Italy 1990
Copyright/Publisher: US Gold, Release Year: 1990,
Genre: Football/Soccer, Number Of Players: 1 or 2

Although Virgin have the official World Cup licence, US Gold can claim a share of the action due to obscure rights hanging over from their dire 1986 effort, World Cup Carnival.

Software veterans will remember that as being an ancient Artic game resurrected for the purpose and hidden inside lots of fancy packaging. Thankfully US Gold have got a new game this time, although there's still plenty of bumf. An attractive 64-page booklet covers all the teams, provides biographies of legendary players, past and potential, plus a short trivia quiz.

But what of the game itself? Well you can choose either to participate in the tournament, choosing a team out of the accurate list of qualifiers, or play a one or two-player friendly. In tournament mode you can choose your team from a full squad, and select formations.

The actual game is presented from an overhead view (slightly slanted on the Amiga) with multi-directional scrolling. Once a player has the ball it stays pretty much stuck to him, unless it is kicked by him or from him by another player. Holding down fire affects the strength of a kick, together with that player's strength. (Players names are displayed on screen with the Amiga.)

Tackles are made either by getting as close as possible to another player and relying on your player's skill, or using a sliding tackle which can be misinterpreted as a foul!

For Amiga owners there's animated screens showing a side-on view of corners and goal kicks, which thankfully requires no disk accessing. And once the kick is made the game switches to the normal view to show the kick again! There's also a behind-the-shooter view of penalties.

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Both games are fairly good, the animted scenes in the Amiga game are quite nice to look at and don't slow the game down.

On the debit side dribbling is completely unrealistic with the ball being stuck to your foot. Given a fairly fast player you can evade practically all opposition, which is extremely irritating for the opposing player. Practice can counter this problem, but while this game is fun for a while it can't compare with Kick Off.

The C64 game benefits from being slower as tackles are therefore much easier, giving the game a more realistic feel. Again dribbling is unrealistic, but while it's nowhere near as much as MicroProse Soccer, it's not too far behind for playability and the World Cup fixtures are accurate. Pity about the price though.

PHIL
This ain't no Kick Off but it does have some simple playability all the same. And most importantly it incorporates all the official World Cup teams and fixtures (unlike the official Virgin licence!).

You even get to pick your players from a full squad to suit your style of play and the opposition. What lets the game down a bit is the match action. Without a Kick Off-style radar, accurate passing is difficult.

And with the ball stuck to your foot you can do Maradona-type dribbling without needing much real skill. This makes tackling very difficult, so matches often have unrealistically high scorelines. I also found it a bit too easy to win the Cup. Having said that, this is still an infinitely better World Cup game than the official effort.


INTRO SCREEN

PRESENTATION 80%
Good packaging, save/load tournament, one or two-player friendly match options. Ability to pick team members and formations in tournament mode.
GRAPHICS 67%
Unremarkable sprites, but effective and scrolling is good.
SOUND 58%
Okay title tune and sparse FX.
HOOKABILITY 70%
Very easy to get into...
LASTABILITY 60%
...but not that difficult to beat. Two-player mode fun for a while.
OVERALL 66%
Quite good fun.


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