The 23 best football video games ever made: Sensi, FIFA, Virtua, PES and more

Championship Manager 01/02
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13. Virtua Striker (1994)

Long pass. Short pass. Shoot. Tackle. Granted, in-match control options in this arcade favourite were limited, but its ground-breaking 3D graphics kept you thrusting 20p pieces at its innards anyway. Eighteen international teams featured, and we’ll pay actual money to anyone who can prove they ever won a match as Saudi Arabia.

12. Multi-Player Soccer Manager (1991)

Amstrad, Spectrum and C64’s best management emulator, and not only because up to four mates could take it in turns to play. Squad-wrecking injuries, players turning down unsuitable moves and proper in-season stat tracking were lifelike touches that kept it afloat amid the late-‘80s/early-‘90s flood of tracksuit sims.

11. Actua Soccer (1995)

Mentioned in the same breath as FIFA and PES back in the PS1 days, thanks to the first 3D match engine on console. Actua was also before its time in that it used real players for motion capture: Chris Woods, Graham Hyde and Andy Sinton were drafted in for this exercise, with developer Gremlin based just down the road from Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough HQ.

10. Kick Off 2 (1990)

The high point of Dino Dini’s revered series, which paved the way for Sensible Soccer with its top-down perspective and ingenious design decision to treat ball and player as separate entities. Still so beloved by those who possessed an Amiga that a virtual World Cup is played on it annually.

9. Football Manager (1982)

No relation to Sports Interactive’s identically monikered colossus, but a major influence upon its creation – Kevin Toms’ Spectrum classic represents the birth of the management game. It’s best remembered for the matchday highlights engine. Stick men played out every goal, miss and save in a manner which looks crude now, but at the time was considered just like Match Of The Day. Truly a simpler, yet some might argue happier, time.