It's Cricket logo

Aah, the crack of leather on willow. No, it's not the latest scandal involving a Tory minister. It's Cricket - literally. Tina Hackett is your umpire.


The game of cricket - what could be nicer on a warm summer's afternoon than pottering along to the local pavilion to watch the village team or maybe even partaking in a game yourself? It's a nice image, but being in good old England we don't get many warm summer's afternoons so what better way to enjoy the sport than from the comfort of your armchair in front of the monitor.

This in mind, it is perhaps rather surprising that there haven't been many computer cricket games. In fact, the only good one that springs to mind is Audiogenic's Graham Gooch. But this could all be set to change. Team 17 are working on their more arcadey Final Over cricket game and now we also have Grandslam's latest contribution. But will it really bowl you over?



The introduction for the game is a loud dancey tune, but what is really impressive on the sonic front though is the speech samples. These have been taken from match commentary so you get things like "It's in the air" or "He's out." and these phrases fit in with the action and give an authentic feel.

The crowd effects work well too with cheers, boos and the like going off when appropriate, all helping to create a good international cricket atmosphere.




I must say I was slightly confused by the graphics for It's Cricket - I mean, when I saw the batting or bowling screens I was impressed. They are nicely set out, the sprites are large and well-animated and the stadium is detailed. But (and this is a big but) when the fielding screen came up it looked absolutely abysmal. The sprites are tiny and very basic and took me back to graphics from about ten years ago! It just looked very strange - like two different games.

At the beginning, not surprisingly, are the title sequences, which show a selection of digitised pictures containing cricket memorabilia. This is a very nice touch that cricket fans are bound to love. The pictures are used throughout the game to select your players and they give the game a more human touch rather than having to choose from a lot of facts and figures. You can also put in your own images by using a paint package.

The different animated squences that appear throughout the game work well, such as Umpire decisions, and there's even a rather strange but realistic animation of a duck for, you guessed it, no runs scored.




Overall this game just didn't work in the playability stakes. The bowling aspect is okay, as is the batting, but the fielding is absolutely dreadful. Once the batsman has hit the ball you then get an overhead view of the rest of the field. If you're on the bowling side you have to pick a fielder, move him to where the ball is probably going to land and then he will throw the ball back. This is very fiddly and tedious and it's more a case of guesswork than actual skill.

The bowling isn't too bad - you get to pick whether you want to bowl the ball around or over the wicket and then you can choose whether you want spin or not. Pace or spin bowling is determined by the player's attribute in the Player's Profile.

This works well enough but after a while would become rather repetitive. The batting part is quite nice though - once you've remembered which controls do what. There are 12 moves available and you press the joystick once, twice or three times followed by up, down, left or right depending on the shot you want. This method allows for some really nice moves to be executed.

The game has its good points, such as having plenty of player stats which should go down well with the real cricket buffs, and it is also expandable for future add-ons. However, despite some nice graphics, a great cricketing atmosphere and some cleverly used speech-samples, the fielding aspect lets the whole thing down. A shame.

It's Cricket logo

Steve Bradley desperately wanted to bowl a maiden over, but we told him to review this new cricket game from Grandslam instead...

Presumably timed to coincide with England's glorious attempt to wrestle the Ashes from the Australians, urn now safely in the Aussie's hands, the curiously-titled, It's International Test Series Cricket arrives when most of us can but dream of the sound of leather on willow.

Audiogenic's Graham Gooch's Cricket has monopolised the Amiga cricket scene with its chunky graphics and frantic, if flawed, gameplay. Grandslam (or rather, Nightowl software) have approached this (let's called it IIC) with slightly more religious fervour.

The nine Test countries contain pictures of each player, but none of the player's names are on the picture. A real pain when you have to pick a Sri Lankan bowler to trot in from the pavilion end.

There are two types of bowler, spin and speedmeister. Spin offers four mouse-controlled options including the delightfully titled wrong 'un, yet when battling the computer teams it seems more a case of damage limitation, for no mater how short you pitch the ball, the batsmen simply step forward and nudge it or sweep it majestically across the turf.

In two-player mode, it's all too easy to opt for seam straight at the stumps, limiting your opponent's choice of shots and dismissing a team for less than 30.

Batting is tough. After the ball has been delivered, you have a couple of seconds to select one of 12 strokes. First you have to shuffle toward the ball then press the joystick button, one, two or three times followed by up, down, left or right. The timing must be split second to connect with a decent strike.

Fielding is equally fiddly. First you shift the mouse pointer over a player, click on him, shift over to the ball and click again to get the chap to hotfoot to its position. Ball collected, you position a wobbly arrow over the stumps and hope to run the batsmen out.

It's certainly more thoughtful than Gooch yet IIC is untidy. The graphics are sparse and the sound is awful. IIC is a step in the right direction but only the bowling stands the playability test.

Nightowl are planning add-on disks and if they tweak the gameplay, IIC could be a force in the future. Still, I would sooner play this than Gooch.


