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7 of the best Sega Mega Drive football games on it's 25th birthday

Sega Megadrive

With the console classic turning 25 today, we are running down seven of the best football games available and don't worry – FIFA features!

25 years in a long time in football. It's also a long time in computer games and with the Sega Mega Drive turning 25 this month, it's worth looking back at what used to constitute soccer gaming on the much-loved cartridge-based console.

With button bashing and “always score” positions replaced by realism and tactical nous in recent years, it's fair to say things have improved.

But that hasn't prevented us from cast an eye back at some absolute classics – here are seven of the best!

7. Striker

A ground-breaking game for developers Rage, Striker sold around a million copies across all consoles on it's release and helped establish the Liverpool based games firm.

Ground-breaking in that it was the first title to use a 3D viewpoint, Striker was also praised for it's speed. Unfortunately, little else has stood the test of time.

6. Fever Pitch

Developed by U.S. Gold, who garnered a reputation for their button-bashing Olympics titles on the Mega Drive, Fever Pitch remains something of a rare oddity for it's time.

A light-hearted football title, the game encouraged players to use “dirty” tactics and special abilities to dive in a bid to win free-kicks or penalties. It was an approach that didn't take off.

5. European Club Soccer

A best-seller during the first few months of it's release, European Club Soccer gave players the chance to compete in the Champions' Cup – essentially the Champions League in everything but name.

With some 170 European teams to choose from this Krisalis Software title was also notable for allowing formation changes, with each system carrying notable on-the-pitch benefits.

4. World Cup Italia '90

Enjoyable in it's simplicity, Italia '90 may have been a more basic soccer game than most but made up for it with straightforward gameplay and a neat World Cup mode.

Playing from a bird's eye view perspective, players could build attacks, complete crunching tackles and score team goals of genuine quality – even if the generic celebration screen was the same each time.

3. International Superstar Soccer Deluxe

Konami's precursor to the Pro Evolution Soccer titles, International Superstar Soccer Deluxe ranks among the best football games on the Mega Drive, thanks to it's excellent gameplay.

Featuring plenty of familiar faces from world football at the time, the ISS Deluxe is also notable for it's fantastic array of game modes and well-rendered graphics - for the Mega Drive.

2. FIFA '97

A controversial choice, given the near-reverential treatment metered out to FIFA '95, this edition some two years later gets the nod for the impressive array of features.

Featuring David Ginola on the cover, the game is also notable as the only FIFA title to offer players the chance to play games in a special six-a-side indoor area and a build-your-own-club mode.

1. Sensible Soccer International Edition

A strong contender for the best Mega Drive football sim, Sensible Soccer has benefited from opting for a more arcade-style game, meaning that despite it's dated graphics it is just as enjoyable today.

Notable also for including a World Cup option and, for the first time, an onscreen referee this is daft, basic but thoroughly enjoyable from first whistle to last.

Have we left any games out? Comment below...

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