For some reason, high speed was considered the ultimate goal for sports games for some time in the late 80s and early 90s. The one distinguishing feature of such football games is ball control: Different from most football games, Sensible Soccer will not 'trap' the ball on the active player's foot. This makes dribbling more or less impossible – the ball bounces away too easily when changing directions. On the other hand, Sensible Soccer makes passing easier than normal. You can't only shoot the ball in one of the usual eight directions. If one of your own players is available in the general direction you aimed the ball at, the game will semi-automatically adjust the direction accordingly.
This results in a style of play which now, 20 years later, is heralded as the ultimate tactic in the real-life game: Quick, short passing back and forth, as for example celebrated very successfully by the Spanish national team. Or, in gameplay term, this leads to an experience closer to pinball (with slightly movable paddles) rather than football.
Unlike Kick Off, Sensible Soccer does not allow the trap the ball even temporarily for the sake of somewhat controlled passing or shooting at the goal, though. Shooting is further complicated by the basically useful function of bending. To shoot, you press the fire button and then move the joystick into the direction you want to bend your shot to. However, if you tried triggering the shot in the wrong moment (i.e. when the ball was just bouncing away from your player), you won't shoot, but tackle – looking like a complete idiot while the ball bounces towards the keeper harmlessly (it takes ages for a player to get up again after a tackle). Or, even if you hit the ball, you might have yanked the joystick for bending purposes a heartbeat too early, sending the ball off into a completely wrong direction.
To really master this game, you will need a lot of practice. Unlike certain competitors, it is also relatively accessible, though. The basics are intuitive enough and the game encourages experimentation without planning. Even total beginners can get lucky and have one of their players running straight towards the keeper – a shot, slightly bent, and it's usually a goal. Almost all of the time is spent in front of either goal, so it's always action-packed and exciting, the matches are very fluid. Though, of course, most games will be lost at first.
It is not quite clear why (to this day) Sensible Soccer is considered such a landmark game. It is not particularly innovative; compared to previous, similar games, it simply tweaked a couple of things. The major one is said accessibility, which is certainly very important. However, this is still only skin-deep, because if you really want to succeed, better be prepared for a lot of practice sessions. In the end, all that matters is whether you like this kind of football game. If not, Sensible Soccer will not convert you.