Match Of The Day
Copyright/Publisher: Zeppelin Games, Coded By: Dave Sowerby, Additional Code By:
Ian Copeland, Graphics By: Neil Hislop, Designed By: Gareth Briggs &
Dave Sowerby, Release Year: 1992, Genre: Football/Soccer, Number Of Players: 1

One football programme on telly stands out as an all-time classic. Which one? Here's a clue - it's got Jimmy Hill and Desmond Lynham in it, and its initials are MOTD. Another clue - it's written below in hugh letters.

And it's half time here at Tranwell Park. Liverpool are trailing six - nil to James Leach, who slotted in all six, and also saved penalties from Barnes, Rush and Pelé... Ah well, we can but dream.

Anyway, while we're dreaming, we can load up Match of the Day, pausing only to stroke the lovingly-crafted BBC logo embellishing the front of the lavish box. Let your fingers drift over the beautifully-written note informing you that Match of the Day is a BBC trademark, then caress the fine... (Get on with it! - Ed.)

Er, right. The idean here is to take what is sometimes known in footballing circles as a 'completely rubbish' team - like Carlisle or Wrexham, for instance - and transform them into a world-beating side capable of hammering Bayern Munich, Red Star Belgrade and Dynamo Kiev in one go. Easy! Er... no it's not, actually. It's darned difficult.

The main menu for the game takes the form of a diary. You have to flick through the pages, making appointments. You can set up five appointments per day, starting at 9am and continuing every couple of hours to 5pm. You don't have to fill up every moment of your waking hours with these appointments, but as Brian 'the Brian' Clough always says, "You've got to give a hoondred per cent." Translated, this means you're a fool to yourself if you only make one appointment per day.

To get things rolling, all you need to do is drag icons across from the right-hand side of the screen and drop them into the correct time-slots on the diary. Then, when you're happy with your work schedule, you simply advance the time on until you start having these so-called meetings. When you get to them, the screen changes.

For example, if you've decided to meet the scout, you advance the time until the meeting, then, as if by magic, the scout appears in your office. You can then get him to do all sorts of interesting things, like checking out who's worth buying and who the biggest threats are on the other teams.

The realistic thing with this diary system is that you get people into your office and ask them to do things for you, then they agree, go away, and, some time later, they turn up and give you the results. So you've always got to be planning ahead and using your time efficiently. It's a novel twist to what's become a rather standard game format.

As the hours and days go by, you actually start to feel the pressure of the forthcoming match on Saturday. If you've got a couple of men injured, you'll tend to spend a lot of time trying to get them fixed up in time, which could mean that you're not hassling your guys to do enough training. It's a delicate balance, and justifies you having a massive Jaguar to drive, loads of chunky, gold jewellry to flash about and cigars the size of London tube trains.

Of course, the tension mounts to almost unbearable levels when Saturday finally comes around. Nine o'clock, and you're up and about with the larks. 11 o'clock, and the larks have got bored of you and have flown off to build a nest or something. One o'clock, and you can meet up with team for a light pre-match meal of roast beef and yorkshire pudding, washed down with several pints of Coke and a couple of massive slices of Black Forest gateau.

Three o'clock. Time to play. Your team waddle on to the pitch, having just woken up from a refreshing kip on the coach to let the meal go down. They put out their massive cigars and wait for the kick-off. The scene changesd to Jimmy Hill and Des Lynham sitting in a studio.

They natter for a bit, then show the goal-mouth highlights of your match. It's viewed from the top down, like Kick Off, and you get to see all the goals along with any classic saves or deflections. Exciting stuff indeed.

Overall, Match Of The Day is pretty good. It's a classy management sim, and, while it's tougher than most, you can have lots of fun with the flexibility of it, and the highlights bits are great. But at £9.99 you'd have to be seriously wealthy to throw that sort of dosh around on a management sim with knobs on.

THE DOWNERS
It's not an easy one to beat. One mistake and you're trailing 7-0.
You can't customise team names.
It's expensive for what you get.
There's no Premier Division.
THE UPPERS
The diary idea works well, giving you a lot of flexibility.
The game is quick with no embarrassing pauses while the computer ruminates.
Des Lynham and Jimmy Hill's comments on your team's performance are a laugh.
The highlights are good quality stuff, and you're never sure what the outcome is going to be.
All you need is a joystick and you can do everything.

INTRO SCREEN

POWER RATING 70%

Monday. Stayed in bed until 11am. Watched Playbus on the telly. Wrote a symphony of poems dedicated to Pandora. Being an intellectual can be such a draining experience.
Why the scout wears a white coat is beyond me. Perhaps he's moonlightning as an amateur psychologist and brain surgeon in his spare time. After some of the advice he's given me he needs a job on the side.
Trainer selection, eh? Well, if they haven't got any Nikes, I'll settle for a pair of Rebooks, thanks.
A clear shot at goal! Barnes shoots! And it's deflected! I'd stick to the day job with BBC news if I were you, Carol.
"Just what has happened to all the great teams, Des?" "They've all been swiped by Sky and we've been left with the pub table football league to cover, Jimmy."

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