It is the early 1990s. Your author is perched on the edge of his bed in the wee small hours, trying in vain to score an equalising goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers to clinch the league title. One point will do, that's all. The nearest contender (I can't recall who it was, but thanks to Sensible Soccer's editing facility, it will have been a proper early 90s team with the players carefully named and numbered to reflect their contemporary real-life counterparts) cannot possibly catch my team if i draw or win, but Wolves - their season finished a few games ago, having settled for mid-table mediocrity - have scored an early goal, and I have the jitters.
When the game is over, palms have perspired profusely, there are pools of clear micro-blobs of sweat around the curved edges of the Megadrive pad, and I have not scored. The dirty Blades of Sheffield (that's Sheffield United to all you non-football fans. Hang on... if you're not a football fan, why are you reading this? Go read about Me and My Caramac or something...) Where were we? Oh yes, the only team that could have caught my beloved Town - the aforementioned dirty Blades of Sheffield - had won their last game, and I had missed out again. Sh*t! Another season of Sensible Soccer to go through. Hurrah! Another season of Sensible Soccer to go through!
Fast forward to 2006, and the hype and excitement that leads up to the release of Sensible Soccer 2006 is admittedly nowhere near that afforded this year's FIFA World Cup - either the real thing or the abomination that is Electronic Arts' video game effort - but the Sensi 2006 previews have been all over the 'Net and reports have been favourable.
Hopes, in certain quarters, have been high. Can SS2006 really be the return to form that's been promised since the name lost its way in the late 1990s? Well, the short answer is no. Whether it's the passage of time - 14 or 15 years is a long time in video games - or the mythical rose-tinted glasses, or maybe the fact that your author is a decade and a bit older and a little more fussy about his fussball games, it's with no little confusion and a heavy heart we have to report that SS2006 doesn't take long to reveal itself as a game that's sadly lacking in real replayability, most particularly in single-player mode. With no-one to play against, SS2006's appeal quickly pales. But I'm getting ahead of myself; in the search for a chink of light in the darkness, let's see what's on offer for the punter first, eh?
SS2006 has a lot of content: there are 50 preset competitions, with the option to have a tinker and create your own leagues, cups and tournaments, so no shortage of things to do there. Over 350 international and European domestic teams are available for selection from the outset, again with the chance to fiddle about and edit to your heart's content. You want Dagenham and Redbridge in there, mixing it with the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal? Edit that team, young man! Hair, boots, pitches and new kits can be unlocked in preset competitions too. It adds little if nothing to the overall gameplay, but every modern game has to have its unlockables, right? Right. Some are just more genuinely useful than others.