1986
Sport: Action
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

46
Jerry Muir
Chris Bourne

Well, Ron. It was like this... I was approached by the manager up at Manchester who says to me. "Imagine the most realistic computer soccer game ever. Would you transfer?" Naturally, I was interested...

Super Soccer can easily lay claim to comprehensiveness Pre-match there are all those managerial decisions to take - like the length of the game, its difficulty and whether you'll practice, play a single game or go for the cup in Tournament mode.

If you choose the latter, you'll find yourself drawn as one of the eight teams at the quarter finals stage of a knockout competition, which means that up to eight people can play - though if you're on your own the computer will still generate scores for the others.

Then there are problems that Cloughie never even dreamed of, such as choosing a new name for the team or altering the colour of the strip, the pitch and even its border.

When you've re decorated the stadium to your satisfaction, it's out on to the astro-turf and into the game. And this is where it really gets complex because, as well as the usual features, such as running and tackling. Imagine has added a host of new refinements.

Even jogging around isn't quite the simple matter of point the joystick and go. Pushing it in any one direction accelerates you and to slow down you have to pull back on it. A sideways move turns you through a right- angle, bringing you to a skidding halt, while turning to one of the intermediate forward positions curves you through 45 degrees but you keep on running.

This gives you a sense of momentum as you swoop down the wing, and you have to make gentle turns rather than darting about like an angry wasp. Keep an eye on your speed as well, because not only does a fast run mean that you're in contact with the ball for less of the time, but you'll also tire yourself out. An energy meter, at the top of the screen, warns you when it's time to sit down and suck another orange.

Kicking is almost as complex. Another bar indicator shows how much welly you're giving the shot, and this is increased by holding down Fire You can also choose the type of kick.

Pulling straight back gives you a chip, while crosses are achieved with a backwards and sideways movement. Free kicks and throw ins give even more directional control, with low straight drives, lobs and three types of chip (straight, crinkle-cut and greasy?) That's the theory at any rate, but in practice... well, let's just say it takes a lot of practice. This is the first footie game on the Spectrum that allows for fouls, as far, as I know. Your players can be booked and even sent off for the odd sliding tackle that makes contact with opponent rather than ball.

When a free kick or a corner occurs you switch to an overhead plan of the pitch, and you have 30 seconds to manipulate your men. According to the instructions they can go anywhere, but I kept finding that my lazy team was limited in how far its members would walk.

Finally there's that vexed question of control. Even in a seven-a-side game, you can only guide one player at a time.

Imagine has hit on the unique method of indicating which one by giving your chosen man a halo, which adds a whole new meaning to The Saint, doesn't it, Greavsie?

It's a good clear system, and the rest of your team also behaves logically, running with the ball and trying to get into useful positions. There's even been an attempt to let you select which player is blessed with your attention. When nobody is in possession Fire transfers the celestial hula-hoop to the next man in line.

The system still isn't quite smooth enough for my liking though. It's annoying when two men are almost equal distances from the ball to find control switching from one to the other while your opponents swoop in.

Ball control is difficult, too, and the complexity of the program seems to have slowed down the on-screen action a little so that the teams appear to be running on treacle.

In the end I can only admire the ingenuity that's gone into Super Soccer, and praise its innovations. But I have to regret that for me, it just doesn't quite come off.

Label: Imagine
Author: RCD/DJ Anderson
Price: £7.95
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Sinclair
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Jerry Muir

****

Nice try, Jimmy, but unless you're prepared to spend time training you'll never make it out of fourth division.

4/5