Times have changed since I were a lad. In't great days of Stanley Matthews and that there Jimmy Greaves thou could bite the opponent's leg off and still meet him in't bar afterwards for a pint and packet of porkie scratchings. (Stop lying. You're not that old! Ed) Ahem. Rumbled. Anyway, these days if you try and bite someone's leg off he'll probably turn round and go for your winkle or something (Blimey! Steady on! Ed). The point is, footie's getting like blooming Rollerball these days so it was only a matter of time for a game called Fighting Soccer to appear. In fact, I'm just shocked they didn't do one years ago!
So the big disappointment for me is that there's no actual fighting in here. What a rip off! To make up for it though, they've stuck in plenty of other weird stuff. How about teams like 'Britain' (whatever happened to 'England'?) and 'Japan' (!), or cheerleaders who perform anatomically dubious dances every time you win? How bizarre! Eventually, I sussed out that it's all meant to be the Olympics, not the World Cup (which explains 'Japan' etc) but, even so, Matt Busby would turn in his grave (except he's still alive).
But on to the details. Play is of the fairly traditional control-the-player-nearest-the-ball type, and viewed from above. There's a good unusual bit where you attempt to head the ball and the player rather alarmingly leaps right out of the screen (like the ball in Passing Shot). In fact, the players are fairly large, even when they're not going for it 'on the 'ed' which generally makes the game pretty dramatic to look at. All nicely done, though it's arguable that the pitch is a bit small - good news when you're attacking but a right old pain in the shin-pad when one moment you're being tackled on the half way line and the next you're picking the ball out of the net.
Still, control of the players is smooth. Tackling's very satisfying too, giving the impression of snatching the ball right off your opponents' toes.
However, the kicking feature is less well executed. There was no problem with punting the ball down-pitch Wimbledon-style but those oh-so-subtle tap-ins from inside the penalty area were a tadge more tricky (like impossible). In the end I was reduced to dribbling round the keeper and following the ball info the net.
There are some interesting options. As well as playing against the computer or another player it is also possible for two players to take on the computer, which could make for some neat passing games. However, true to form, attempts by the Your Sinclair All-Stars to use this option resulted in more confusion than control. One irritating feature is that the computer is a bit of a know-it-all show off. Pause to collect your thoughts and before you know where you are the blooming thing has taken control of your player! Oi! Hang on a minute! I want to play too!
Both goalkeepers come computer controlled, which is a great relief, though (and this may just be sour grapes) the opposition's goalie seemed a lot better than mine. Blooming cheating computer.
What else do I need to mention? Ah yes, the scoring. The way I see it, the way to win a game of football is to score more goals than the other side... call me old fashioned if you like. All fine and dandy except every time you score in Fighting Soccer the screen flashes up the message "Nice Shoot". Oops.
Still, I can live with grammatical errors (they're quite funny) but unfortunately there are a few footballing ones in here as well. I mean, what are all those people doing in the penalty area during a goal kick, for a start? And why are Brazil such a soft option as opponents? And why are Japan such tough opening opponents (when in 'real life' the entire country has probably two inflated pigskins between them!)? And isn't football supposed to be a game of two halves? Eh? Eh?
These aren't Activision's fault (they were present in the coin-op) so it's a bit unfair to carp, but there are enough of them to stop Fighting Soccer having any chance at becoming the definitive footie sim. In fact, as soccer games go (and there are loads about, as you might have noticed) this one falls into the 'a bit weird and not particularly precise but very playable all the same' category. I enjoyed it and kept on coming back for more, which is all you can really ask for (except for more opponents, fewer cheerleaders, better spelling...).
A short, sharp playing life, lots of fun but in the long term won't go down as a footie classic.
There's meant to be tackling in here, but I can't really see it. What I can see is a bloomin' great arrow pointing out which player I'm controlling. How handy.
Japan! They're blooming crap at football!! How come they're doing so well then? And how come they're fielding the Jolly Green Giant as a midfield ringer! This just isn't on! (Actually, that's someone jumping up to go for a header. Ed) Oh.