Inspired by my discovery of the incredibly funny Bleep Bloop segment on College Humor, I wanted to go over some of my favorite soccer video game moments.
Some background first, I’ve played the FIFA Series pretty much non-stop since the first game, FIFA International Soccer, back in roughly 1994. In college, I also got hooked on SI Games’ Championship Manager series. Like many, I stopped playing CM after I realized that my odds of future procreation dropped measurably after each “season” I played.
Anyway, on with the fun…
Running away from the ref about to book you in FIFA International Soccer. Few things were funnier to fifth-grade me and my second-grade brother than the fluky little error in the first FIFA game that allowed you to, after a nasty foul, to run around the field for three minutes chased by the referee trying desperately to book you. Eventually the referee would give up, stop running, and issue a red card. It was so worth it.
The infamous dive button on FIFA RTWC 98. Easily, the most realistic feature ever to be included in a soccer game, pressing a two-button combo allowed your player to yelp and fall to the ground, occasionally drawing the referee into fouls and even penalties. I am not sure that any feature has caused my brother, my long-time FIFA nemesis, to go as apoplectic as when I’d run into the penalty area, run out of ideas, and just fall to turf as soon as one of his defenders got near me to draw a penalty.
Blocking punts in FIFA 97. First of all, this was about the only redeemable factor in what was an otherwise really bad year for the series. It was inexplicably really easy to to just stand in front of the punting goalkeeper and block the punt behind him, leading to an easy goal. This was another sure way to end up fighting with your opponent.
Real players in FIFA 1996. At the time, I am not entirely sure I noticed that the immortal fake players (remember Brian Plank and Bruce McMillian?) of the past two FIFAs were replaced with real players, but if I remember correctly, Matt Le Tessier and Marco Van Basten were unstoppable on this game.
The FIFA RTWC 98 intro. Still good to this day.
[ame=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCJ4RuBROcU”%5DYouTube – FIFA’98 (RTWC) Intro[/ame]
Introducing Andy Gray to an American audience. See, folks like Jack Bell thought that Americans first heard the dulcet tones of the bald Scotsman during Euro 2008, in fact, many younger folks had already been introduced to him through his constant cliche repetition on FIFA. Who amongst us doesn’t twitch when we hear, “this throw-in’s as good as a corner?” His pre-match flirting with John Motson was legendary, I remember them discussing a pre-match Sangria as the before everytime you played at the Nou Camp. I don’t think I even knew what Sangria was at the time.
The music. Over the years, the FIFA series has featured some legitimately good music including Blur, Fatboy Slim, Timo Maas and Moby. The less said about the Robbie Williams song, the better though.
You can’t stop Alexander Farnerud, you can only hope to contain him.
The players on CM who are great in the game but aren’t nearly as good in real life. Every CM player can think of them. Here are a few that immediately come to mind, Alexander Farnerud, Jhonnier Montano, Jonas Lunden, the great Anatoli Todorov… I even remember some of the guys that the game made up who starred for me on my great double Champions League-winning run with Celtic. No one could stop my young Italian strike pairing of Claudio Del Nevo and Marco Di Napoli.
Explaining CM to outsiders. “See it’s like a normal game, but you don’t get to see the players actually do anything. You just read what they’re doing in text form. But, believe me, you have no idea how cool this is.” And then of course later on you had to explain how, “yes they’re dots, but they’re tactical dots.”
So, those are just some of my favorite moments, especially from the earlier days of soccer gaming. What are yours?
Postscript: I do not want the comments to turn into another raging battle between FIFA people and Pro Evo “truthers.” I Feel free to talk about your Pro Evo moments if you want, but we’re not going to have a FIFA/Pro Evo debate here.