4th & Inches
Copyright/Publisher: Accolade, Designed By: Bob Whitehead, Music: Ed Bogas,
Release Year: 1987, Genre: American Football, Number Of Players: 1 or 2

Exciting grid-iron action in Accolade's superb American football simulation.

Those with a raging desire to run a QB Sneak, execute a Right Dog play or pretend to be a refridgerator should find that Accolade's 4th & Inches fits the bill. This latest version of the trans-Atlantic contact sport gives one or two players the opportunity of manipulating the whole course of a game, from 1st and 10 to final whistle, and even overtime.

Before, a game, the play set-up is confirmed, designating the number of players, team colour (red versus blue) and the length of each quarter, from 5, 10 or 15 minutes.

The main playing screen is divided into four sections: the field, the offensive and defensive play selection boxes (coloured accordingly), plus a panel displaying the down, number of yards remaining and the time. The action is displayed as a s eries of single screens: when the ball reaches the edge of one screen it flicks to the next.

Plays are selected Hardball-style, combining appropriate joystick actions with the fire button. Three selections are made for each play, accessed from separate menus which appear automatically.

The first meny details the team formation available, the second liasts the accessible plays (running, kicking or passing) and the final selection determines the position of the ball receiver in a passing play, or the position of the player-controlled footballer in a running play.

Once the whole play has been determined, it runs automatically with the player able to time the pass, guide the receiver, guide a pre-selecated defensive player and time field goals or punts as necessary.

The controlled player is constantly highlighted and during a defensive manoeuvre, (chasing an opposing player in possession of the ball, for instance) control often changes to that player closest to the ball.

At any time during the game, the Coaches' screen is accessed to show both team. This enables the player to call time-outs, cheack player statistics and alter the team line-up for different plays if needed.

Each position has a first and second string player: the computer automatically selects first string players, but for specialist situations (double tight end plays, for example) the second string players are required. The statistics reveal height, weight, experience and the relative speed and strength of each player.

The package's instructions detail the game's terminology, general rules and provide a full run-down on the types of plays, player positions and tactics.

S.J.
I enjoy watching the odd game of American football (4:00 Monday morning, Superbowl XXII!) but don't really class myself as a devout fanatic. However, the scant knowledge that I have of the game enabled me to enjoy 4th & Inches enormously.

Learning the different plays (and there are plenty) and interacting within the action as it unfolds is a genuinely exciting experience: on many occasions I found myself screaming at my red player in possession of the ball, desperately trying to urge him on as eleven blue shirrts came hurtling after him!

The mixture of calling tactical plays and effective hands-on control, make 4th & Inches really captivating to play, The graphic presentation is particularly well executed and although small, the footballer sprites are neat, adequately animated and extremely convincing.

The one single disappointing aspect of the whole program is the sound; the jingles and effects effects are all bearable, but very poor, and do little to increase the atmosphere. Even so, I can openly admit to playing 4th & Inches more then any other game this month. If you like American football, sports simulations, or just electrifying two-player action - 4th & Inches is a sure-fire winner.

Gordon Houghton
For the uninitiated, confusion will probably be the first reaction to 4th & Inches: just playing the game without reading the instructions leads to some heavy defeats. However, once you discover which moves to make and when to implement them, you soon experience the satisfaction of your first touchdown.

The presentation is superb: helpful instructions, intelligent computer control, touches of humour, access to player statistics and the ability to alter the game's parameters.

This attention to detail complements the appropriate if unspectacular graphical and aural effects. The sprites are stocky and smoothly animated: the effect of ten opponents thundering down on your man in possession is brilliant!

The sound effects are merely adequate, contributing atmosphere without embellishment (the tune before plays is particularly neat), and a few 'hut, ht!' sounds would have been welcome. Virtual freedom of movement is provided, giving a strong sense of control over actions without proving too complex, and in two-player mode this really comes into its own.

Flexible gameplay and superb presentation unite to create a realistic and enjoyable simulation; whether or not you're a fan of the sport, 4th & Inches should provide a great deal of long-term enjoyment.


INTRO SCREEN

PRESENTATION 93%
A wide range of useful options, unobtrusive selection method and an innovative screen switching techniquq
GRAPHICS 80%
Basic, but clear and colourful with good animation on the sprites.
SOUND 41%
Sparse but adequate sound effects, with weedy occasional jingles.
HOOKABILITY 83%
Easy to pick up and play, but difficult to pick up and win.
LASTABILITY 89%
Long term enjoyment is enhanced by a decent computer opponent and the superb two-player option.
OVERALL 90%
The most accomplished, entertaining and realistic American Football simulation to date.


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