Image: Psyonix, Flickr

30 years of hurt, never stopped me gaming

Football is coming home apparently. At least that’s what I hear from almost any person on the street who is either inebriated or just come from watching England win against whatever country they just played. But for many like myself, watching the football leaves us feeling like Moss from the IT Crowd. The euphoria of ‘Football coming home’ is very much lost on us, leaving a feeling of loss akin to trying to follow an England match in the first place. But don’t you fret my football-phobic friends; I have assembled the very best selection of football games (that aren’t bloody FIFA) to allow you to revel in the joy of bringing football home for your prospective team. So, sit back, relax and get ready to scream ‘goal’, ‘offside’, ‘penalty’ and ‘referee’ at your screen, because I’m pretty sure those words will be relevant at some point.

Image: Next Level Games, IGDB

Starting off with possibly one of my favourite Mario games, Strikers Charged Football (SCF). SCF puts you in control as you lead a five-a-side football team in a series of three tournaments to win the coveted Strikers Cup. Since this is a Mario game, the regular assortment of side characters, such as Koopa, Toad and Dry Bones to name a few, become your reliable teammates along with the plethora of coloured shells, mushrooms and invincibility stars all of which can be used on yourself or your opponent to create the perfect scoring opportunity. For the captains they each not only have a unique ability to change the tide of the game but all of them can also perform a ‘Megastrike’ which channels their power into somehow dividing the football into six identical footballs which are then shot simultaneously at the goalkeeper. Not only that but your sidekicks also have skill shots of their own; there is nothing more satisfying than Shy Guy riding a Bullet Bill into the goal, leaving the goal open to score, while the rest of the enemy team is picking shrapnel out their body.

Although VAR has been a controversial inclusion in this World Cup, I can safely vouch that the continuation of the ban on players with superpowers by FIFA, was a decision welcomed by all.

Continuing with the trend of weird superpowers in football matches, Inazuma Eleven, a DS game based on the anime of the same name, follows the down and out Raimon High School’s football team and its enigmatic coach and goalkeeper Mark Evans. (or Endou Mamoru for you nerds out there). Like most J-RPG’s, it follows the formula of being one half story-driven high school life simulator, in which various trials surrounding the upcoming football matches occur, and the other half being the actual football match where you control the players and tell them when to use their abilities. However, one point which is neglected to be explained throughout all three of the games is why the hell do these Japanese high school kids have superpowers when it comes to playing football!  Seriously, one of the first moves you learn is the ability to channel the spirit of Diego Maradona in a move called God Hand which forms a spectral hand to block the ball. At the other end of the pitch, your ace player can jump about 10 meters in the air while spinning and kick the ball causing it to catch fire and head straight towards the soon-to-be-doomed goalkeeper. Although VAR has been a controversial inclusion in this World Cup, I can safely vouch that the continuation of the ban on players with superpowers by FIFA, was a decision welcomed by all.

Image: Sports Interactive, Flickr

Moving away from the out of this universe unrealistic to the hyper-realistic football experience is the Football Manager series. Football Manager sees you taking control of a complex simulator, which tries to replicate every aspect of being the coach. From the impressive scope of the scouting and player transfer systems that allow you direct control over the clauses of the three-year indentured servitude contract of your newest player, to the tactics and team dynamic system of your composition, with more numbers than your 1-1-2-3-1-2 formation which for some reason is losing you 90% of your matches. The only thing this game lacks is a direct form of control over the football matches themselves; for those who would much prefer the numbers game over the football game, Football Manager is the game for you. Although many might be overwhelmed by the game’s tremendous level of detail, perseverance can lead to a rich and satisfying experience, with this football manager simulator.

After a few hours of you playing this with family members or friends there will be more anarchy in the house than in any pub on game day

Finally, how could I not talk about the smash hit Rocket League? A game that improves the genre by replacing the players with rocket-powered, radio-controlled, trucks. If radio-controlled trucks aren’t your style due to their lack of weaponry, then I would recommend the new World of Tanks game mode (which is essentially the same game but with tanks). Nonetheless, Psyonix’s Rocket League is easy and fun to pick up and play, especially with a group of friends, and accessible on almost any platform. Combine this with the massive customization options available for your truck and the regular updates with new maps and game types, Rocket League is a must play. I can guarantee that after a few hours of you playing this with family members or friends there will be more anarchy in the house than in any pub on game day when football finally comes home, and thanks to this guide you can celebrate football coming home in your own, significantly less sporty, style.

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