Built in the U.S.A.

Cyberball logo

IN THE future man will live on Mars, drink Guinness and sit in front of the holo-tube of a Wednesday night watching the Cyberball.
This is a ruthless variant of that old favourite, American Football. In the future, however, the game is so violent and generally hazardous to life that it is exclusively played by robots.

This is a bit of a bonus really because at the end of a match the losing team gets disintegrated - it would be a bit of a bind for the home team to have to traipse off to the cemetery after a particularly humiliating defeat.

To begin with, one of the six teams of psychotic robots must be selected, two are in the practice league, the other four are pros. The practice league has only the basic plays available; the pro teams are allowed to be a bit more specialist, leaning towards either running or passing plays.

The rules are not quite the same as American football. The team on the offensive must usually cover a full fifty yards with the ball to get a "first down".

Added to that there is the problem of the ball. It's highly explosive. After five plays it becomes critical and detonates, destroying any player who was too close, unless the full distance is completed, in which case the ball will be defused and play starts again with a new bomb.

There is a conversion attempt after a touchdown is scored, but there is no kicking the ball. It may be run in or passed, with more points for the footwork than aeronautics, but beware - the ball is automatically set to critical.

Each play is selected on a menu system, with choices made by the joystick. There is a timeout on this selection process which will only leave a little time to construct your overall strategy - is this more like the real thing?
I don't know, I've never coached a squad of seven sworn to serve the god of mindless destruction.

The offensive plays are restricted to a choice of four running or four passing plays, chosen randomly from the list. This can be a bit annoying when you have a particularly strategy in mind - but there's no time to whine and mope about, choose quickly before the timer runs out.

Your bank balance will increase depending on how brilliantly you are playing. A few TDs (that's the abbreviation for Touchdown, not Irish MPs) will pay for a replacement player when they start going wonky.

This is a conversion of the arcade game, and little has been lost in the process - too little perhaps. In the arcade fast action is needed to keep people feeding money in.
In your own home there is nobody peering over your shoulder, smoking a roll-up and rattling the chains on his/her biking jacket (well, if there is they must be related to you). It is a bit of a disappointment that you are only allowed to complete one game, win or lose.

They may be more arcade than strategy, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, and at least it is faithful to the original coin-op.


Cyberball logo

DOMARK/TENGEN £19.99 * Joystick

American football is a strange game at the best of times - though it is enjoying something of a boom at the moment on this side of the Atlantic - but just imagine what it would be like if all the players were massive robots who would not look out of place in the comic 2000 AD. Domark's conversion of this Atari coin-op gives you the chance to find out.

The game contains six teams, two in the instruction league and four in the pro division and you play the part of a player/manager of one team. Each team contains a handful of robots and the game is played (more or less) with the conventional American Football rules. One team starts on offense and the other on defense. The offense team has to attempt to get the ball across the opposition's goal line and thereby score a touchdown. The defense, of course, have to stop them.

Play usually continues until the ball hits the ground, at which point it stops and the offense and defense line up again at the point where play stopped and go through the whole process again. There are, however, a few important differences, the biggest being the ball itself.
Normally, the offensive team have four attempts to move the ball at least 10 yards forward. In Cyberball there is no limit to how far the ball must go, but after every play the ball warms up and if it does not cross either the centre line or the goal line within four attempts, it blows up. This not only gives possession to the other team but it also does a great deal of damage to your robots.

The way to get your robots repaired is by either gaining possession of the ball or scoring some points, so try not to let too many get blown up, eh!

There are six periods to each game, each period lasts three minutes and as well as the clock ticking down during play, it also ticks down while deciding which plays to make. This is the manager side of things, when at every break in play you get the chance to choose the formations and try to outwit the opponents (both during defense and offense).

Crash and sack your way through the game and take on another opponent. In two player mode you and a mate can play on the same side and take on the computer team.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

There are some nice effects and bits of sampled speech. The graphics are good too and are very close to their coin-op parent. Fine in both departments.

LASTING INTEREST

It is not a laster. It will not take long to learn how to beat the other computer teams, which is a shame, things perk up when you play in two player mode - but not enough.

JUDGEMENT

A simple, playable and enjoyable game which has been well converted. It is not going to keep you going for months but it is good for short-term fun.


Cyberball logo

Sport ist Mord! Anno 2022 sehen das auch die Sponsoren ein und ersetzen sämtliche Football-Cracks durch überdimensionale Roboter - sollen die sich doch gegenseitig die Blechköpfe einschlagen...

Für die Zuschauer im 21sten Jahrhundert mag das ja recht unterhaltsam sein, am Amiga präsentiert sich Cyberball als Automatenumsetzung der öden Art: Die Grafik ist reichlich grob ausgefallen, und die Geräuschkulisse dürfte auch kaum begeisterte Anhänger finden. Alle Dinge, über die man hinwegsehen könnte, wenn nicht auch das Spielprinzip nur Durchschnittskost wäre.

Zunächst such man sich aus sechs Mannschaften die Roboter seines Vertrauens aus, dann geht es auf das etwas zu schmal geratene Feld, wo nach leicht abgewandelten American Football-Regeln um eine Blechkugel gerangelt wird.

