Video games have a wide-reaching and varied fanbase that spans different genres and titles.
Not all video gamers will enjoy Dota 2, for instance, despite it being the most interesting eSports today. Likewise, hardened gamers might find the appeal of EA Sports’ behemoth title FIFA 22 limited. If you’re not a soccer fan, what could be worse than spending hours and hours playing soccer digitally? “Nothing at all!”
That doesn’t mean soccer games are not popular; they are. They play an important role in leading soccer fans to video games; buy the PlayStation 5 for FIFA, stay for Call of Duty, or Far Cry 6. It’s a middle ground between a global sport and video games.
Here in the US, soccer is some way down the list when it comes to sports games people pick up; you’re more likely to have a copy of Madden 22 or NHL 22 in your games library. That might be about to change. The US Men’s National Team is on the cusp of qualifying for the World Cup, soccer’s showpiece tournament, with 90 Minutes explaining how they recently picked up four crucial points.
The USMNT is already the joint-highest CONCACAF team likely to win the World Cup in the latest soccer odds from Coral, which means they’re expected to qualify for a chance to lift the Holy Grail of the soccer world for the first time since 2014. That is sure to fuel a passion for soccer in the country, and coupled with the rising success of Major League Soccer; you’re likely to pick up a soccer game to enjoy.
Whilst FIFA is the dominant title now, there have been plenty of World Cup-themed games over the years. If you want to relive one of those USMNT moments from soccer tournaments gone by, you might do well to revisit one of these three retro World Cup titles.
2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa – Xbox 360/PS3/Wii
The halcyon days of 2010 saw the USMNT qualify for the last 16 ahead of England in their group, so picking up a copy of the game from that year is certainly worth the effort. This is arguably the finest game of the generation and represents a key moment in gaming history. Pro Evolution Soccer had been the game of choice for many, but in 2010, fans were split. Along came this game, with its vibrant crowd, new and exciting camera angles, smooth gameplay, and a generation switched allegiances for good. PES never recovered; it became eFootball early this year in a disastrous launch.
World Cup France 98-Playstation/Nintendo 64
France 98 was not a good tournament for the USMNT – three games resulted in three defeats, including an embarrassing 2-1 humbling at the hands of Iran. Still, if you feel like reversing that slice of history, then the good news is this game is well worth visiting. The game is so very playable, and although it lacked features, it had a huge heart. The soundtrack is iconic; Chumbawumba’s ‘Tubthumping’ blasts out at every menu. There’s something prophetic about it; the USMNT might get knocked down, but they get up again; in 2002, they made the quarter-finals just four years later.
World Cup Italia ’90 – Sega Megadrive
We’re going way back into the annals of history here, back when soccer began to grow popular in the US. 1990 saw the USMNT qualify for the tournament for the first time in 40 years, and we’ve only missed one since. Back then, soccer exposure was minimal here, and the same can be said for this game. It’s stripped back, with few gaming options and featuring what is now a rudimentary and basic top-down view, but it is huge fun to play. Sometimes, games try too hard to be something they’re not, but this 16-bit classic did no such thing, and as a result, it is still hugely playable today.