I think this is the first personally-endorsed management game I've ever seen actually. For non-footy folk like me, who wouldn't know Trevor Brooking from Trevor & Simon, the instructions give a potted history of the great man's career. He's Very Famous, and certainly someone you'd doff your cap to in the street (if you recognised him). If, on the other hand, the mere mention of his name pricks up your ears and you want to know how your hero contributes to the game - well, hold on, I'll get to that in a minute.
As with all management games, you've been put in charge of a team that's completely crap. Can you transform them into a footballing machine mighty enough to meet the challenge of winning the World Cup? Or will you remain in the Jon Pillar League and lose 3-0 at home to Panama (again)? Only you can decide - and the first step in achieving your goal (clunk!) is to pick your squad. Trim the 39 hopefuls to a nicely-balanced 22, and you're ready to start training them. Depending on the difficulty level, you have 16 to 20 hours to coach them in teamwork, fitness and individual skills. Then, choose the lucky 11 (and five substitutes) and you're ready to play a qualifier (or a practice friendly) by positioning them on-field.
This bit is rather niftily done, on a set grid with squares marked "A"-"O". The instructions kindly describe the brain-wrenchingly complex ways each possible position interacts with the others, and from there it's up to you to sprinkle your team around in the best formation you can come up with without keeling over from the mental strain. (I usually settled for the Classic Paranoid 1-5-4.)
The matches are presented as running commentaries, with the screen also showing both teams' positional strengths. By following the commentary you can pick out the weaknesses of your opponent's (and your own) strategies, and take the appropriate substitutions and gameplan revisions. But watch out! So can the other side (the scamps!). At half-time and full-time, Trev appears (at last!) to briefly analyse the teams performances in true, tactful-British-commentator style. (I once lost 11-1 to Austria and he thought "our teamwork was superb". Thank, Trev.) And then it's a quick look at how the rest of the world's doing before going round again, until you're either knocked out of the tournament or win the Cup.
Okay. So far, so good.
Well... (adopts tactful tone)... maybe I've been spoiled by games like Tracksuit Manager, but TBWCG seems rather flat by comparison. No, (changes to stern reviewing voice) let's be honest, It's a bit crap. The whole player selection system seems more 'user-hostile' than 'user-friendly'. (A management game that insists you re-enter the whole team after each match?!) What's more the running commentary isn't a patch on the likes of Tracksuit's ball-by-ball plays which had me chewing my lips off with tension. Here, the most comprehensive comment is, "England pushes up middle". Excitement? I was literally sitting there. (And you're supposed to pore over this to deduce your opponent's weaknesses?)
Get used to the, er, idiosyncrasies' (like playing matches without a goalie) and you may grow to like it. But don't bet on it. It's got a very unfinished feel, and the Trev tie-in is minimal to say the least. In fact, buy Tracksuit instead, and you've still got some cash left for the next management game. (If the tension doesn't kill you...)
Lots of lists of numbers, very little Trevor and certainly no Glory. Oh well.
Oh, blimey. There's nothing I hate worse than writing captions for screens full of text. Erm, here are some names...
And here are even more names (though they're the name of countries this time). Exciting, eh? (Erm, no.)
Last lot of names, and thankfully it's a short on too. Erm, well done, guys.