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Ocean Software Ltd
1985
Sport: Action
£9.95
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

36
Rachael Smith
Chris Bourne

I think I'm beginning to get the idea of footie. Two teams of men try to kick a ball between two sets of sticks while a panel of experts talks nonsense in the background. At least that's how it appears on TV where, even as I write, England are playing 'those Argie boys' whose main weapon appears to be a midget called Dago Melodrama.

Ocean has neglected the hot air but not the hot action in this expanded version of one of its earliest classics. It's option-packed soccer, letting you choose the keys, team names and colours (all very C & A summer collection) and the skill level of the computer. Will each half actually last forty-five minutes or less? Are you playing a human opponent or the chip? You'll deserve a suck on a slice of orange even before you've reached the kick-off.

A passable rendition of the Match Of The Day theme heralds the passing proper and your reasonably animated little men line up. You control whichever player is closest to the ball, his socks changing colour to indicate the fact - a trick which could be useful for some real life teams!

The CPU's decision is final but it may also seem as eccentric as World Cup refereeing at times. It isn't helped by the fact that the player it chooses may actually be off the scrolling screen at the time of passing. Eventually though, you'll learn to predict which player it thinks is most likely to receive the kick and so you'll prepare to switch to him immediately.

Once you've beaten that particular hurdle the game becomes extremely involving. As far as I can tell, ignorant girly that I am, this is a fair old simulation of the great sport of kick ball. Success even seems to demand the same skills as the real life activity. If you dribble for too long you'll lose possession, so look for your man then pass and continue to press forward that attack.

Goal kicks, throw-ins, kick offs and corners all allow for special control, with left and right swinging the ball to one side, forward and back altering the force of the punt. When threatened with attack your goalie goes into a crouch which indicates he's under your orders and will leap most athletically in the direction you choose.

While this is no substitute for the real thing and there are occasional control problems, it's full of nice touches that make it an engaging pastime. See the crowd go wild with a roar of white noise every time a goal is scored. Thrill as the players run round waving their arms in the air and only just stop short of kissing each other.

There's not a patch or a wall chart to be seen, just a good little game, unlike World Crap Carnival last month. Okay, so it may not match up to Commodore's International Soccer standards, but that title always made Spectrum owners as green as the Wembley turf. It's a brave attempt and with England having lost the World Cup you may find some recompense playing this in the swiltering heat of your 128 - even if it doesn't let you punch goals.

7/10
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