2 (especially this…)

        – Super Soccer Champs

        • Premium User Badge

          Graham Smith says:

          I’m aware of some of those games, but there’s nothing inherently interesting about just remaking Sensible Soccer. In part because it’s been done so many times both officially and unofficially. Sociable Soccer is still only borderline post-worthy, and that’s with the involvement of an original designer (and of one of the founders of Remedy) who have at least made original/interesting things.

          • Zankman says:

            Fair enough. I may not agree with your assessment but I at least understand your PoV now.

            (And those are mostly good games)

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Because it immediately tickled the nostalgia glands by reminding us old, ex-Amiga owning, types of this lot. (Jon is second from the left I think).

  10. Themadcow says:

    SWOS was the most enjoyable football game ever, by a country mile (not counting CM01/02 from a management perspective) but I’m also dubious that this project will deliver the goods. Most importantly, will you still be able to score 40 yard diagonal curling shots from THAT PART of the pitch?

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      One of the brilliant things about Sensi was that although it gave you the illusion of being a football game, it really wasn’t, it was a football based game. You wouldn’t approach a real game of the football tactically in anything like the same way you do in Sensi. Many things that are routine in football are either impossible or too difficult/limited to be effective in Sensi. The game takes the ideas of passing, shooting, dribbling and tackling and makes them into game mechanics rather than trying to simulate a football match.

      The biggest mistake I think they made with subsequent games was tring to bring the gameplay more into line with actual football. This makes it stop being Sensi and cross over into the territory of a crap competitor to FIFA.

  11. Beanbee says:

    This is one of the few times where I think I’m still happy with the original. I just don’t need a successor!

  12. iambecomex says:

    Anyone remember their first soccer game, Microprose Soccer on the C64? Banana kicks so wild that, if there was a thunderstorm, you could bend the ball so much from one sideline that it would be heading back into your own half by the time it went out of play. Glorious.

    • Llewyn says:

      I do indeed, with the (possibly more fun) indoor 5-a-side on the other side of the disc. It was one of the few games impoverished 12-13 year old me actually saved up to buy on disc.

    • leeder krenon says:

      Sliding tackles in the rain were my favourite thing about MPS.

  13. Qwentle says:

    Given the platform they’re funding on, wouldn’t Kick Off be more appropriate?

  14. Sin Vega says:

    God this is desperately needed. Football games have been fucking tedious for about 15 years now. Proper arcadey kickynet action is long overdue.

  15. Bobsy says:

    How much do I need to pledge to get a pc compatible zipstick! I can’t imagine playing on anything else.

  16. thekelvingreen says:

    All I really want is original Sensi in terms of graphics and gameplay, with online multiplayer. Simple.

    Ditto Mario Kart.

  17. Shazbut says:

    The premise here seems to be the idea that football games haven’t really progressed since 1995.

    Hmmm…

  18. Llewyn says:

    Many years ago, around the time that Krix and Jops were starting their thing, Jon Ritman was busy doing his and Dino Dini was nobody, I went to Scotland with my parents and discovered a Sensi-style footie arcade game in a table cabinet with a top-down view – two players head-to-head sat on either side of the table – and controlled with trackballs. I (rightly or wrongly) remember it having an aftertouch system for banana kicks, a pace somewhere between Microprose Soccer and Sensi, and a curved glass top. I also have a nasty feeling that Mum beat me at it.

    I didn’t pay any attention to what it was at the time – I think I just assumed it was a Microprose Soccer arcade machine (to be fair, I was only 12 or so). I didn’t see another of these things anywhere again, much to my disappointment. Any RPS readers recall anything along these lines?

  19. Little_Crow says:

    SWOS was a weird parody of football, yet at the same time managed to replicate all the agony and delight of it perfectly.
    The aftertouch mechanic was absolutely sublime, it was simple but gave an amazing amount of control for a single button joystick (preferably the ZipStick).

    I think most people want to be able to play a career mode with real leagues, clubs and players – and the budget certainly doesn’t indicate they could afford that (They mention 500 clubs, but I’m skeptical even of that).
    People certainly will create updated data files but you need to attract enough of a community to make people want to do it, and I’m not sure the social aspects that are being baked into it will be compelling enough.

    Still, at least I have ‘Goal scoring superstar Hero’ stuck in my head again some 20 years after first hearing it.

    • Themadcow says:

      Hmmm, 2nd mention of the Zipstick but I can’t imagine playing it on much less than a Quickshot Maverick.

    • Little_Crow says:

      Cheapo controllers were good for joystick wagglers/killers like Daley Thompsons Decathlon, but me and my brother killed an awful lot of Atari 2600 and Quickshot joysticks before finding the indestructible ZipStick.
      I’d say it’s my favourite controller of all time. Naturally that opinion is seriously swayed by the memories using it as opposed to it’s actual merits,

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        The zipstick was truly great, but towards the end of my Amiga ownership I gravitated more towards using a Megadrive joypad. The reason for this was that while I was really good with a zipstick when it was sitting on a desk, I was terrible at using it “joypad style” which was a popular thing among friends who had their Amigas set up more as consoles than as computers (Amiga on the floor below the TV, sitting on the end of the bed to play sort of thing) So taking my Megadrive joypad along to multiplayer Sensi sessions was crucial.

    • Premium User Badge

      patricio says:

      I went all out and bought an Advanced Gravis joystick in the ’90s. It broke during a particularly heated game of Sensi and Gravis refused to give me a refund when I sent it back to them saying it must have been mistreated as their joysticks didn’t break if used properly.

  20. Marr says:

    I feel like we already have a spiritual successor to SWOS, it’s called Rocket League.