Have You Played… Sensible World Of Soccer?

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.

22 Comments

  1. Laurentius says:

    I have and it is still fantastic. It is so good to return to this game every once in a while and got a crack at another season. SWOS ftw.
    And I’ve played it always on PC.

  2. PancakeWizard says:

    Crucially, you could change player names and team kits. Good old Sensi.

  3. deiseach says:

    I think ‘Eufa’ was not uncommon as an acronym back in the day before the highfalutin Frenchy-style Uefa took over.

    It was a game that sadly passed me by. I missed out on the whole 16-bit era and while the PC version that I eventually laid hands on was (I think) a perfectly acceptable iteration, the controls were not. It took me months to realise that playing it with a digital joystick was a waste of time. It really needed an analogue joystick and I wasn’t going to splash out on one of them for one game.

  4. Ben Damage says:

    Excited dreams of footballing majesty by 9 year old me.

    link to soundcloud.com

  5. leeder krenon says:

    once or twice.

    Best time was when we created a 128 team knockout tournament and played every game.

    Waitakere City 1 – 0 Inter Milan

    The result that shocked the world.

  6. thekelvingreen says:

    Best football game ever. In a parallel universe we’re all moaning about Sensible Software releasing annual iterations of Sensi with only minor upgrades, except we won’t be moaning because Sensi is brilliant.

  7. Shazbut says:

    I never played SWOS but I remember the reviews. One opened with the quote “And I shall give thanks unto thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” and then went on for five pages and ended with the highest score the magazine had given. It seems it was the Half Life of its day.

  8. PostieDoc says:

    Loved SWOS , played it to death but Kick Off 2 was (is) excellent too.
    KO2 had the added bonus of getting under Stuart Campbells skin, he just couldn’t accept that people actually liked the game.

  9. Cyda says:

    One of my all times fav games is SWOS. We used to get loads of beer in have leagues on a Friday night. Superb. ♫ You’re a goal scoring superstar hero ♫

  10. Spatvark says:

    The curious thing about Sensi was that I found the best control scheme to be using a joystick to pull off the crazy looping shots that were possible with the game’s aftertouch system. Pushing forwards, hitting the kick button and then yanking all the way back hard and a little bit to the side to score from behind the halfway line, or a big curving arc to loop into the far corner from near the touchline, the goals you could score were spectacular.

  11. somnolentsurfer says:

    I could also beat anyone at Sensi, if by ‘anyone’ you mean ‘my mum’.

  12. El_MUERkO says:

    I failed my leaving certificate (irish a-levels) because of SWOS.

    No regrets.

  13. HercMate says:

    I’m loving these Amiga retrospectives – they’re bringing back lots of memories. I was going to suggest Speedball 2 then realised you’ve already covered it. Alien Breed next?

  14. nitric22 says:

    Never played this fine looking retro game. But man just the mention of the first experience of mastery in gaming as a kid brings a flood of wonderful memories to the surface. We had a Genesis in home before a pc, and thus Sonic and Disney’s Aladdin/Lion King where the trifecta of credit rolls I first experienced. Then the PC entered our home, and I Moved into the 3D world of Battlezone and that masterful RTS/FPS combination. How magical those first 5-10 games were, and how resentful I am of the game count in my steam library today often only providing slivers of that youthful perfection.

  15. ItalianPodge says:

    Start in the lowest division and as soon as you can buy John Hartson, he couldn’t actually run but my could he shoot from anywhere.

    RIP Klas Ingesson, the ball stuck to his feet like no other (apart from Ariel Ortega, but I could only play with him as Argentina as the internet didn’t exist and I didn’t know which team he played for).

    FIFA and PES don’t come close in my opinion.

  16. Drib says:

    As an older brother I can confirm that all older brothers are better than their younger siblings.

  17. The Bitcher III says:

    I ended up not liking it as much as Sensi Soccer, mainly because no matter what else you did, as soon as you bought a couple of players, your club lost money hand over fist. Even if you took that club up 4 divisions, you’d be stuck with essentially the same squad.

    • thekelvingreen says:

      I think there was a bug in the first release that led to your team haemorrhaging money and all your players losing their skills. I know I found it demoralising too and went back to the 1992 version until the bug was fixed.

      • cheesyboy says:

        Losing skills wasn’t a bug – you were playing the players out of position.

        Pro tip: to maximise player value (and performance) you need to edit the formation so that you get a Tick (or, at least, not a Cross) with the ball in any area of the pitch (you could move the ball around in the formation screen, and set player positions for each).

        Takes a bit of time, but is totally worth it.

        • thekelvingreen says:

          No, no, this was the first Amiga release. You’ve got your 100K striker there with a big green tick next to his name, he can score six goals in every match, and his value will still plummet to 10K after a few games, for no apparent reason.

          It was definitely a bug because Sensible released a patch — on disk! — to fix it.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      I preferred the original Sensi because it required literally no knowledge of football beyond what’s completely unavoidable. It didn’t matter at all that Sensible XI were every bit as real to me as Arsenal. And I’ll always remember the line in the manual that said simply, ‘there is no offside’.