Das geht so lange gut, bis sich die Kugel ordentlich aufgeheizt hat und den Blechkameraden um die Ohren fliegt. Sobald der Ball explodiert ist, sind die anderen an der Reihe. Dazwischen wird nach jedem misslungenen Pass, Out oder Ähnlichem auf einen Strategiescreen umgeschaltet, wo die nächsten Spielzüge geplant werden.

Die Steuerung der Robbies erfolgt wahlweise über Stick oder Tastatur, ist aber in beiden Modi gleichermaßen schwammig und ungenau.

Da hilft es auch nichts, daß sich die Programmierer in Detailfragen durchaus Mühe gegeben haben - der Robot im Ballbesitz ist gut zu erkennen, es gibt kurzfristig einen Turbo-Schub, um den Gegner stehen zu lassen, und defekte Kampfmaschinen können ausgewechselt werden - mir sind bei Cyberball nach kurzer Zeit nicht nur die Füße eingeschlafen! (ml)


Cyberball logo

Domark
Price: £19.99

Buck Rogers made it to the twenty-fifth century. American football lasts to the twenty-first. No more human players, just battle armoured robots slugging it out with an explosive ball and a lot of spare parts.

Some of the basic football rules stilly apply. Getting the ball into the opponent's end results in a touch-down, and there is a Quarterback, offence and defence and lots of different strategies.

The first significant change is the ball. It gets hotter and hotter until it explodes. In a normal game the attacking team has four attempts to move the ball forward ten yards, or the opposition gain possession. The idea is to move the ball forward towards a "Defuse", so cooling the ball down again while the attacking team steam forward.

On the offence you start by controlling the Quarterback. Avoid the oncoming defence and pass the ball to a receiver further up-field. Once the ball is released, control is given over the player most likely to complete the pass. Then it is a matter of getting as far up-field as possible.

Strategies are broken down into two groups, running and passing. Each group will have a different strategy according to their position on the field. A passing play is usually the most likely to succeed, though it is impossible to predict the sort of distance you will gain. However a running play usually gives you the distance you want, though it is tough to successfully instigate one.

Defence is broken down into short, medium and long plays, corresponding to the sort of distance you are expecting the opposition to try for. For instance, a short play would be good for getting in really close and sacking the Quarterback; if it fails there is every chance of a long break for the offence.

Scoring and completing plays earns the team money, essential when you run a team that is prone to exploding and breaking down. It is pretty difficult trying to play when you cannot afford to field a full one.

Cyberball offers an interesting alternative to the traditional sports game. There is enough American footy to keep it recognisable, and enough variety to keep it interesting. An ambitious idea which is pretty good fun in the lean period between football seasons.
The only problem it really suffers from is a lack of speed. All told it is enjoyable but I can see it growing stale in the not-too-distant future.


Cyberball logo

Domark, Amiga £19.99

If you think American Football is a tough game now, you ain't seen nothing yet. By the year 2022 it has got so violent it can only be played by huge robots: the last human to play the game was tragically decapitated by a face-masking violation in his farewell match!

As in present-day gridiron, the offence tries to advance the ball up the field with the eventual aim of scoring a touchdown. However, instead of having four chances to advance ten yards they have to reach the 'defuse line' before the ball explodes! The offence can choose to run, pass, or do an option play, then choose from four alternatives (automatically selected for the current situation from a total of over a hundred offensive plays such as 'Cheap Hooker', 'Thrust', and 'Wham-bam). Similarly the defence gets to choose from a variety of short, medium, and long defences.

On all plays, the quarterback first gets the ball before handing or passing it to a colleague to whom control switches. When passing, the quarterback has a choice of three targets to throw to. All players have a turbo-boost for extra speed but this can only be used once per play.

Cyberball is such a tough game that even robots aren't immune from damage: they can be destroyed by being tackled too much or when in possession of an exploding ball! Damaged robots cost hard cash to prelace - this is earned by scoring points: two for a safety (tackling an opponent in his own endzone) and six for a touchdown. Field goals are not allowed and instead of kicking touchdown conversions you must either run (for 2pts) or pass (1pt) the ball into the endzone from a goal-line position.

There are six teams to choose from including two of the easier instructional standard. Disappointingly, there is no human vs human option, although two players can play for the same team against a computer side.


Phil King This is no TV Sports Football but still very playable all the same. I appreciated the huge variety of humorously named plays and the neat presentation with robotic speech and detailed diagrams of each robot type. The action is far easier to get into than TV Sports with a simple method of passing, although this ultimately proves limiting. What really disappointed me was the omission of a competitive two-player option, as although the team-mates mode is fun the computer opponents are far too easy to defeat. And with the lack of a league competition there's no real challenge to keep you interested.
Scorelord In my games co-operative gameplay usually ended in violence, with Phil refusing to pass the ball to me merely because I may have dropped it once or twice! Certainly, it takes a bit of getting used to, with bulky robots to manoeuvre through a formidable defence line. The game is a little sluggish, but you soon get used to it and it's a fun mix of arcade action and strategy. The game never succeeded in the arcades, because it was simply too complex for the average Robin-type arcade freak. In the slightly more thoughtful home computer market it should prove a lot more popular.