Rugby The World Cup
Copyright/Publisher: Domark, Program & Graphics By: Walking Circles,
Music By: The Vibrants, Release Year: 1990, Genre: Rugby, Number Of Players: 1 to 16

Contrary to popular opinion, the game of rugby was not invented by schoolboy William Webb Ellis, but instead began when one of my equally rotund ancestors sat on a football and squasef it into the now familiar oval shape.

From humble beginnings rugby union has evolved into a truly international sport, spanning such vastly diverse cultures as Western Samoa, the USA and even Wales! Every four years, the best sixteen internatioal teams come from far and wide to play for the World Cup - the world's biggest sporting event after the Olympics and the Soccer World Cup.

In Domark's official version of this prestigious tournament, the human/computer-controlled teams are split into four groups of four: the top two from each go through to the quarter finals. Other options allow you to play a friendly and alter match length.

The match action is shown from directly overhead with tiny Kick Off-style players running around the huge scrolling pitch. It's so big and your players so slow, that you can 'run' for ages and get nowhere near your opponent's end!

A small radar scanner shows exactly where you are, which is just as well, as the pitch has few markings - it's mostly just a vast expanse of plain green. Another graphical disappointment is the lack of accurate team colours: the two sides always play in black or white shirts.

Sadly, gameplay sophistication is no better with many standard rugby features missing. Why, there aren't even any penalties - so England would have no chance of scoring! There are line-outs and (odd-looking) scrums, of course, but no choice of tactical moves as in World Class Rugby.

Instead, both simply involve rapid joystick waggling. There are no mauls or rucks, only set scrums, and it's difficult to get the ball out of these as the scrum half is often tackled before he can pass the ball out to the backs. So you usually get a long series of scrums, getting nowhere.

Once the ball does get into open play it's not much better. Accurate passing is easily acieved by pressing fire with left or right, but clever running moves are virtually impossible due to the players' poor positioning.

This lack of intelligence carries over to tackling with 'cowardly' defenders often running away from the ball-carrier! Defending against a computer team is almost impossible, and when you do get near the ball-carrier he lobs a massive, perfect pass way over to the other side of the field.

The inevitable try is followed by a conversion attempt, and a change of view to just behind the enlarged kicker. A white cursor moves sporadically left/right; press fire when it's between the posts to score - dead easy.

Kicking during open play is achieved by pressing forward or diagonally forward with fire held down to determine the strength, but you never have enough time to do a long positional kick so it's an ineffective tactic.

If you really want to kick something, I suggest booting this slow, woefully inaccurate simulation into touch.

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Despite, or because, of a few tries scored on the old rugger pitch at school I can't claim to be much of a rugger fan. Although broken bones, teeth and so forth may be an acceptable risk in some things, when it's the whole point of the game I raise an eyebrow.

Initially Domark's rugby looks goods, with lots of tiny sprites running around much like Amiga Kick Off. There's an attractive screen for the conversion kicks and an effective radar scanner. Unfortunately the game soon breaks down into a series of repetitive scrums - getting the ball out takes ages and lots of frantic joystick waggling, then when you do get the ball out the man is soon tackled.

Time and time again passing takes an agonising couple of seconds which are soon lost under a mass of forwards. After a few games I felt the real thing couldn't be any more exhausting, and certainly a lot more fun.


INTRO SCREEN

PRESENTATION 44%
Surprisingly few options, for friendlies you can only choose from eight teams.
GRAPHICS 46%
Slow, tiny players on a featureless pitch. Attractive conversion screen.
SOUND 48%
Okay title tune, simple in-game FX.
HOOKABILITY 42%
Crude action lacks many rugby features. Even two-player matches are tedious.
LASTABILITY 34%
The virtual invincibility of computer teams makes the World Cup tournament a washout.
OVERALL 36%
Unrealistic and unplayable.


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