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Ocean Software Ltd
Kaos: Tony Cooper
Sport: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Other Links

Max Phillips
Chris Bourne

As offensive plays go, Oceans invented a whole new ball game with its belated but NFL licensed Superbowl XX tape. Forget the fact that Superbowl was in January and the game came out in May - with the Bears and Patriots hastily stuffed into the code. And ignore the lost Raider on the cover.

Fortunately, the finished game isn't all bad. While it's a far cry from the speed and excitement of most sports sims, Superbowl does actually feel a bit like the real thing. Like a rain-soaked game on a Brighton weekend, there's a lot of hanging around, a lot of amateur tumbling and brief moments of the intense thrills that only American Football delivers.

It's a two-player only game - well, you can go for 'single player strategy mode' which is when your mates clear off and you have to play both sides on your tod - but that's the kind of thing that stunts your growth.

You play on a birds-eye view of the pitch - from an altitude that makes it difficult to see what's going on. On the left of the screen is a scoreboard, some rather repetitive (and occasionally misleading) family-size action replays and a series of menus for both players to set their strategy before each play.

In turn, the offensive picks a play - long pass, short pass and so on - including a small selection of well-known moves like Double-Wing, Shot-Gun and so on. Next, the defense picks a strategy and sets up which players mark who and who is under the player's control.

Straight after the snap, you feel like cursing Ocean for its bizarre choice of keys (only one joystick is supported in this two-player game) and you rapidly discover that most plays end in one of a limited number of outcomes: usually a sacking, and if you're lucky, a fumble.

The game has the added bonus of an audio tape explaining play for beginners - something the inlay card fails to do despite being five pages of tripe long.

Superbowl is essential for fanatical fans; if you know the game and are prepared to work at Ocean's unique rendering of it, then it's quite good fun. But for the rest of you, working out the computer version is as impossible as working out the real thing on the telly. Just Oooh and Arrr when everybody else does; and hope that BAFL and Budweiser license some other software house to have a go in time for Wembley.