A week is a long time in football; a few years are an eternity. The same could be said about video games. Cast your mind back to the last century; 1996 to be precise. Football was supposed to be coming home (until Gareth Southgate made a dog's dinner of things), El Tel was the gaffer, Barry Venison was still highlighting his mullet, and tapping players was something you only really associated with those of the pixellated variety. Which bring us rather nicely on to video games.
Because back in 1996 the sports sim that everyone was going bonkers over was Fifa '96 on the Mega Drive. This fast and furious game was one of the first footie sims that really captured the excitement of the beautiful game and you didn't need Mourinho-like tactical skills to score a hat-trick. Perhaps that's why boffins have decided to shoehorn this ludicrously entertaining classic into a pair of plug 'n' play joypads.
As its name suggests, the EA Sports Classics Plug 'n' Play simply plugs into any telly with standard A/V ports. All you need to do is pop in the batteries (4 AA - 1 Player or 8 AA - 2 Player). It's easier than predicting the outcome of an England V Germany penalty shoot out, and the game itself is just as exciting as you remember. The graphics might not be up to today's gobsmacking standards but Fifa '96 is a pleasure to play and it features 1-2 passing, fast dribble, volleys, dummies, fakes and nutmegs.
But wait, there's more: in all this football-related excitement we almost forgot to tell you that the EA Sports Classics Plug 'n' Play is also loaded with NHL '95, one of the best sports games ever. This superb ice hockey sim is buttock-clenchingly thrilling and features power-plays, punch-ups and all manner of puck-related shenanigans. It really is the Stanley Cup of ice hockey games and you'll be hooked the minute your players hit the rink.
The sturdy joypad or joypads (depending on if you opt for the 1 player or 2 player version) feel reassuringly Mega Drive-like and built-in memory saves stats and seasons so you can work your way to glory without having to sit in front of the gogglebox for six months solid. And although both games are brilliant for a bit of pick-up and play post-pub entertainment, they also possess the depth and playability to keep you gripped for hours on end with the 2 player version meaning you can give your best mate a faceful of football pie followed by a right good icing. As that Brazilian commentator might say, 'Goaaaaal!!'
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