Recalling the originality of Super Soccer on the SNES 0

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This is going to be some pretty fierce geekery, so it might not be for everyone…

The early 1990s were a glorious time in football video game history.  Sensible Soccer was busy making a mark on a generation of gamers which has lasted to the present day, International Superstar Soccer was the first incarnation of what would eventually become Pro Evolution Soccer, and Striker, the odd-but-fun Fever Pitch, FIFA International Soccer, and many, many others were all products of a thriving mini-industry.

A game that never gets mentioned is Super Soccer.  That’s understandable, given that it was - in spite of a couple of sequels - a fairly short-lived title, but it’s also a shame as it contained two of the more imaginative features that have ever appeared in football games.

Before console came equipped with vast banks of memory, a lot of games used complex codes to enable their ‘save game’ facilities.  Typically, these would involve a lot of numbers, letters and random pieces of punctuation and they would not only have to be noted in precise detail, but they would take an age to input.

That’s why, surrounding any console between 1990 and 1995, you would invariably find dozens of pieces of paper, each with their own little hieroglyphics.

In Super Soccer, to retrieve his or her progress, a user would have to properly sequence a series of arrows - each pointing in one of eight different directions - before clicking ‘start’.

Here’s the novelty, though: the success or failure of the code was revealed by a penalty being taken.  If a mistake had been made, the goalkeeper would save it and you would have to try again, but, if correct, your proxy forward would find the net and on with your saved game you would go.

It’s such a silly thing to remember, but I don’t remember seeing it before Super Soccer and memory cards and today’s equivalent have ensured that it’s never been needed since.

That wasn’t all, though….

These were the days before multiple modes and online play, so football games only ever really came with the option to play a friendly - against the computer or a friend - or compete in a mock-up World Cup on one or more difficulty settings

Super Soccer was no different, but it came with an almighty twist.  Progress through the tournament and win the final and you would see a fairly generic closing montage - your players up on a podium, the trophy being passed around, crude fireworks going off…but then…this:

The referee would go rogue!

Once games were completed in those days, you would generally just be taken to a scrolling list of credits before returning to the start screen, but Super Soccer didn’t end with a final - instead, you would be forced to play the referee’s band of mercenaries to get your trophy back.

Maybe today, with the multitude of options and endless focus on realism, something like that would be sneered at by the youngsters, but back then it was kind of charming in an absurd way and refreshingly novel.

Fun times - well done, Super Soccer.

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