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Italy 1990 logo

US GOLD £24.99 * Joystick

I Italy ‘90 f things carry on as they have been with everyone and his cat releasing World Cup games, then no one will be able to get away from their machines long enough to watch the actual event! The latest game to arrive is from US Gold (do not mention World Cup Carnival!) and comes in the usual ‘view from almost above’ mode of play.

You can choose to play any of the teams taking part in the competition, with all teams adhering to a seeding system. The difficulty of the game depends on how strong your selected team is. For example, selecting a team such as Italy or Brazil will make your job of reaching the final and claiming the cup pretty easy, whereas picking someone like Egypt makes things a little tougher! Once you have a team to represent, the playing formation and team list is set up, then it is off to the game!

The form of the competition closely follows the World Cup itself. That is, three qualifying matches have to be played, with the top two teams from each group going through to the second round. From then on the game is played as a straight knockout.
Maff Evans
Amiga Format, Issue 12, July 1990, p.52

Italy 1990 is very well presented. The intro screens are colourful and nicely drawn, and there are some nifty touches such as the TV presenter outlining the forthcoming action. The graphics in the game itself are of a similarly high standard. The sprites move effectively around the smooth scrolling pitch, and extras such as the animated scoreboard and touchline-view goal-kicks add to the atmosphere. The music is jolly enough, but the in-game effects do not consist of much more than a few thuds and whistles. Where is the joyous Italian crowd? Gone home, it seems.

Romping through the competition to take the cup is rather easy if you play as one of the top seed teams, but just try taking the United Arab Emirates into the final and you will find that it is a totally different ball game! The other teams will not hesitate to stomp all over you. This kind of challenge will have you plugging away until at least the World Cup final has been televised.

Anyone who remembers US Gold’s last ‘official’ World Cup release may be a little dubious about Italy 1990. However this hesitation is unfounded, since US Gold have put their footy trouble behind them and have come up trumps with an amusing, well presented and superbly playable footy game. The wealth of teams and players gives the game a healthy amount of variety to keep players interested, and even if you do get bored, you can always keep yourself occupied with the World Cup Trivia book included in the package until the next game is on telly!


Italy 1990 logo

PRICE: £24.99

F Italy ‘90 our weeks of football and films, with plenty of the Arsenal lads in action, a six pack of San Miguel and a fanzine by my side. Yes, the world cup is here again! Lock up the disbelievers and chain yourself to the TV. Or perhaps try a pre-tournament warm up with one of the many World Cup games currently assaulting the shops.
US Gold’s last sorte in this field was World Cup Carnival. A pretty hideous attempt at a football game, but it did have nice packaging. Italy 1990 on the other hand contains only the necessary instructions and Cup trivia booklet, but the game itself is a darn good crack at a footy sim.

All the participating teams have been included, as have all the players. Each side is rated statistically according to the average ability of the players in the squad. Kicking out Bobby, I eased myself into the manager’s hot seat for England’s opening match against Ireland.
Setting the traditional England’s 4-4-2-perhaps-we-might-get-near-the-goal formation I did my best to cram anyone connected with Arsenal into the squad, while ditching anybody who has ever been near White Hart Lane. This was not due to any personal bias, you understand, just skilful management. Eventually I got together a team to field in the big match.

As with most footie sims, the view is from above the pitch, and the game scrolls up and down. For the player control the programmers have gone back to basics. Point your player in the right direction, and the length of time you press the fire button determines the strength of the kick. This time this control method works really well. It is easy to cross and passes can be kicked with pinpoint accuracy.

Initially the opposing teams are not too tough. As with the real World Cup in England’s group there is Egypt, Ireland and Holland – all (relative) push overs. The only real thing that spoils the football section is the scrolling. It is jerky and so are the players’ actions, although after a bit, it is not really noticeable.

Corners and goal kicks are shown from behind the player in control of the ball. This does not effect the play at all, but it breaks the routine of a normal football game. Penalties are also shown from this angle too, although it is really difficult gauging your shot from this position. There are other neat touches, such as the Bruce Willis look-alike commentator and some quiet useful information screens.

Inevitably somebody will compare this to Kick Off. That is a tad unfair, because that game is a classic of its genre. Instead I am going to recommend Italy 1990 as the perfect warm up to the World Cup, although I cannot imagine lasting any longer than that.

Mark Patterson
CU Amiga, June 1990, p.p.44-45

Italy 1990 logo

US Gold, C64 £12.99 cassette, £17.99 disk; Amiga £24.99
Italy 1990 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 to show the kick again! There's also a behind-the-shooter view of penalties.

Zzap! Issue 63, July 1990, p.17

Phil King 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.

Scorelord Both games are fairly good, the animated 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 fun as MicroProse Soccer, it's not too far behind for playability and the World Cup fixtures are accurate. Pity about the price though.


Good packaging, save/load tournament, one or two-player friendly match options. Ability to pick team members and formations in tournament mode.
Unremarkable sprites, but effective and scrolling is good.
Okay title tune and sparse FX.
Very easy to get into...
…but not that difficult to beat Two-player mode fun for a while.

Quite good fun.


Same as C64 plus 'silent' commentator for intro/outro.
Slanted view allows more detail than on the C64, plus some neat goal kick, corner kick and penalty animated scenes.
Mediocre tunes and minimal FX.
Fairly easy to get into.
A bit tougher than the C64 game.

Quite playable and a lot better than the official version.