Publisher: Psyonix Studios / Developer: Psyonix Studios
Release Date: 14th Nov 2017 (USA) / 14th Nov 2017 (UK/EU)
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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Publisher: SNK / Developer: SNK
Release Date: 14th Feb 1992 (USA) / 22nd Nov 2017 (UK/EU)
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
Release Date: 14th Dec 2020 (USA) / 14th Dec 2020 (UK/EU)
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.
The follow-up Football Manager 2022 Touch is also available on Switch.
Publisher: Bandai Namco / Developer: Tamsoft
Release Date: 28th Aug 2020 (USA) / 28th Aug 2020 (UK/EU)
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
Release Date: 31st Jan 2019 (USA) / 31st Jan 2019 (UK/EU)
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
Release Date: 18th Jun 2020 (USA) / 18th Jun 2020 (UK/EU)
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.
Publisher: Electronic Arts / Developer: Electronic Arts
Release Date: 28th Sep 2018 (USA) / 28th Sep 2018 (UK/EU)
FIFA on Switch is an odd one. If you’ve never played a modern FIFA game and picked up any of the Switch entries, you’d likely think it’s a fine game. You wouldn’t be wrong — the base footy experience here is very solid and enjoyable — but veterans of the series will find it hard to overlook the cut corners and caveats of the ‘Legacy’ Switch versions. These games are missing key modes from their counterparts on PS4 / PS5 and Xbox One / Xbox Series X|S, so if you’re FIFA enthusiast with access to those, it’s hard to recommend these versions.
If you’re not comparing like-for-like, however, and you’re just looking for a decent kickaround on Switch, FIFA 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23 [breathe] deliver a decent game, although the latter three literally updated the kits and player rosters for their respective years and nothing else. Frankly, we’ve lost patience with EA’s cynical attitude to Switch-owning series fans, so we’d hunt down a secondhand copy of 19.