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

Tony Dillon
Chris Bourne

Microprose Soccer was originally an uncommissioned game developed by Sensible Software, who then, after producing the Commodore 64 version and seeing what a hot product it was, looked around for a buyer. This came in the form of US sim giants Microprose who then released the game late last year to huge critical acclaim. (Well, me and Gary Whitta liked it). So. here's the Spectrum version at last, after only six months of waiting. How has it converted?

Not brilliantly. The original version relied prominently on the machine's hardware scrolling and sprites, along with the choice of colours. The Spectrum has none of these features available, and so you can't expect the game to be as good.

You get two games for your money, on a double sided cassette or disk. First is Microsoccer, the full blown soccer adventure and on the B-side you get six-a-side indoor soccer.

You can play either a two player friendly, a league with a few of your friends (up to 16 players in total) and start a world championship, with up to 16 human opponents and the rest of the 29 teams controlled by computer. Then you have all the finer options to choose from, such as controls action replays on/off, weather on/off (more later), banana shot power and match length.

So, what's the actual game like. Well, it's an overhead view eight-way scroller with large graphics. That's fine, nothing wrong with that. Now, let's start taking it apart. First point, the scrolling. It's not very smooth. It's actually downright jerky which is already a detraction from the action.

Then you have the size of the graphics. Well, they are very attractive and very well defined. The animation is fair enough, but because of the size in comparison to the size of the playing area, it means you can't see very much of the game. Also, because the graphics are large, detailed and monochrome, there are problems when it comes to telling which player is which. I found it difficult to discern which players belonged to my team and then to add insult to injury, I had to try and work out which player I was controlling.

The problem is that there is little distinction between the three, and that's what spoils a great game. It looks great, but it just doesn't play very well. In a fast moving match against the computer, it's just a little difficult to keep up with what's actually going on, and I must say, most of the time it seems like you don't actually have a player on screen. This isn't very good at all.

But it's not all bad. The game does feature a lot of things that are interesting, if not revolutionary. The action replays, for one. After a goal is scored, the screen turns white and whizzes back through the last ten seconds of the game, and shows the goal in slow motion. Also, you can choose banana power. This is the amount of curve you can give a ball, and when set to high, you can kick the ball through 180'. A handy trick indeed.

Microprose Soccer has become the standard by which all others are set on the 64, and fool that I am, I hoped for the same for the Z80, but alas it was not to be.

Label: Microprose
Author: Smart Egg Software
Price: £9.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: Sinclair/Keys
Reviewer: Tony Dillon

Poor translation of an exceptionally good football game. Disappointing.