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Simon J.C. Davies
Sport: Management
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Bourne

As Head Coach, it's your task to manage an American Football team to the heady heights of success. You need to keep a keen eye on the player market, getting rid of useless players and snapping up the odd bargain. Careful study of other teams is also needed to select a squad to counter the strengths of the opposition and take advantage of its weaknesses.

Initially, you are given a choice of one of the twenty-four teams which are grouped in fours, in six divisions. There are four skill levels: novice, rookie, veteran and all-pro. A thirty-two player squad is made up of kickers, quarterbacks, running-backs, defensive-backs, line-backers, offensive linemen, tight ends, wide receivers and defensive linemen. Players are numbered according to their positions, with offense, defense and special team groupings listed on separate screens. The team lists display various information on each of the 1500 players in the program age, skill rating, fitness and form. Trading, the equivalent of the British soccer transfer system, takes place on weekdays.

Before each game, the comparative strengths of both sides are detailed on the screen. The pitch condition and wind velocity are also given before kick-off important when deciding which 'plays' to go for. The success of a field goal depends on the kicker's distance from the posts and his skill.

Matches are played out graphically on the green gridiron. Your team plays in blue against the opposition's black. A red bar across the top of the screen indicates how much of the game has been played. If a game is drawn, there's a tie-breaker in the form of extra-time the first side-to score wins.

After the final score has been flashed up on screen, the results of the other matches are given, followed by the league tables showing each team's current position. This is sometimes followed by a news item suggesting new training techniques or that a player has become available on the trade market.

At the end of the twelve game season, six division winners plus one extra team from each conference enter the playoffs leading to the Superbowl final. A twenty day period follows, set aside for the six rounds of the College Draft in which about thirty players are available per round.


'On the whole I don't really get on with games like this as they are often too complicated, brain taxing or just badly presented - this is one such. Head Coach does not require a great deal of user participation so it's very hard to get into or play successfully - it gets quite monotonous. The program responds slowly to keyed input and there are long delays in between some screens because it's written in BASIC. The graphics are generally sloppy. The sound is also minimal - a few spot effects during the game and a few trashy tunettes on the title screen or when you win. On the whole I didn't find this game playable or compelling so I wouldn't really recommend it.'

'Well, it had to come sometime. How could anyone live without a follow-up to the mega Football Manager? Looking at Head Coach, I know that I certainly could. It's got abysmal graphics, and is very difficult to get into, especially if you're not heavily into American Football. Head Coach is fun to play, however, if you've got the time to get started and once into it I think it highly likely that it'll be a long time before you're out. Addictiveness is one thing that ADDICTIVE games do have, even if they are lacking in every conceivable technical detail. Worth a look if you're a real Am Foot freak, but otherwise, unless you really flipped over Football Manager, I'd recommend you stay away.'

'Now look guys! I knows a thing or two about American Footy, and you have quarters in the game. Head Coach doesn't! It also tells you that your next play is the last one of the game. This is just not on -American Football also has two minute warnings, throwing the ball out of play to stop the clock and time-outs. The game is inaccurate, and the player selection is terrible... I was unhappy to see that you can't pick individual players for each position, and you can't give players names. Head Coach is not only inaccurate, but terribly boring to play. If people buy this thinking that they are getting an American Football game, they'll be unhappy - it does nothing to enhance the image of the game in this country. Fancy an arcade Am Foot game? Get Superbowl. A bit more on the strategy side? You wouldn't go far wrong with the ARGUS game, but ADDICTIVE have got it all wrong.'

Control keys: most of the keyboard used
Joystick: not really needed
Keyboard play: slow responses to input
Use of colour: very BASIC, only necessary to decorate the text
Graphics: mainly text, with a few pwetty pictures here and there
Sound: few spot effects, with an awful Yankee Doodle tune
Skill levels: one
Screens: field screen plus menus
General Rating: Neither a very playable nor accurate simulation.


Screenshot Text

San Diego play the LA Raiders - it's no score all round and a Field Goal has just been missed.