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Legendary Eleven is a fun slice of arcade retro soccer

International tournaments and big hair

Legendary Eleven
Legendary Eleven
Eclipse Games

From the mega-afros and big perms to the teensy little shorts, Legendary Eleven takes its soccer style cues from the golden age of the 1970s.

This arcade-style sports game has been out on Windows PC and Nintendo Switch since the middle of last year. But this week, it arrived on Xbox One. I gave it a go, and enjoyed a brief transportation back to the time of Zico and Beckenbauer. But Legendary Eleven also offers a time warp to ’90s-style soccer games, with all that entails.

The low-cost Legendary Eleven is a reminder of a time before Electronic Arts’ FIFA leviathan (and its diminutive rival PES). It was an era when footie games were a dime a dozen. Most of those games were bad. I recall one that came with two half-time breaks. They could often be gamed in some tiresome way. I played the hell out of Sega’s World Cup Italia ’90 on Genesis, until I realized I could win every game with a carefully timed through pass from the center.

But Legendary Eleven is solid enough, offering basic, single-button controls. It’s mostly a game of passing, running, and shooting, with little in the way of tactical nous. But that’s fine by me. I can also pull together attractive moves for the replay camera, shimmying through the defense and cracking off a ludicrously show-offy overhead kick.

The AI chugs along with only the occasional derailing, in which the entire defense seems to drift toward the sidelines. But that’s rare. Teams are all international, with each sporting their own very basic stats, as do individual players, who go by vaguely familiar names. England includes Steve, Gary and Peter (in goal), giving the team a mid-’80s roster of first names, while avoiding any pesky licensing issues.

There are international tournaments to play, as well as friendlies and classic rematches from the past. I can also collect cards that boost my team, and individual players. Online play is also available, but I haven’t tried that.

Anyone schooled in the finer arts of EA Sports’ FIFA play may find Legendary Eleven a bit basic. But it isn’t trying to be FIFA. It’s more interested in the simplicity of arcade soccer, and in that regard, it’s a success.

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