You'd only have to have the intellect of a small frozen pea not to have realised there's a World Cup this summer. (I resent that remark! Small frozen pea's voice) I mean, you surely didn't think it was a coincidence that every single software company in the world (and their dog) were inundating us with 20 trillion (at the last count) football games this year, did you? (Actually, yes. Small frozen pea's voice) I rest my case.
Anyway, of the aforementioned flood of footie games, here comes the only officially licenced one - it's Virgin Mastertronic's World Cup Soccer italia 90. This game originally came to the toff 16-bit machines from a coin-op converted by some bizarre Hungarian programming house! Our version though, you'll be pleased to hear, has come via those much more sensible Probe chappies.
Gone is the horribly baffling Hungarian version of the World Cup qualifying charts, but so too has the ref, the red and yellow cards (yuk yuk!) and the players being carted off on stretchers (boo hiss!). What we're left with is your usual one or two-player sort of overhead viewpoint arcade football game in which you lead Italy, England, Belgium or Spain on their bid for the World Cup. Why? I mean what happened to Scotland, Eire, Brazil, West Germany and the other 16 qualifying teams? Perhaps Virgin thought these were the only teams worth watching!
Anyway, the control system again offers little new - as usual you control the arrowed player (press Fire to move to another player). When pursuing the ball you press Fire to perform a sliding tackle and when in possession press Fire again to kick. Where World Cup Soccer 90 differs is in the way it switches viewpoint once you approach the goal - you find yourself positioned behind the striker staring into the net! Oh, ad if you're defending you get to control the goalie. Anyway, you both sort of move left and right in a crab-like fashion, then the striker shoots and the goalie (sometimes) dives (usually the wrong way). But don't dawdle too long though or you switch back to overhead view as a defender deftly whips the ball out from under your feet!
The pitch is green (of course) and the two opposing teams are blue and black. Sound is confined to a simple whistle for free kicks, and a salvo of whistles for full time. Still, despite the limitations of Speccy graphics, the gameplay is smooth and addictive. The 16-bit difficulty levels have gone unfortunately and, contrary to popular belief, Soccer - in World Cup Italia 90 - is a game of one half. Win the four minute match and you're onto the next qualifier etc etc. Nothing ground-shattering here, but smooth gameplay and plenty of addiction. Perhaps not the est of the World Cup batch (largely because apart from the title and the instruction booklet it has very little to do with the machinations of the World Cup!) but a close contender as a pretty good footie game.
Goalie wibbles left, Roy of the Rovers wibbles right, he shoots and... and... Just how old is Roy of the Rovers anyway? He's been going for blimmin' ages.
Young Wilson, Fulchester United's start striker, sweeps down the wing in a bid for goal, scoring fame and fortune. (Fat chance, Ed)
Ooyah! All this ferocious tackling will leave you both black and blue! (Er, except you already are of course!)