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US Gold Ltd
Sport: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Stuart Campbell
Chris Bourne

Hey, did I ever tell you about when I used to play two-a-side football in the park with my chums when I was little? (Yes you did, for the whole of last month's Skate Wars review. Painfully tedious it was, too. Ed) Oh. Bang goes another interesting anecdote, then. Might as well talk about the game for a bit, eh?

In a blinding stroke of marketing brilliance, Kixx have noticed that the European Championships have just happened and released a football game at just the right time to catch all the associated media hype. Not so brilliantly, they've released a game that's actually about the wrong tournament altogether, but we'll forgive them for now, cos with the way the Speccy market is at the moment, beggars can't be choosers.

So the World Cup it is, and Italy 1990 gets off to a good start with some neat presentation in the style of a TV show, like commentators introducing each match and flashy electronic scoreboard interludes whenever the ball goes out of play. Sadly, that's pretty much where it stops being good. When you get into the actual game, you'll find monochrome sprites which are almost completely indistinguishable from each other dashing around (admittedly in a jolly fast and smooth manner) on a pitch so colossal that it's practically impossible to tell where you actually are on it at any given time. Yep, it's that big.

This, and the lack of a scanner, means that there's only one safe way to play. You just get the ball, do a bit of a zig-zag run up the pitch with it until you see the lines of the penalty area coming into view, then turn diagonally and belt the ball past the useless computer goalkeeper. You can't do any clever passing stuff because there frequently aren't any other players on the screen, and even when there are you can't tell if they're on your side or not. Mind you, the computer teams are so crap that you don't actually need any clever stuff to rack up easy 14-0 victories in your first games.

Now for the really bad news. Italy 1990 features the most stupendously ridiculous multiload this side of The Spy Who Loved Me. Even with 128K, after every match you have to load in a lengthy section to get the results of the other games in the tournament, then rewind the tape back to the start and load the actual match section again! Which pretty much puts the tin lid on it, really.


Screenshot Text

Talking of football, why did Scotland have to play the World Champions and the European Champions? It smells suspiciously like some sort of Euro-conspiracy to me. Pah!