As the world’s most popular sport, football sees plenty of action from video game developers. Even some of the earliest arcade titles focused on the sport, including Atari Football from 1978. But today, it can be hard to figure out which football titles are worth a go.
After all, some perennial favourites don’t quite hold up to the test of time. For example, when looking at the best football video games of all time, many gamers would point back to Amiga’s 1994 release Sensible World of Soccer. SWOS hit it big with fans thanks to its advanced gameplay features and the number of real-life players.
Far ahead of its time, SWOS incorporated real-world elements like trading and managing… for a list of 27,000 players. It’s so popular that some diehards (and Amiga itself) keep tinkering with mods to update the game with live stats and leagues.
Though SWOS is a class in its own right, our list of top football video game spinoffs takes a more modern approach to football gaming—especially when it comes to graphics. Keep reading for five great options for Lincoln City fans who want to play a bit of digital football.
Rocket League (2015)
Rocket League is one of the world’s most popular football-inspired games. Globally, there are over 90 million registered players, with over 50,000 playing live at any given time, according to PlayerCounter. The game has become so popular that it’s now the subject of sportsbooks, which offer Rocket League betting on matches and outrights.
Many follow the Rocket League Championship Series, which brings together the world’s top players in a single league. Along with fans of football, it also appeals to racing fans, as the game is technically listed as an ‘automotive combat’ title.
New Star Soccer (2012)
For the most part, mobile games that focus on football do so from a management perspective. Developing functional gameplay mechanics for smartphones is hard. Still, the great minds behind New Star Soccer accomplished this feat back in 2012.
Instead of attempting to build out a full career mode, developers focused on creating engaging mini-games. And to touch on the interests many football gamers have in managing a team, New Star Soccer also incorporated elements of the football lifestyle… just not in a rote management way. For example, young football stars will need to learn to balance work life with the demands of their partner and their sponsors.
Top Eleven (2010)
This football management game brilliantly went where no other management-based title had gone before: social media. If you’re active on Facebook, then Top Eleven Football Manager is perfect for you. It lets players tinker with all the same features likeFootball Manager… just with robust social features so that they can connect with friends.
Mario Strikers Charged (2007)
Not too many people noticed this Wii product when it hit shelves back in 2007… but those who did never forgot about Nintendo’s absolutely insane take on football. The Super Mario spinoff takes players to imaginative pitches and lets them craft rosters with insane player talents.
With a familiar cast of Mario characters, from Toad to Waluigi, players have access to unique superpowers, which help them score highly improbable goals. This cult classic has stood the test of time well enough that Nintendo recently dropped a sequel, Mario Strikers: Battle League, for Switch earlier this year.
Retro Goal (2021)
Above, we mentioned that we’d prioritize modern games on this list—but that doesn’t mean gamers that love a retro feel don’t have options. Last year, New Star Games released the mobile game Retro Goal with these types of fans in mind. The idea is to recreate a modern football video game with 16-bit style graphics. From there, basic gameplay and management features offer a fully balanced and casual football gaming experience.