Ever since the earliest games consoles arrived in people’s homes, football games have been something of a passion in the United Kingdom.
As early as 1982, you could take charge of Manchester United on Kevin Toms’ Football Manager, and ever since, different games have put you in control of your heroes. It might be the on-field action you crave, the cut and thrust of the boardroom, or even any number of other football-themed games that spin-off from the central concept.
Not all of those titles feature Man Utd; some don’t even feature too much football. Cristiano Ronaldo might just have returned home after all these years, and if you want to control him in a video game, you might turn to Cristiano Ronaldo Kick ‘n’ Run, a game as loosely based on football as you’ll find. If you are an online slot fan, there’s Top Trumps Football Stars brought to you by Gala Bingo, another popular football video game theme.
If you are on iOS or Android, Flick Kick Football is another example of a football-themed game using mechanics we’ve seen elsewhere: it’s not unlike Angry Birds, using the flick mechanism many games employ on mobile devices. Whether spinning slots, scoring goals or running through the street of Europe collecting coins, football features heavily in video games. Today, you can get as much enjoyment from football on your mobile device as your home computer, but it wasn’t always the case.
Whilst Man Utd are often a playable team in those video games, very few bear their name on the cover. And even fewer might feature the badge in the coming years. Euro Gamer explains how United are suing Sega for using their imagery in the latest Football Manager release.
Before long, you might find it tough to enjoy managing United or playing as them on video games. If that happens, fear not, as you can always turn to these licensed vintage Man Utd titles.
Manchester United Europe (1991)
Following English club’s being permitted back into Europe, developers Krisalis worked on a title celebrating United’s Cup Winner’s Cup success. With Les Sealey on the cover, Manchester United Europe dropped on a range of home computers, including Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari Lynx, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and Spectrum.
It was a follow-up game to the eponymous Manchester United of the previous year, and it scored highly with several reviewers of the time.
Manchester United Championship Soccer (1995)
Four years later, Krisalis were back on the case developing a United game, this time only on the Super Nintendo. The constraint of playing as United does not bind you, and it was perhaps popular branding used to shift an average game.
It used the perspective featured by the first FIFA but graphically bore a resemblance to Sensible Soccer. There was no official license for other clubs though, so names were not-so-subtly altered.
Manchester United: Club Football (2005)
Ten years later, and games licensed to specific clubs were becoming rare due to the costs involved in doing so. One of the last series to do so came from Codemasters, the ‘club football’ series. Man Utd got three instalments of the game, the first dropping in 2005.
Graphically, it looks a lot like the Pro Evo games of the day, but the appeal was restricted to the club’s fans. However, the presentation was very neat, and the game moved well, plus copies are worth a bit of money today. The developers made specific games for 22 clubs, including Celtic, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and, bizarrely, Leeds!