While our discerning and thoughtful reviews rarely comment on the boxes in which our games arrive, the casing of Italy 1990 warrants a special mention.
Of the dozen players depicted in the grizzly front-of-box montage, only three appear free from mental disorder: There a pogo-dancing Argy, a high-kicking German, Freddy Mercury in an Ireland jersey and a flying Dutchman with astonishing hair. All the rest are sliding, diving and lunging for balls that simply aren't there Crackers.
Fortunately, apart from the barmy load-a-match (even in 128k) set-up, Italy 1990 is perfectly fine, if a little quick.
Once your control options are satisfactorily in place, it's time to select your country and squad. Each player you highlight has a set of variables: skill, speed, aggression (lordy!) and strength. Pick the right men for the job and you could be on your way to a healthy cup-winners' bonus.
If you re out for a real challenge, you can opt to play Cameroon, position all the worst players in the wrong positions, and test your skills to the absolute limit.
A quiff-sporting TV presenter announces your next match and the kicking begins in earnest. Even with a heavenly selection of Brazilian players, I found myself receiving a sound drubbing every time.
Unlike many recent footies, Italy 1990 is damned quick. The players hare around the pitch slogging the ball superhuman distances. It's darned difficult to intercept the ball, 'cos it moves at such a lick.
The action is frequently slowed down by shots of the scoreboard, indicating when a goal kick, corner kick, goal etc, has occurred. It'd be nice if there was an option to remove this feature, as it slows an otherwise speedy game quite considerably.
Ball control is adequate, but there still no 'trap' option. Once you're running with the ball, you've got to keep running or boot it. No chance of stopping, finding your man and passing. Sometimes it feels more like playing basketball than footy.
Quite unlike it's rather shoddy 16 bit counterparts, the Speccy version of Italy 1990 is really rather fine. Makes a nice change, doesn't it.
Label: US Gold
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter
Satisfying mix of frills and depth. On-pitch play and action too!
The rather frequent corners are indicated by the scoreboard. Time for a breather is sometimes appreciated.