Much-loved football game Sensible Soccer is, thanks to Codemasters, making a welcome return this summer on PC, PS2 and Xbox in modern-day revamp Sensible Soccer 2006. Jon Hare, designer and producer on the original classic, has been heavily involved with the new title in a game design capacity, and we recently caught up with the industry veteran to chat about Sensi's big comeback.
So why Sensible Soccer and why now?
Jon Hare: It's pretty simple really. FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer have both been going for quite a while now and they've become too stuck in their own success. They can't really change too much, because people want them to stay the same. I think Pro Evolution in particular, which has been consistently the best game, has become too bogged down in trying to recreate realism. It's starting to lose its touch with the playability side. Plus, it's a bit slow. Now's the time for a football game that's fast, fun and not too serious.
Who are you targeting Sensible Soccer at?
Jon Hare: Everyone. A lot of people who used to play Sensible Soccer aren't necessarily into football games. Although people who do enjoy football games will like this too.
What made you go with the cel-shaded look?
Jon Hare: Just something to distinguish the game, really. We're trying to recreate a look that's in keeping with the original game, hence the small characters and big heads.
Have you taken any inspiration from FIFA and Pro Evolution at all?
Jon Hare: We've tried to take things from those games that work and then add them to the Sensible Soccer format. There are two shoot buttons, and the shots use power bars, so you've got powered shots plus Sensi's aftertouch.
So how big is the team database?
Jon Hare: In terms of club teams, we've got eight different countries (England, Scotland, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Holland) with two divisions in each, and about 22 teams per division, so you do the maths. Plus about 70 international teams.
And are you allowed to use the real names for the club sides?
Jon Hare: Well, let's just say they're carefully named club sides. As for the players, we use recognizable initials, then subtly swap round some of the letters.
We've noticed there aren't any pitch radars in the game. Any particular reason?
Jon Hare: We had them in early on in development, but the game is too fast for you to really need them. Plus the camera subtly zooms out when the ball is in the middle of the pitch, so you can see better where your team-mates are.
How do the formation settings work? Will budding Mourinhos be able to make sweeping tactical changes?
Jon Hare: There are a dozen base formations and 20 different player types - Hatchet Man, Playmaker, Poacher and so on. Each player type has its own underlying attributes - it's up to you to configure them to the best effect in the your team.
Why is there no Xbox Live component?
Jon Hare: We did initially consider putting the game on Live, but there isn't enough time to get it running online at the speed we want it to. You can have as many human players as you like involved in the tournaments, though.
And how many tournaments are there?
Jon Hare: The main game has about 45 competitions in all, each one having its own unique unlock when you win it. Plus there's the Career mode, where you can create your own custom team and try to win each competition in return for upgrades to your squad. It's like a football RPG!
Now you're updating Sensible Soccer, do you have any plans to remake any more classic Sensible games?
Jon Hare: Well, I'd love to do Cannon Fodder! That'd be nice. Codemasters?
This interview originally appeared in issue 55 of Official Xbox Magazine (UK).