Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Sensible World of Soccer was my favourite game when I was a kid. It was probably an unhealthy obsession, given that I poured hours into it every day for weeks, months, years and bored the shin guards off everyone around me.
If you’ve somehow avoided all nostalgia for the series these past twenty years: Sensible Soccer, and its richer sequel Sensible World of Soccer, are top-down football games in which the players are tiny, you can see lots of the pitch, and it therefore encourages quick movement, passes and overall creates exhilarating matches. It had hundreds of real players and teams, its only cheat being that “UEFA” was called “EUFA”, which seems a legal loophole too dumb to be real. Where rivals like Kick Off made the ball and pitch feel slippy and therefore frustrating, Sensible Soccer was always in your control, always enabling your feats of footballing brilliance.
SWOS is a great game, but it was also the first game I was ever truly good at. I was terrible at most of the other games I played on Amiga, including many by Sensible Software and many more that I loved. I often didn’t realise it at the time, but I failed in most games to get past the second or third level. By comparison, I could beat anyone at SWOS, and win the World Cup as the Faroe Isles against the computer. At least part of my love for it comes from that sense of having mastered something others hadn’t; a valuable experience in a household with two older brothers who were better than me at all other games.