I must admit that I’m one of those people who’s absolutely obsessed with soccer (where I’m from, people refer to this noble sport as football.) Naturally, I’ve played both Pro Evolution Soccer and FIFA titles, but even when I prefer the former over the latter, I’m tired of playing realistic simulators. It gets to a point where you play so many simulators that you just want to kick the ball from the middle of the court and score a goal from there. There are times when you want to perform a special move in the penalty area and there are times when you simply don’t want to follow the rules of the sport you love so much. Luckily, we live in a world where both simulators like FIFA or PES coexist with titles such as Mario Sluggers. That’s why I decided to work on a list with some of the best arcade-style soccer games.
As a way of making things harder for myself, I omitted titles like FIFA, PES and all the Managers. Since this is a personal list, feel free to share ideas, comments or even your own list in the comments down below.
10. RedCard 20-03 (GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox)
RedCard follows some of the rules of soccer, but this game also allows you to tackle and punch other players without being punished. To a certain extent, this sounds like the best soccer game ever made. Sadly, RedCard fails in its execution and this title can’t decide if it wants to be a simulator or an arcade game. Nevertheless, anyone interested in its concept should definitely check it out.
9. Captain Tsubasa J: Get In The Tomorrow (PlayStation)
I remember watching Captain Tsubasa as a kid and being completely aware of how ridiculous it was. One the most memorable aspects about the series is that each character has a trademark shot. Naturally, Captain Tsubasa J: Get In The Tomorrow captures that utterly ridiculous quality of the anime. This Japan-exclusive action/cinematic soccer game was released in 1995 by Bandai. There are two modes: friendly match and a story mode. As you progress with the story, characters level up and learn new moves. Moves are extremely over-the-top and most of the times, you can shoot from the middle of the court and score goals, which makes this game highly recommendable to anyone willing to try something completely different, not to mention unrealistic.
8. Mega Man Soccer (SNES)
Mega Man Soccer is a traditional soccer game with some of the most popular modes you usually find in games of the genre (tournament, exhibition matches, leagues and so on and so forth) and has both single-player and a multiplayer options. Apart from featuring a handful of modes, each character has the ability of performing a unique type of shot and while this aspect of the game has been praised, the overall reception has been mediocre. Some of the game’s issues are related to slowdowns, repetitive AI and poor controls.
7. Sensible Soccer 2006 (Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox)
This is the first original game released in seven years and while most fans received it with open arms, many complained about its lack of innovative features and gameplay problems. Thankfully, Sensible Soccer 2006 is easy to pick and play, has great multiplayer options and lots of unlockable extras. It may not be the best entry in the series, but sensible soccer combines an arcade-style gameplay with some realistic features.
6. Disney Sports Soccer (Nintendo GameCube, Game Boy Advance)
Konami’s Disney Sports isn’t the best series of sports games, but the Soccer version stands out above the rest. Disney Sports Soccer combines a simulator style of play with a more arcade-style and the result is a really enjoyable soccer game. The game has standard modes for the genre, but one of the main draws is the possibility of playing with characters from Disney properties (such as Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and so on and so forth.) Controls are extremely simple and there are unlockable magic abilities. It may not look very good, but Disney Sports Soccer is still a solid arcade-style soccer game.
5. Nintendo World Cup (NES, Game Boy, Sharp X68000, PC-Engine, Turbo-Grafx CD, Mega Drive, Virtual Console)
Arguably, Nintendo World Cup was one of the first arcade-style soccer games ever created. The game follows the rules of soccer, but there are some interesting differences: each team has six players, you control one of them at a time, off-sides are non-existent and there’s no penalty for committing fouls. In addition, the games allows you to do super shots (in the form of bicycle kicks or diving headers) and slide tackles, two unrealistic moves that other arcade-style soccer titles later adapted. According to most articles I read, this game holds up remarkably well, but finding a physical copy will take you some time.
4. FIFA Street 4 (GameCube, PlayStation 2 , Xbox)
The FIFA Street series offers a nice change of pace when compared to its simulator brother. Instead of following complex rules, this lighthearted title focuses on performing as many tricks as you can. Furthermore, FIFA Street realistically depicts the culture behind freestyle soccer (a variation of soccer extremely popular in countries such as Brazil) in an engaging and fun way.
3. Mario Strikers Charged (Nintendo Wii)
To a certain extent, Mario Strikers Charged is remarkably similar to its predecessor, but a couple of additions make this sequel better. For starters, Mario Strikers Charged allows you to play online. Another characteristic elements from this game is the ability of performing mega strikes and skillshots, two moves that definitely contribute to the game’s hectic pace.
2. Sega Soccer Slam (PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube)
Think about every single rule you know about soccer. Now forget about those and you’re ready to play Sega Soccer Slam. In this game, everything that’s related to the sport either disappears or is exaggerated, so players can hit each other, there are no corners, throw-ins or penalties. And the result of such a ridiculous premise is nothing short of amazing.
1. Super Mario Strikers (GameCube)
As its name indicates, Super Mario Strikers is a soccer game that features characters and themes from the Mario franchise. There are items such as bananas or shells that hinder your opponents’ progress, there are no referees and hitting your opponent is encouraged. The game is extremely accessible, so you’ll find this game quite enjoyable even if you don’t follow soccer. Interestingly, some have described this is the most brutal Mario game ever made and others have described it as the “soccer version of Super Smash Bros.” Sing me up!
These are some of the titles that didn’t make the cut: Power Soccer, Freestyle Street Soccer, Shijō Saikyō League Serie A: Ace Striker and Virtua Striker.