This football strategy/simulation began life as a design for a traditional boardgame offered to GREMLIN some while ago. Now it appears as a computer- only entertainment. You are sweet seventeen and want to be a top footballer. At the start of your career you have £5,000 in cash, 10 'goal cards' and a pair of reasonably talented feet. Your ultimate aim is to become Footballer Of The Year and attend the prestigious award ceremony.
The first decision you make is which Division to play in - there are five skill levels available, represented by the four English Divisions and an international Super League. Goal cards are more expensive in the higher Divisions, and as they are traded for shots at goal, the number of goal cards you can afford has a bearing on your performance as a player.
The game is icon-driven from the main control menu. Accessing the globe icon reveals the performance of the team that is paying your wages - the number of goals scored, the team's morale and progress in the various competitions are revealed. The footballer icon leads to the report on the player's personal achievements: status points, the league played in and weekly earnings are shown on bar charts. A general rating is also given which summarises the footballer's overall skill level. An icon in the form of a scroll enables the player to attempt to gain a transfer, but it costs money to attract the attention of a scout - and a transfer request isn't always successful. Prices range from just £2.000 to £10,000 a go. A question mark icon conceals 'Incident Cards ' , which cost £200 a time and operate rather like 'Chance ' cards in a game of Monopoly - money can be won or lost, transfers obtained and extra goal cards collected by buying a bit of luck (which isn't always good).
If things are going very badly, and the proverbial parrot looks so unwell that recovery is unlikely, the game can be abandoned by selecting the 'injured player' icon. There's also the facility to save a game to tape, via the tape icon, if building a career looks likely to span several long sessions.
The icon in the centre of the control screen - a football boot - leads to the football pitch. Selecting it reveals the player's financial reserves and offers the chance to buy further Goal Cards. The computer chooses the match to be played, and decides the number of shots at goal which the star will get if a Goal Card is cashed in - one, two or three shots are allowed and part of the strategy of the game lies in using the available Goal Cards to best effect.
A mini arcade sequence follows in which the player gets to shoot at the goalmouth after positioning the ball. Sometimes a couple of defenders romp towards the ball, and if a shot isn't taken before they tackle the opportunity is lost. The goalie does his best to save each shot, and once the attempts at goal are over the match ends and a teleprinter types up the result before control returns to the main icon screen.
From time to time, random events (taken from the selection of incident cards) affect the player's career. As the would-be footballing star improves his skills and earns more money, the financial impact of injuries and other misfortunes is increased - but appearance fees and racecourse winnings increase too.
Early in the game, the player has to choose an international side to play for, and once skill levels have been built up the star footballer is called upon to represent the chosen country in international friendlies - all useful goal-scoring opportunities that might influence the judges at the end of the year!
When the season ends, a report on progress is prepared and teams may be promoted or relegated. Talented players may find a transfer deal... Finally, the shortlist of candidates for the ultimate accolade is presented and the judges sit in decision. Could you become Footballer Of The Year?
'This isn't a bad little game at all. Okay, so perhaps it won't appeal to your out-and-out arcade freak, but t certainly isn't dull. Graphically there is nothing here that is eyebrow-raising, but all in all it's quite neat. Icons, charts and the like are all well drawn, and the arcade sequence is adequate. The sound is dull - a tunette at the start and a few minimal effects are all you get. I don't see myself playing this forever, but it'll certainly keep me amused for a couple of lunchtimes.'
'What a strange game GREMLIN have come up with here. I can't say that I've seen anything quite like it before, although it 's similar to Football Manager - without requiring the same thought (if you see what I mean). It is easy to see past the smart exterior of Footballer Of The Year - it's really just a lot of cute little sections, none of which are amazingly good or dominant My favourite section is when you get the chance to shoot at goal - but I soon found even this a little too easy. This is a nice idea but whether you'll find yourself playing it again and again is a different matter - I found it started to get tedious after a while.'
'This game has some nice screens with colour used well, especially on the menu. The football sequence is not very good - the goalie has not been animated very well and the defenders move in very bad diagonals. The arcade section doesn't require a lot of skill. There's a large element of chance as well as strategy, and skill is needed when it comes to juggling with all the variables and coping with financial decisions. The presentation falls down a bit: screen messages sometimes flash up too quickly to read and the computer bleeps at odd times. Maybe this game will only appeal to the real football fanatic.'
: Q left, W right, P up, L down, SPACE fireJoystick
: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2Use of colour
: colourful icons, little elsewhereGraphics
: nothing specialSound
: mediocreSkill levels
: sevenGeneral Rating:
Reasonably good fun, but a little too easy.
Well Brian, I just stuck me boot out and there it was, in the back of the net!
The main icon-controlled menu screen, where the campaign to become FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR begins in earnest.