The greatest football game of all time – Sensible World of Soccer 96/97 – is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and to celebrate, a group of dedicated fans has painfully edited the engine to produce a 2016 update. The kits may have changed, and promotions and relegations accounted for, but at its core, the new version of SWOS retains all of the charm of the original, from the opening strains of ‘Goal Scoring Superstar Hero’ (the intro song) through to being welcomed to your club by a suitably moustachioed, northern accented Chairman, and the ultimate glory of seeing your computer generated players lift the cup in the changing room.
In the original Sensible Soccer, first released in 1993 you could play club or international teams, and then take part in cups, leagues or friendlies. SWOS upped the ante, adding a career mode to the equation for those who wanted to manage their team. Whilst it is nothing complicated, it offered a graphical representation of your team in action a decade before Championship Manager/Football Manager belatedly enhanced their database, though it lacks the press, agent, and fan interaction of the latter.
As much as loyal players had previously enjoyed the journey of transforming the fortunes of, say, an also-ran Dutch Second Division team, and taking them all the way to a Champions League Final against George Weah, Paolo Maldini, and the rest of the AC Milan super team of the mid-1990s, the folk at sensiblesoccer.de felt that they wanted to face up against Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and they’ve done a fine job. The graphics can’t compare with FIFA, but they have a unique pixelated charm.