Cricket is not the liveliest of games and that could be why Howzat, originally released at full price by Wyvern Software, is such a lame duck.
You'd expect, maybe, the atmosphere of hot, sticky, June days. Batsmen and bowlers would be controlled by joystick and there would be action packed bird's and wicket's eye views of the grounds. Instead, Howzat! is played by rigid little matchstick men - I think they're men - who are almost invisible against a sickly green green.
Admittedly, at the start of the game you get to select the event and your team, but that's about all the action you'll see: it's a bit like watching Geoffrey Boycott in a particularly bad year.
You can take part in a one day test or in a series such as the Benson and Hedges League or the Texaco Trophy. Your choice of event is unlikely to influence on play - it doesn't make the darndest bit of - difference but it's nice to add that extra bit of authenticity to the game.
Teams can be made up of county or test stars, or your own, specially created, players. When you choose your 'own' team you type in their names and give each batting and bowling ratings between zero and ten. It's possible to build up the ultimate team, who all have top marks and can thrash the opposition, but that rather defeats the purpose of the simulation. There should have been some sort of restriction on allotting rating points.
Once you've chosen the captain and wicket keepers of both teams the toss decides the order of play. The bowling team has all the cards as the batting team can only decide which two players should go in and whether to run after a successful swing of the bat. The bowling team, on the other hand, can position fielders and start a bowling run. You can't, however, decide what sort of bowling action you want or the force of delivery. Some simulation where everything's randomly generated!
Play actions are randomly generated on the batting side as well. Once the bowler's pitched the ball you'll either hit it or not, it and either will or won't be caught. You then have the choice - Yes/No - of making a run.
As cricket simulations go - usually very slowly - Howzat is certainly LBW, even with the budget price tag.
The game would have been just as exciting it it played with itself.
Label: Alternative Software
Reviewer: John Gilbert
Simulation? Ha! it's a fairly futile game, duller than the real thing. Alternative has been caught out with this one.