Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Nintendo Table Soccer (テーブル サッカー, 1965)

Baseball has long been one of Japan's premiere sporting pastimes, for spectators as well as for participants. This is reflected in a number of baseball related toys and games that were released by Nintendo, including Baseball Board and the very successful batting practice Ultra Machine.

In the 1960s, soccer (football) also became popular in Japan. So it was almost inevitable that Nintendo would introduce some soccer based games.

Nintendo Table Soccer (1965)

The first soccer game Nintendo released is called Table Soccer. It was released in 1965 for the reasonable price of ¥400. This was followed in 1970 by Dynamic Soccer.

Table Soccer is a sports simulation game, simliar to the game of Subbuteo.

Given the game's name, it's no real surprise that Table Soccer is played on a table top.

Nintendo bought the rights to produce Table Soccer for the Japanese market from John Waddington, a well-known UK games company.

Nintendo only translated the game's name and instructions and left it otherwise unchanged.

The original Table Soccer by Waddington

The game includes a foldable cardboard soccer pitch, that measures around 48 by 75 centimeters.

The set furthermore contains two plastic goals and plastic figures representing the players of the two competing teams. As "ball" a small plastic disc is included.

A second version of Table Soccer exist which is different to the first release in a number areas, although the game play remained unchanged.

Nintendo Table Soccer - version 2 (late 1960s)

The box art of this version is partially redesigned and all references to the Waddington copyright and license are removed. The photo on the front remained the same, though.

The price was increased to ¥600. Although this version does not bear a date, it was likely released a few years after the first version, around 1968 or so.

The game contents of this version are also different: the playing pitch was changed from cardboard to a plastic sheet, and the playing figures and goals are presented in a plastic tray.

An instruction booklet replaces the instructions printed on the inside of the box.

Table Soccer is played by two players, who each control one of the teams.

The objective of the game (obviously) is to score as many goals as possible. Players take turns "shooting" the disc-shaped ball by pressing a player figure down onto the edge of it, in a manner that is very similar to the game Tiddlywinks.

left is good - right is not good

As long as the ball ends near a figure of the same color, this player may continue his march towards the opponents goal.

Quite some luck is involved in Table Soccer, as it is hard to control the direction and distance the ball will traverse. Subbuteo is a more subtle and skill based, in that respect.

[The post about Nintendo's other soccer game, Dynamic Soccer, can be found here.]


  1. Thank you for this article. The game looks like Subbuteo meets Tiddlywinks and sounds like fun. What an inventive toy company was Nintendo, much like Marx in America.

    1. Hi Jeff. That's a good point about mixing Tiddlywinks with Subbuteo. I will add that to the post. Thanks.

  2. Hallow. My name is Osamu Ishihara living in Yokosuka city, Japan. I am deeply moved. When I was ten years old, I was playing with the second version. It was around 1971.
    At that time, Japan won a bronze medal at the Mexican Olympic soccer competition, so the first soccer boom in Japan occurred. However, at that time, in Japan this game seems not to be popular. Because at the same time, the Epoch Company sold soccer game with speedy deployment. It seems that epoch soccer game was more interesting for children.
    Of course, I played with the Nintendo table soccor game very well.
    I do not have table soccor game any more, but I remembered table soccor game 11 years ago from now and searched the internet for selling it somewhere. But in Japan, no article about table soccor game was found and I was giving up. Today after eleven years have passed since then, I tried putting in keywords in English and eventually I met you and Nintendo table soccor game.
    Thank you for letting me meet the old memories I have long been longing for!
    Please cherish the table football game of Nintendo forever.

  3. I am deeply mooved for this article. I'm living in Yokosuka city, Japan. When I was 10 years old, I was so into Nintendo table soccor game second version. It was around 1971. I was looking for articles of Nintendo table soccor since long ago and eventually I could meet you and Nintendo table soccor game. Thank you for letting me meet my old memories I have long been longing for. Please cherish the Nintendo table soccor game forever.

  4. Now how can I purchase this game (not Ebay)