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Sport: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Marcus Berkmann
Chris Bourne

"... And now the big match of the winter between those software giants,Ocean Utd and Gremlin Academicals, as they both try and steal each other's thunder with top-ranking footie sims on the Spectrum. What do you think, Greavsie?"

"Wor gor grunge wor fwunk, Saint."

"Well of course. We sent cub reporter Marcus Berkmann to weight up the challengers..."

Gary's done good, Jimmy. All the lads done good. It was the right result on the day, Jimmy, they gave 469035470000 per cent. Meanwhile, we have Gary (in by helicopter for the press launch - pass the roamaphone) lending his name to this little number from Gremlin, another of that company's management game-cum-footie action simulations a la Footballer Of The Year. That game, which came out a year or so ago, was a bit of a mishmash - beautifully programmed but a little deficient in the game department. And, well, this is much the same.

Super Soccer isn't as glossy as its predecessor, possibly 'cos there's rather more to it, but I'm not sure this hybrid approach can ever be very successful. Most people want either a management game (like The Double or Football Director) or a straight ahead action simulation like Match Day. Combine the two and you don't take the best of each - you just take half of each. And two halves don't always make a whole (Thank you, Wittgenstein, Ed)

You're playing six-a-side, in a division of 20-odd, but you only play seven games a season. Confused? In fact you can change the rules to play any number of games if you wish Your players are graded in terms of skill (0 to 99) and age (youth is best) and you have a squad of 10 (two subs, two reserves). To upgrade your team you can recruit a player, trade players with other clubs and improve your team by giving them extra training. All these cost training points - you start with 250 of these and you get more and more all the time (why and how, I'm not quite sure).

In terms of sheer information, this game's almost as comprehensive as The Double, but Johnson Scanatron put it to better use. Choosing your team and then keeping it together is both very easy and reliant on large quantities of luck. There isn't the subtlety here of many other similar games.

Then we move to the game itself, which to be frank is not a patch on Match Day II. It's harder to control, less well animated and generally less fun to play. You can choose joystick control of centre forward or goalie (all the other members of the team will be looked after by the computer), and if you take control of the coach too, you can decide on your attacking and defensive tactics (three choices each). Or if the game bits bore you to death, you don't need to watch them at all, and can go straight to the results.

It's perfectly playable and all that, but there's nothing here that would recommend itself to fans of any of the game's I mentioned above. It's got a pic of Gary Lineker on it, of course, which may sway some people, but if you're really determined to buy it you shouldn't let that put you off. Otherwise, in the words of the French midfield maestro Michel Platini, "Malade comme un perroquet, Brian, je suis choked, et gutted..."

In the Footballer Of The Year mould, but not really original or playable enough for most footie sim fans.