Graham Gooch's Cricket has appeared in four guises (Graham Gooch's World Class Cricket, Second Innings, Test Match Special & Battle for the Ashes), including data disks, and despite its handsome appearance, bugs still proliferate. Fielders occasionally chuck the ball to the wrong end and certain types of bowling scupper the batsmen. But it remains the benchmark for the cricket simulation.

Some will prefer It's Cricket, undoubtedly (I do), but Gooch is fabulously playable. Cricket fans should get both, but don't expect perfection, just the best available for the Amiga.

It's Cricket logo

Best original game name of the year award goes to...

You know how there are certain types of games that you like playing? Some people like shoot-'em-ups and some like platform games. Well, personally I'm a bit of a sports fan. It's probably got something to do with me being merely okay-ish at most sports in real life, and yet actually quite good at them in their digitised form. Fotball, tenis, American football, rugby, boxing, table-tennis, ten-pin bowling... you name it, I can play it.

One sport that hasn't really got right, though, is cricket. Graham Gooch's Cricket is the only one worth playing, but even that's flawed to frustration. And so, even though I'd heard nothing about It's Cricket until today, I was excited nonetheless. I suppose I should've known better.

As most of you know, there are three main parts to playing cricket. There's the batting, the bowling and, of course, the fielding. The reason I point this out is that this It's Cricket breaks up the action. So let's analyse each bit in turn.

To start with, the ball has to be bowled. The screen flips to show you the bowler and his end of the wicket. From here you've fot a couple of options to choose from. (Bowling is controlled by the mouse.)

Firstly, do you want to come over or around the wicket? And secondly, what type of ball you're going to bowl. Once that's done, you flip to the batsman and position a small target on the ground which is where the ball will end up.
Now the batting...

You can see where the ball is going to land, and know you've got to decide on your shot. There are twelve shots available to you: four for the different positions of the joystick (up, down, left or right) and three different sets of shots for each time you press the fire button.

Press the fire button three times and then press down for a straight drive, or just press it once and right for a leg glance. Initially you'll have problems remembering which shot is which, but repetition will soon remedy that situation. With any luck, and some skill, you'll hit the ball and send it out into the field...

One style that works almost all the time

The ball is on its way. You can see it moving. All you've got to do now is stop it. Pick a player and then select a position on the field to move him to. It's best if you move him to where the ball is. And then throw the ball at the wicket, either to stop play or try to run out a batsman.

And so that's the game. Explained. But how does it play? Here's another breakdown of how those various parts work...

Well, he bowling is fine. It's just rather dull. I spent ages trying to get people out, eventually finding one style that works almost all the time. In fact, out of ten wickets, nine of them were stumped by the wicketkeeper. A bit more variety in the style of batsmen, and the odd mistake, would make it so much better. And speaking of batsmen, batting is great fun. The shot selection bit does take quite a while to perfect, but once you've sussed out how to control it, you can do some really nice shots.

But there's no real point to all of this because of the one major flaw in the game: the fielding. It's crap, frankly. Selecting a player, and then moving him without knowing where the ball is going to stop just takes too much time, is too random and gives your opponent (computer or human) too much of an advantage as you fumble with the controls.

And when the computer fields, it automatically knows where the ball is going to be, and doesn't have to worry about all this clicking on a player, clicking on where it wants him to run to and clicking on the wicket.

So what conclusions can we draw from this? Well, it's the familiar story of okay bits mixed up with dodgy bits. The graphics are cool (except for the Football Manager-style fielding) and the sampled speech is equally good with lots of examples, and there is a strong cricketing atmosphere. But the poorly-handled fielding just kind of puts you off the whole thing. Damn. And I really wanted to like this as well.

It's Cricket logo

Price: £26.99 Publisher: Grandslam 0181 680 7044

Audiogenic have, up until now, been the only company to offer the Amiga users anything in the way of cricket simulations, but thanks to an Australian development team and Grandslam, that's about to change.

The first thing that grabs you about ITS Cricket is its choice of presentation. Opting for a more realistic style, digitised graphics and sampled sound effects are utilised, and though it gives the game a somewhat unique feel, it somehow lacks polish. The animations are too jerky to warrant their use over traditional sprites, and the samples tend to just drop in and out without too much care for continuity, sound quality or volume.

However, the gameplay within ITS does offer interesting control systems for both bowling and batting sides. Bowling is controlled by mouse, with a number of options such as over or around wicket deliveries, along with leg-spin, of-spin, straight, etc. depending upon the currently active bowler.

Batting is via the joystick (which allows two-player games to flow, only stopping to swop joystick for mouse after the full innings) with a Mortal Kombat-like combination of firing and directions to execute ay of the twelve strokes available.

Other than that, batting is all down to good timing (and luck) while any real good shots are rewarded by Ozzie commentators' grunts of approval.

The fielding is the weakest aspect of play, with a clumsy mouse selector first picking a fielder, and then where you want him to run. Once the ball is collected, the cursor then freaks out, making it deliberately difficult for you to throw back to the wickets.

I've yet to be impressed by a cricket game, and ITS was no different. It's a shame the presentation, in my opinion, is so unattractive because the control system is quite nice. I can't see anyone getting excited by this other than the real cricket fanatics.