Subbuteo
Copyright/Publisher: Goliath Games, Programmed By: Richard Walker,
Release Year: 1991, Genre: Football/Soccer, Number Of Players: 1 or 2

For years now, apparently normal people have been shunting small plastic football figurines around a felt pitch in the name of fun. Nevertheless, this bizarre practice is as popular as it ever was, and has now made the transition from tabletop to computer relatively unscathed.

For those uninitiated with the mystical ways of Subbuteo, the game is normally played on a large felt pitch and, using similar rules to humanoid football, the players flick the playing pieces (small Lineker effigies mounted on hemispherical bases) in order to score goals. In the 64 version the pitch is accurately reproduced but the players appear as small blobs on a plan view of the pitch.

When you're in possession of the ball, the directional control of the playing piece is mcuh the same as many of the snooker simulations around. A marker has to be rotated around the player to determine the direction of the shot, after which two bars appear.

Modulate these to set the power and spin of the flick to be played. This may sound simple in theory but it's easy to mis-flick the player and send him careering in a large ungainly arc, totally missing the ball. If this occurs, or the ball hits an opposing player, or your player touches an opponent, possession is lost.

Each time a player attacks, the defending party is given an opportunity to move his pieces into a better defensive position, thus preventing any one player from keeping possession indefinitely.

This is basically the same method by which all mini-footballing moves are carried out. But despite this slow progression of moves, this metgod of play does yield a remarkably realistic game of Subbuteo.

Once you've got the hang of it you can take advantage of the three skill levels available or play in a league against either the computer or up to eight of your friends. If you choose to play the computer league you also have the option to either watch the computer v computer matches or just skip to the results (viewing matches can get as tiresome as seeing the 800th crying Gazza T-shirt drift past).

Other useful options include being able to change the length of any match (anything from one to forty five minutes per half), view fixtures, view league or save league. Everything you need, in fact.

The basic graphics don't really let Subbuteo down when you think that fancy screens would be wasted with a game more tactical than action packed. What a first seems like dull gameplay soon becomes completely engrossing. It's get the kind of appeal that should last all season.

For that completely unrealistic soccer atmosphere, you can have the moody soundtrack thumping away. Alternatively, you can simply savour spot effects.

For the football purists who are left cold by the action type soccer sims around, this may be exactly what the doctor ordered, a tactical brain teaser than comes closer to a skilful match than a friendly kick about in the park. Hardened Subbuteo freaks won't be insulted by this careful conversion to computer but they may not get overly excited either. It would be wise to try before you buy and if you like what you see, get out on the pitch and flick ass.

DOWNERS
Bland visuals are unappealing.
Lack of a realistc 3D enviroment could prove dissapointing to fans of the real thing.
UPPERS
As faithfully reproduced as it could have been.
Flick system requires skill but has been very well implemented.
Challenging league option.
Multi player facility allows a barrel of laughs with friends.
Tactical gameplay is a welcome break from arcade-like footie.
Three difficulty levels ensure plenty of extra time.
Computer opponent also makes mistakes, making gameplay more realistic.
Adjustable game length is a real sanity saver.
Oodles of game-changing options to sustain the interest.

INTRO SCREEN

POWER RATING 79%

Wot a swanky stop watch, this useful item allows you to change the duration of the match.

The red team are making a stunning attack up the left wing - and is destined not to make it.

That streak isn't a printing fault but an action shot of the blue team making a pass..WOW!

The sort of play that gives the game a bad name. Unlike real Subbuteo, you can't argue with the ref.


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