Way back in the '90s there was a pretty decent football game called Fever Pitch (renamed Head-On Soccer in America) where the idea was essentially footie with special moves. So, all the players could play normally but Peter 'Cheesy Keeps' Stilton was a goalkeeper who'd keep out anything barring a comet, while there was a striker whose special move was to dive and win cheap free kicks. Sport with superpowers is an interesting concept and when games pull it off, like NBA Jam, it can result in greatness.
Fever Pitch sprang to mind this morning as I tried to puzzle out a somewhat confusing announcement from EA about the upcoming FIFA 23, the last game under the current license before the series relaunches as EA Sports FC. EA has collaborated with Marvel in order to bring some superhero flavour into the game's enormously popular FIFA Ultimate Team mode, which already includes footballing 'heroes', though the actual implementation remains a little fuzzy.
What it seems to boil down to is that there is going to be a lot of slightly odd art featuring great footballers reimagined as superheroes in the Marvel style, such as America's own Landon Donovan.
If The Brave just makes you think of The Deep, you're not alone (and if it doesn't then watch The Boys, it's great).
The publisher's announcement says the intention is to "celebrate [the players'] larger-than-life cult hero status alongside the amazing artists at Marvel. Recognising their memorable careers for club and country, each FIFA World Cup FUT Hero will receive a special illustrated FUT item at the launch of the World Cup game mode, with base versions of FUT Heroes being available at launch of FIFA 23."
Other footballers receiving the treatment include Claudio Marchisio, Yaya Toure, Park Ji-Sung, and Ricardo Carvalho, whose reincarnation as The Anticipator has to be one of the funniest of the lot.
As well as the mock-ups, the collaboration will include other items Marvelled-up including tifos, kits, balls, and other cosmetics. The collab naturally comes with a Marvel Heroes comic book featuring Marvel-written bios for each player, which will have a limited physical run.
The Marvel crossover will be in FIFA 23 at launch, with certain elements rolling out over time. It doesn't seem like the most obvious crossover but I suppose the mythologising of football greats has always been a part of the game, and it's a short step from that to hero status and statues outside grounds. Now, if they put them in the main game and added some special moves, I might be a little more interested…
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Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."