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Empire Software
1990
Sport: Action
£9.99
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
None

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72
Gordon Houghton
Chris Bourne

EMPIRE and Mars Bar Boy make a real soccer turkey with this no-go footie sim.

Paul Gascoigne, as any football fan worth his salt will tell you, is like George Best. They'll inform you that he's one of those players who has an amazing amount of skill and potential, but his temperament lets him down. "The Mars Bar Boy" and "Fatty" are just a couple of this lovable, cheeky character's previous appellations; most people these days call him "Gazza" and this is where Empire and the programming boys at ODE step in.

Gazza's Super Soccer gives you three basic options; you can play a single game, create a league or generate a cup competition. If you play a one-off, you're offered the choice of one or two players, each of whom can select teams (drawn from the current First Division), name their players individually and decide on skill levels and tactics.

League and Cup competitions follow a similar pattern. For example, in both you decide on the tournament size (between four and 20 teams for the League, and between eight and 64 for the Cup), then create a new team or load a saved one. You can also name the contest: unfortunately, the program doesn't allow many letters, so if you wanted to call your cup "Littlewoods", it would read '"Littlewoo". There's an extra option which allows saved code from any 8-bit machine to load into any other 8-bit machine - a nice touch.

Unfortunately, the action doesn't complement the meticulous pre-match presentation. It's displayed in three parts: a central section viewed from the side, and two end sections seen from the viewpoint of the attacking team. In any event, the player in possession is marked by a triangle above his head.

The system used is a big let-down. The controls are fiddly (you have to change direction when the viewpoint changes, and you have to press "Enter" to access the goalkeeper), and the graphics are poor, particularly the sense of perspective, the pitch proportions and the player animation. This latter aspect is so jerky that it's hard to see what's going on a lot of the time, a fact aggravated by the seemingly aimless wanderings of most of the other players on the pitch. To cap it all, the sound is limited to a few measly blips and vague roaring noises.

If the other versions are anything like this, avoid them. The programmers don't seem to have captured the feel, speed or excitement of real football, and certainly haven't matched the addictiveness of other soccer sims. It's enough to put Gazza back on the Mars Bars again.

Gordon Houghton

RELEASE BOX
Spectrum £9.99 cs, £14.99dk, Out Now
Atari ST £24.99dk, Imminent
Amiga ST £24.99dk, Imminent
C64/128 £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
Amstrad £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
No other versions planned

Predicted Interest Curve

1 hour: 2/5
1 day: 2/5
1 week: 2/5
1 month: 0/5
1 year: 0/5

Confusing and disappointing to begin with, Gazza's Super Soccer never even scales the foothills of mediocrity, preferring the quiet, grassy plains of football game oblivion. If you do take to the style of gameplay (which is unlikely), the multiple options for generating your own leagues and cups may well keep you happy for a week or so. After that, the game will be consigned to the bin marked "I wish I hadn't bought that".

3/10
2/10
6/10
2/10
2970/10

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SPECTRUM

If you've ever played Matchday II, you'll know what a Spectrum can do with a soccer game. It can provide easy-to-handle controls, tense and exciting gameplay and a wide variety of options. Gazza's Soccer scores ten out of ten for options, but forgets the most important bit: the action! It's better to watch the man himself on TV than subject yourself to a football simulation which fails miserably in the gameplay department.

THE SOCCER SYNDROME

Without a shadow of a doubt, Soccer simulations have always been the most popular sport titles for micros. Over the past decade there has been a whole plethora of games from huge turkeys to absolutely stunning timeless pieces of programming.

Perhaps the first program to really make its mark was Ocean's Matchday, developed by programming supremo Jon Ritman (also responsible for superlative games like Head over Heels and the original Batman isometric 3D adventure.

Most recently, however, the crown has been taken easily by Anco's superb Kick Off. This utilises an overhead view rather than Matchday's side-on perspective.

With so many soccer games around at the moment, and in the face of such strong competition, it will be interesting to see whether titles like Gazza's Super Soccer and Footballer of the Year 2 can hold their own. It also remains to be seen whether Anco can remain at the top of the league with their impending management sim Player Manager (see the review elsewhere in this issue for more details).

Screenshot Text

In the centre of the pitch you get a side-on view similar to Matchday.

Approaching the ends of the pitch, the view switches to a head-on display.

There are plenty of options in Gazza, but they don't make up for the disappointing action.