Erm… well, this doesn’t usually happen! As if holding the 2020 European Championships in 2021 wasn’t a melon-twister, to the surprise of English fans (not to mention the irritation of the rest of the UK) Gareth Southgate’s England team are in the final of a major international tournament. First time since 1966! Some in our team would be tempted to make a comment on the return of the sport to its motherland, but as this humble scribe is Welsh he’d rather dip his head into a bucket of tarantulas.
Yes, it’s certainly been a bit weird of late. You know what’s also a bit weird? Being a football / soccer fan that owns a Switch. Nintendo’s system somehow misses out on the ‘Premier’ games while getting bombarded with loads of smaller releases, and it can be hard to know which ones are worth a kickaround.
We haven’t reviewed every football game on the Switch, so let’s be upfront and say that some will be missing on this list that may be worth checking out. However, we’ve reviewed enough of them to share a winning 11 of the better ones here — oh yes, how very clever of us — and there’s plenty of variety to be found. It you want simulation, tactics, comedy or arcade action, there’ll be something here for you.
Below we’ve picked out — in no particular order — the best football games we’ve played on Switch. Grab your jumpers, set out your goals and enjoy!
Publisher: Psyonix Studios / Developer: Psyonix Studios
Let’s get this one out there first, just so pedantic arguments can be had out right away. No, Rocket League isn’t technically football — cars don’t have feet. But it is fantastic, has a very solid port on Switch, and involves working as part of a team to put the ball in the opposition’s goal. Sounds very much like football, with the main difference being you’re in turbo-charged cars.
Not only does it run pretty well on Switch, but online play is fully cross-platform, you are guaranteed to find matches (casual or ranked), and all of the regular content updates are found here. It’s a complete version of one of the world’s most popular games, which is nice to have.
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The Neo Geo had a number of football games, and a couple of them are on the eShop. They have awesome sound design in this writer’s opinion, though of course you should expect basic ‘arcadey’ action.
Soccer Brawl has some similarities to Super Sidekicks, for example, except the players are wearing body armour and there are practically no rules; it’s silly and brash and as a result can be a lot of fun in short bursts. Rebound shots off walls, foul with impunity – it’s just like the old days playing 5-a-sides at school.
Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Sports Interactive
Football Manager is responsible for many lost jobs, flunked degrees and failed relationships; never has a glorified spreadsheet been so enthralling and addictive. There are probably therapy groups for those that have sunk thousands of hours into the series, carefully crafting mighty squads to take Newport County AFC to Champion’s League glory.
The Switch versions of the tactical sim series are based on the ‘Touch’ titles initially released for phones and tablets. Some actually prefer this semi-skimmed version of the series, as it strips away a little of the complexity of the full-fat main games. It’s still detailed enough while arguably taking the series closer to the simpler times of the ‘Championship Manager’ days, and is a great way to pass time on the Switch.
Publisher: Bandai Namco / Developer: Tamsoft
This series is rather popular in Japan, spanning all sorts of media and games for decades; in the West? Not so much. That’s why it was a pleasant surprise to get Captain Tsubasa: Rise Of New Champions last year, and it’s actually a very solid game while being a pretty unique take on the sport.
You can play through a couple of story segments, and there’s Vs CPU and online play after that – though getting online games may prove tricky. It’s a wacky take on football, with all sorts of dodges, combos and stamina bars to pay attention to; this isn’t the typical game of Soccer. It looks terrific, and offers an entertaining time with a completely over-the-top take on the sport.
Publisher: FiveAcesPublishing / Developer: New Star Games
You may be thinking ‘Football Manager is on the list, that’ll do for sim games’, but it’s not quite that simple. Not everyone wants to delve into complex management, for one thing, and New Star Manager — despite its mobile origins — goes for a slightly different approach.
For one thing, team selection and strategy feels more like a card-based strategy game, while your club’s infrastructure work can feel more like a simple building sim. Once you get into matches you actually play attacking highlights, putting the game in your hands rather than just passively watching. It’s a bit low-fi, but does enough unique things in its approach to keep us interested.
Publisher: Ant Workshop / Developer: Size Five Games
This is a fun entry in the list, as it was made by critically acclaimed game maker Dan Marshall who happily admits to knowing nothing about football. So this is ultimately a comedic outsider’s take on the beautiful game, and it’s rather good.
Behold the Kickmen costs less than a cup of coffee and leans heavily on humorous writing and absurdist takes on the rules — the pitch is round, the ball can bounce off the sides, scoring gets you a ‘big sloppy kiss’ from the referee who is called the ‘Umpire’, and much more madness besides. As an inexpensive and silly time it is definitely worth a look on Switch.