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US Gold Ltd
1990
Sport: Action
£9.99
£3.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

12
Rich Pelley
Chris Bourne

Well, did we win? I haven't the foggiest! I'm writing this three days before the Argentina/Cameroon match has kicked off! All of which is a bit of a shame for US Gold really - Italy 1990 missed the YS review treatment last month by a footballer's bootlace. Boo hoo! Anyway, it's here now, so better late than never, eh, Spec-chums?

Of course, at this point, I could go on about how I'm a real footie fan, how much I love soccer games, and how thrilled I am to be given the chance to review this game. But seeing as that would be a complete lie I don't think that I'll bother. I mean, soccer games aren't exactly big news, are they? Just check out JD's complete (and utter) guide to footie, two issues back, and you'll find that we've had over 60 (yes, 60) of the blighters in the past. And that ain't including the last issue which was bursting to the staples with even more of the pesky things. So having to play yet another one hasn't exactly made my day. If you narta mean. But hang on a mo - isn't Italy 1990 the only game which has actually got anything to do with the World Cup? Oh, except for World Cup Italia 1990, that is. And countless others probably. But you know what I mean. (No. I don't think so. Ed) Perhaps it's still got a bit of hope in it after all.

After fighting off the mound of free posters, competition entry forms and World Cup information booklets (quite neat and well put together actually - my Dad's already stolen my copy!), you'll eventually uncover the tape (or indeed disk) and slap it into your Spec. The first thing to do is to pick your team. Footie fans'll love this bit because everything is true to the real thing, so you get all the correct teams, players, venues and dates as in the real tobasco. Then it's time to choose your formation, pick your team (with little digitised piccies showing you what position they play - very impressive, thank you) and away you go, either playing against a chum in a friendly, or competing in the very World Cup itself.

A quick(ish) load from the tape and it's kick off. Yep. folks, underneath all that World Cup blurb, Italy 1990 is no more than a Matchday look-a-like. Not that that's a bad thing, of course. I almost found myself enjoying it for a bit, until I luckily came to my senses (and not a minute too soon). Y'know the sort of thing - you control the player nearest to the ball and run (or rather jerk) up and down the scrolling pitch, tackling (even slide-tackling), passing, heading, chipping the ball about and occasionally scoring the odd goal here and there. It's really quite exciting, believe me. And a nice little touch is the little animated sequences that tell you what's just happened if there's been a goal kick or something.

In case you were wondering, apparently all that business concerning skill factors and strength that I mentioned earlier applies here. Supposedly, the stronger the player the further he can kick the ball, and the skill factor determines how easily he can tackle or keep the ball. Trouble is it's a bit hard to tell how true that is because everyone looks the same (in glorious monochrome, in fact), and even though I chose the best team with the best players I'm still crap and losing six-nil. Oh dear. Never said I was very good at footie games, though, did I? So seeing as I'm so hopeless at this sort of thing I decided to call in an expert - my little brother - who managed to polish the thing off on his first game and win the World Cup within three quarters of an hour. Surprisingly, this wasn't because he's a pure genius, merely due to the fact that Italia 1990 is a tad on the easy side.

And there you go. Not really much more to say. It's a footie game, and one whose job it is to follow the World Cup to its absolute limit. But strip away all the outer makings of a well-presented game and inside you'll find little more than your average soccer offering. It's still quite fun, if you're into that sort of thing, but for those of us looking tor a decent game at the end of the day (and one with a spanky two-player option into the bargain) it's probably a better option to stick with that old classic Matchday 2 instead. Hmmph.

(ED'S NOTE I'm afraid I think Rich is a bit wrong about this actually - I reckon he's been pals with Jonathan Davies too long and Jonathan's rabid hatred of footie games has somewhat addled the poor chap's mind. For what it's worth I'd say Italy 1990, despite being too easy, is the best of the World Cup offerings around at the moment and a far cry from the utter disaster of last time's World Cup Carnival (if anyone remembers that). For a start, despite the fact that Virgin got the only official World Cup licence, this one actually plays much more like the World Cup itself- you're not limited to the ridiculous choice of playing one of only four teams for instance (including the pathetic Belgium but excluding Brazil!). The presentation helps too - like the score boards showing when a corner or goal kick is coming up and the nifty booklet you get thrown in with the package. I know what game I'll be playing this year.)

Above average footie game with a strong World Cup flavour. Probably the best of the current crop.

66%
82%
83%
81%
81%

Banner Text

Oh no - this little chap's running off in totally the wrong direction! Oi! Come back!

Uh-oh - look at the score! This isn't exactly shaping up to be the most exciting match ever, is it?

And here we are in the actual football bit of the game. Yes, okay, it is all a bit green, and the teams are quite hard to tell apart, but the whole thing's well programmed, runs smoothly and makes for lorra good fun. Hurrah!

Sightly odd perspective, isn't it? (It's as if we're sitting right behind the goal.)

Despite the slightly confusing muddle you see here, Italy 1990 is actually one of the best animated games about.

Screenshot Text

Here's one of the neat digitised score board scenes that come on whenever something good happens - neat, eh?

Here we are picking the squad, and look who we're choosing - Butcher! (Oh no!)