Already a big name in Italy, Simulmondo have just begun their UK invasion with
a brand new distribution deal. After Soccer we can expect Formula 1 3D and
GP Tennis Mananger very soon with many other titles in development. Apparently in
Italy the only games machine that matter are the Amiga and C64. Sensible people!
This ambitios 3-D perspective was first attempted by MicroProse's shortlived
MicroStyle label with International Soccer Challenge. Much hyped, with a C64 version
dismissed as 'impossible', the finished Amiga game moved at a crawl and got just
45% (Issue 68.)
Simulmondo's C64 game is not only faster and more playable, it also features an
incredible split-screen simultaneous two-player mode. After Gremlin's Sizzling
Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge it seems there's nothing the C64 can't do!
There's more to the game than graphics though: comprehensive options begin
with a choice of languages and lead on to team selection. Dozens of teams are on
offer, everything from Ajax to Everton to Torpedo Moscow! How many of them enter
the championship is up to you, for a two-player match you might decide just two
teams is enough to decide things in a single game.
For a bigger challenge you can enter all the teams! You also decide whether the
teams are computer-controlled or human-controlled. On human-controlled sides you
get fixed control of just one player. However there is an option for human-controlled
players to be on the same side, player cooperatively.
But what happens if two human teams go against each other, and one team has
two human players. Where do you plug the third joystick? - C'mon, be realistic,
there are some limits to Simulmondo's brilliance! Instead the two-player team
switches to one player, so it's a fairly standard one-to-one situation.
And if only one human is playing, the second player's screen disappears and a
chinwagging (but silent) announcer watches over the proceedings. Before each
match a game options screen comes up. Dumbos can simply click on 'Go' and be
straight into the game.
But sneaky tacticians such as Phil might want to vary the length of the match
(ten options, from 2 to 45 minutes), set the difficulty level (ten settings),
select which player in the team you control (anyone but the goalie!) and turn
on/off whether your man flashes (oo-er!) to help you keep track of him.
Once the game begins you can choose to play sensibly, marking a player and
keeping in some kind of some zone, or alternatively you can act like everyone
else - constantly legging it after the ball over the whole pitch.
Since you're stuck with one player, it's quite easy to lose sight of the ball
as the action speeds off somewhere else (probably through the defensive gap you
left!). The radar scanner is useful then, although most often you simply follow the
The main way of getting the ball is pressing fire for a bone-crunching sliding
tackle. The ref can award fouls, but thankfully doesn't give yellow cards or send
anyone off. Alternatively if one of your own players has the ball you can get him to
pass it to you by holding down fire and pulling down on the joystick.
This works well with some very accurate passing, but you need to be sensible when
you do it otherwise the pass will be intercepted. Once you get insdie the penalty
box you can jab the fire button for a quick pass, or hold down fire to shoot. If
you score you can press the Commodore key for a brief replay (complete with
frame-by-frame forward/reverse play).
If you're bought down in the box a penalty is awarded which you can choose to
take yourself or give to another player. There's also throw-ins, corner kicks, extra
time and penalty shoot-outs!
On the negative side there's no substitutions, just one basic team formation
and no save/load option for those massive league challenges. Also, although the
map works well for one player, for the other player it's reversed - until you
get the hang of it you can spend ages wandering in completely the wrong direction,
only coming across the ball by accident!
These are relatively minor faults though, the blocky graphics work well with some
nice kicks and a good turn of speed - it's as fast as most overhead-view games!
Although occasionally confusing, there's a great sense of being in amongst
all the action.
There's a very realistic sense of panic as someone heads toward your goal,
neatly side-stepping your bloodthirsty tackles. More surprisingly, snappy passing
makes for a good tactical feel: it really does seems as if you're 'interacting'
with the other players. For once the hype seems justified - 'I Play' is supposed
to mean the player, the 'I', is completely brought into the action.
Over the longer term the lack of tactical options and a comprehensive league,
plus the ease with which you can win the cup (just enter two teams), may limit
single-player lastability. However as a two-player game 3D Soccer finally approaches
the fun of Amiga Kick Off with a very different game style.