I can’t remember much of 1991, let alone how football videogames looked and played in that year. Fortunately, with World Soccer Strikers ’91, I don’t need to worry anymore. This tongue-in-cheek name is a prod to annual sports franchises naming conventions, but here it is also a clue as to the retro stylings it presents.
World Soccer Strikers ’91 has no licensed teams, no Ultimate Team variation, no avatar creator or any additional modes. And yet, it feels vastly different from many other football titles due to one key difference. The developers at Bipolar Dawn call it “magnetic feet”. That is, the ball sticking to your player as they dribble along the pitch. It’s something I’d taken completely for granted until playing World Soccer Striker ’91.
In fact, rarely anything ‘automatic’ happens. You can pass, shoot, tackle and dribble – to an extent – but whereas your standard pass would always head towards a teammate (it may not necessarily be the one you were hoping to pass to but that’s FIFA for you), in World Soccer Strikers ‘91 it will only ever go in the direction you are facing. If you come from any of the bigger football titles, this can take some getting used to.
The pitches you play on are good size for 5-a-side, and that also means the ball cannot go out for a corner or throw-in. However, this does result in the ball frequently being stuck down one end of the pitch; characters will chase the ball like a group of seven year olds and it regularly gets stuck in the corner as it ping pongs off of the players.
And the ball may not stick to the players’ magnetic feet, but it is amazing how many times it will hit the woodwork.
After a non-skippable opening match, you have a variety of options to play. Single match is there for those that need a quick fix, but there are also league and tournament formats. A league will have you and nine others compete for the top. There aren’t any home and away fixtures, as you only play each team once. Then, the tournament is a bracket of sixteen teams who play in knockout competition.
There is also the inclusion of the Golden Goal which is exactly that; the first team to score wins the match. This means it could all be over in a matter of seconds or could take hours. It is a shame Golden Goal isn’t really a thing anymore in actual football, but you can relive its glory days here.
Every match can be played with up to eight players locally to increase the intensity, and likely the number of players chasing after the ball. By default though, matches take no more than 90 seconds to complete, meaning you can get plenty of matches in for your next game night. The fun may wear thin after several matches however, but for the price of £4.19 you can’t complain.
The humour may elongate your enjoyment of World Soccer Strikers ’91. Team names such as Expected Toulouse, Golden State Grahams and Kindof Athletic offer some chuckles, along with advertising boards referencing things like The Office and Pulp Fiction.
Of course, there is another reason people may be interested in World Soccer Strikers ’91 and that is the promise of easy achievements. There are 21 in total and while they shouldn’t take too long to unlock, they are a bit glitchy. During my time with the game there were plenty that should have unlocked but didn’t, so a word of caution to the achievement hunters out there.
The spirit of 1991 is indeed alive in World Soccer Strikers ’91 on Xbox; a time where football wasn’t about the money, instead more about the actual football. It is a no frills approach to the beautiful game with a fast, simple arcade kickabout. It’s fun for a few sessions with friends, and that’s about it.
Relive football before the Premier League in World Soccer Strikers ’91 on Xbox for £4.19