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Sport: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Andy Smith
Chris Bourne

Gremlin's own goal?

Fantasies are made of this: join a fourth division team as centre forward and win promotion to the first division. Not only does Gary Lineker's Superstar Soccer give you the chance to participate in the games but it also allows you to play manager (and coach) and make all the really important decisions. Unfortunately Gremlin's program is not the stuff of which dreams are made...

There are two basic sections to the game; on-screen playing and the tactical decision making. During the former you wear the centre forward's shirt and the computer handles the rest of the players. The idea is to anticipate the movements of the rest of the team and to put yourself in the best possible attacking position.

Whenever the ball goes out of play (throw ins. free kicks etc ) the screen changes and gives the player the chance to make the all-important tactical decisions e.g. the player can choose to Shoot, Pass or Mix. SHOOT means that all the players on your side in a position to kick the ball will have a shot at goal. PASS means the rest of the players will try and pass the ball to the centre forward (you) and MIX is, as the name suggests, a mixture of both. There are also defensive decisions to be made including cover (which is a concerted effort by your team members to regain possession of the ball) and defend which results in the players staying back and shoring up the defence.

For each match a time compressor is included, where the player can speed up the game (this compressor varies with the various versions but it can be set to run at 10 times normal speed on all versions). This is jolly handy if you don't want to sit through the full 45 minutes per side.

It's not all fun and games on the turf though; those all-important managerial decisions have to be made - should you try to recruit a new player? Should you try and trade one of your ageing players? Should you use some of your valuable trade points at the start of the season in an attempt to improve the general performance of your team?

Gary Lineker's Superstar Soccer is a valiant effort to combine two highly popular minority interests - the football game simulation and the football strategy game. Unfortunately all it manages to do is oversimplify both types of game and consequently leaves the player feeling a little left out of it all.

Reviewer: Andy Smith

C64/128, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Out Now
Spec, £9.99cs, Out Now
Ams, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
Atari ST, £19.99dk, Imminent

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 55/100
1 hour: 60/100
1 day: 45/100
1 week: 20/100
1 month: 10/100
1 year: 0/100

Superior graphics and gameplay make the C64 version an enjoyable game. Poor graphics and gameplay make it one to miss on the Spectrum.


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The characters are well drawn but poorly animated, the play is fast and it's almost impossible to distinguish which is your character from the rest of the players. There are some terrible glitches in the game - a game of three halves would you believe? It's also perfectly legal to pinch the ball from the opposition just before they kick off and run it into the back of their net for another goal, or so it would seem in Gary Lineker's Superstar Soccer.

The strategy side of things is OK as far as it goes and can be quite involving - for a while. The player gains 'trade points' depending on his level of success during the 7 match season and has to spend them effectively in order to further his club. Unfortunately the interest soon palls even here because of the limited scope for decision-making.


Generally a much better game on the C64, though it smacks of Americanisms (the C64 version was written by American software house Mindscape). For example, it you're playing a cup match and at the end of normal play the match is a draw, the teams get to play 'overtime' (not extra time) and the first team to score during this period wins. Generally the play is fast and involving and it's nice to see the players performing overhead bicycle kicks with surprising accuracy. Extras are included in the shape of 'off the ball' incidents which add atmosphere to the game. Since you're playing only one player, however, the action palls rapidly. There is a slight improvement on the strategy side with a couple of extra options, but even so gameplay soon becomes tedious and only the most dedicated fans will slay involved for any great length of time.

Graphics: 7/10

Audio: 6/10

IQ Factor: 6/10

Fun Factor: 6/10

Ace Rating: 739/1000

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 60/100

1 hour: 70/100

1 day: 78/100

1 week: 72/100

1 month: 50/100

1 year: 10/100

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C64 version - graphically superior and a lot better to play. A real shame about the awful Americanisms present in the program.

Spectrum version - pretty tough to tell who's who in this version of the game.

'...and Gremlin have headed this one in with both feet...'