Copyright/Publisher: Empire, Release Year: 1990,
Genre: Football/Soccer, Number Of Players: 1 to 8
I can't help feeling Empire have scored a spectacular own-goal with Soccer Stars -
any computer football buff keen enough to buy four soccer games in one compilation
is bound to have a couple of them already. Still, they haven't done too bad a job
of choosing the games - Soccer Stars features two of the best footy games ever
released on the 64, one reasonably good game, and one dud that only sold on its licence.
Basically, there are two types of soccer: the Kick Off-style, overhead-view type
and the 3-D 'view from the terraces' ones. Emlyn Hughes International Soccer (90%,
Issue 43) is as good an example of the latter as you could wish for.
Ball movement is astonishingly realistic and the host of extra features and
options don't slow down gameplay at all. Emlyn Hughes is a game you can play at
any level, from the most basic kick-and-run bash to a complex strategic game.
Far too many sports sims that emphasise options pay a high price in terms of
playability - not so with Emlyn Hughes! An excellemt menu system makes them instantly
accessible, making it one of the most addictive and enduring footy games on the
On the negative side, the graphics aren't anything to write home about and the
sound effect are totally useless. But these quibbles didn't stop it from scoring a
Sizzler in 1988, and it hasn't really dated since then.
Another Sizzler, Micro Prose Soccer (90%, Issue 46) is played on a vertically
scrolling pitch viewed from above. Again an options extravaganza, this one can be
played by up to 16 players at a time! Thankfully, it also has a Save Game option
for when you can't finish that long tournament before bedtime.
In addition to basic tackling, passing and dribbling you can volley the ball forward,
chip it backwards over your head, and even perform banana benders! The menu system
isn't as friendly as Emlyn, but graphics and sound are far superior - given the
choice I'd rather play Emlyn Hughes, but that doesn't stop MicroProse Soccer from
being the best overhead-view soccer game seen on the C64.
Kick it off||
Alas, at this point the compilation goes downhill. Kick Off 2 isn't a bad game
in its own right, but even though it was released over a year later than MicroProse,
it makes no real advances on its illustrious predecessor.
Ball movement is far from realistic, with the scrolling pitch often failing
to keep up. Coupled with the unintelligent computer-controlled players who run
away from the ball as often as towards it, this makes for a very frustrating game.
Presentation is good, with a whole host of options, but there's nothing here that
grabs you by the throat and screams, 'play me'. If Kick Off 2 is a good game that
falls flat against a better one, Gazza II is an unmitigated disaster that would be
the unwelcome duffer in any compilation.
Featuring similar but inferior, gameplay to MicroProse and Kick Off, Gazza II
incorporates an idiot management routine, boring tactics controls, and very
If that wasn't enough, the lack of a league severely limits its long-term appeal.
I can't say that I enjoyed the sideways approach, much prefering a vertical pitch.
On the plus side, the computer-controlled players are reasonably intelligent and the
kicking power-mater is fairly friendly, but this doesn't stop Gazza II from
being the worst in the pack. Perhaps they named it after Gazza beacuse it'll bring
tears to your eyes.
I can't understand why Empire would want to release a compilation like this. If
each game put a different perspective on computer soccer, fair enough, but three
of the games feature almost identical gameplay. Besides, only two of the four games
put in first-team performances, with Kick Off being a reasonable substitute.
Gazza II wouldn't even make the reserves!
If you already have Emlyn Hughes and MicroProse Soccer, Soccer Stars is a complete
waste of time. If you only have one of them, buy the other as a full-price game.
If you have neither, it just MIGHT be worth buying this compilation.