John Barnes European Football logo

The European Football Championships are over and we lost again, nothing new there. What a disaster! It's enough to make you run out into the street and burn your collection of footie games as a public statement. But before you do, you'll want to know whether or not John Barnes European Football is worth buying, just to make the bonfire complete.

Needs 1 Meg It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, when Krisalis decided to go for good ol' Johnny as their choice of front man for their European Championships tie-in. Now they must be bicycle-kicking themselves in disgust, and not just because we got knocked out of the running - poor old Barnsie didn't even make it on to the plane to Sweden. Thanks to an unfortunate injury, just before the Championships started. This leaves Krisalis with more eggs on their faces than that nice Mister Major chappie.

John Barnes European Football is a no-frills, bash-the-ball-around football game, and not a lot more. Essentially a revamped version of Manchester United with an improved pitch and slightly better graphics, John Barnes looks like a cynical marketing ploy to relieve you of a bit more of your hard-earned dosh in the name of football.

SICK AS A PARROT
There are a few improvements which make the game a little better than its predecessor. Arrows underneath the players make sure you know which way you should be kicking, and the noise of the crowd adds a fair helping of atmosphere. But overall, the experience is disappointing. Instead of the lightning-fast mega-heroes you expect to be controlling, you're given a bunch of virtually indistinguishable geeks (with the exception of Barnes himself) who react like they have semi-hard concrete in their boots. There's also a strange tendency for your players to move faster across the pitch from wing to wing which completely ruins any chance you had of reclaiming the ball in open ground. All you need is one Swede to come running along and they're off with the ball like a shot.

The performance of your goalie isn't much better. Try a pass-back manoeuvre from just outside the box, and your gloved guardian leaps into the air accompanied by tumultuous applause from the audience. Why? Maybe because Krisalis weren't expecting you to play real football, perhaps?

You have a few options which you can select at the beginning of each game. You can vary the playing length from 10 minutes to the full hour-and-a-half, or change the weather. Setpieces, like free-kicks and penalties can be disabled if all you want is continuous ball-on-foot action. The silliest option has to be the one which lets you control only Barnes: from the on, the game becomes ridiculous. The camera stays with the ball, and Barne's position is marked on the scanner in the same colour as all your other players, so it's virtually impossible to tell where he is.

Jerky, badly-animated sprites combine with poor ball control to make life even harder for the football aficionado. The small view of the pitch is not large enough to set up any real good passes, and even when you aim a free-kick at one of your own blokes, he usually runs away as soon as the ball is kicked. Frustration reigns supreme, and you'll be shouting at the screen with the same amount of agony that you probably used when you watched the real matches on telly, so in that respect, John Barnes European Football is accurate. But gameplay fun, it certainly isn't.

SING WHEN YER WINNING
It's difficult to work out which is the biggest travesty - England's performance during the ill-fated European Championships, or Krisalis's John Barnes European Football. With so many top-rated footballers England has no excuse to be playing so badly, and with so many top-rated football games around, Krisalis have no excuse for releasing this dog. They can't be blamed for Barnes's injury, but they sure as hell carry the can for this lousy offering. If you only buy one football game this season, make sure this isn't the one. Oh, and Barnsie - get well soon mate, it looks like we'll need you more than ever.


John Barnes European Football logo

Für Fußballhasser brechen schwere Zeiten an: Ein knappes Dutzend Soccer-Games wurden auf der ECTS in London angekündigt! Von Krisalis kommt nun der erste Beitrag zur gesamteuropäischen Leibesertüchtigung...

Da John Barnes in Liverpool dem Ball nachjagt, konnte man unter seinem Namen schlecht die "Manchester United"-Saga fortsetzen - spielerisch sind die Unterschiede aber eher gering. Waren bei "Manchester United Europe" noch 250 Mannschaften beteiligt, so sind es hier nur noch acht; allerdings können im Meisterschaftsmodus sämtliche Teams von menschlichen Fußballern übernommen werden, für das schnelle Match zwischendurch gibt's auch einen Arcade-Modus.

Noch ein paar Optionen, die sich in den ausschließlich per Funktionstasten bedienbaren Menüs verborgen halten: Spielzeit zwischen 4 und 90 Minuten, unterschiedliche Witterungsverhältnisse (plus zufällig einsetzende Regenschauer), die Aufstellung des Gegners (!) läßt sich beeinflussen, ein kleiner Radarschirm à la "Kick Off 2" kann eingeblendet werden und eine Replay-Funktion ist ebenfalls vorhanden.

Im Gegensatz zum höchst inoffiziellen Vorgänger bleibt ein Vier-Spieler Adapter hier zwar leider arbeitslos, dafür können auch Konsolen-Joypads (mit beiden Knöpfen) benutzt werden, normale Joysticks funktionieren aber genauso gut. Die prinzipiell sehr ordentliche und vielfältig einstellbare Steuerung ist vor allem bei den Freistößen etwas "strategischer" geworden, andererseits aber auch einen Hauch schwammiger. Wer das englische Team übernimmt, kann sich übrigens darauf beschränken, einzig und allein John Barnes über den Rasen zu dirigieren, ansonsten kommt jeweils der ball-nächste Spieler zu Pötte.

John Barnes European Football Optisch ist das Game recht hübsch geraten, denn die Sprites sind schön groß, und man hat sich ein paar nette Dreingaben einfallen lassen: So gibt es digitalisierte Zwischenbilder, das Auswechseln von Spielern ist ein Augenschmaus (aber ein bißchen umständlich), und nach einem Tor drehen die Jungs vor Begeisterung eine kleine Ehrenrunde. Andererseits wurde zugunsten eines flotteren Gameplays der Screen-ausschnitt recht knapp gehalten, und die diversen Menüs und Tabellen sind auch nicht gerade "Eyecatcher". Rundum gelungen dagegen sind der Techno-Funk-Titeltrack und das Gepfeife bzw. Getröte während des Spiels.

Insgesamt haben wir es also mit einem sehr brauchbaren Soccer-Game zu tun, wenngleich zwei bis drei Optionen mehr nicht geschadet hätten. Daß das Programm aufgrund der vielfältigen Ähnlichkeiten ebensogut hätte "Manchester United III" heißen können, ist letzten Endes ja kein Fehler. Hauptsache, der Spaß stimmt, und das tut er. Die gegnerischen Torwarte haben einiges am Kasten, und zu dritte, viert, fünft etc. kommt richtiges EM-Feeling auf! Auf das Erscheinen der übrigen Fußballneuheiten braucht also nur zu warten, wer "Manchester United Europe" schon auswendig kennt... (mm)


John Barnes European Football logo

Krisalis manage to get their game of two halves out first, but will updating Manchester United Europe be enough to secure a win?

Hold it right there and ask yourself this question: is there really any room in your crowded games collection for yet another football simulator? Well, yes, quite frankly, there is in mine - and the software houses seem to be betting there is in yours too. This is but one of a whole number of new footie games to tie in with the European Championships (see Stuart's feature this issue).

There is a good reason for this, of course - they can keep on churning them out until someone actually gets it right as far as I'm concerned.

That's right, despite numerous stabs at it from just about every software house ever, I'd say that nobody has come up with a footie game that does the genre justice yet. To date I would say that Anco came closest with Kick Off - an opinion not shared by everyone on AMIGA POWER, I know (Too bloody right - Mark & Stuart) - but while it's far from perfect, and arguably nothing like real football at all, it plays better than Waylong Jennings live, and I couldn't ask for much more than that.

There's one other big contender, of course - Manchester United Europe, the predecessor to this John Barnes game. While this didn't attract me in quite the same way, I just this minute produced a personal To Ten Footy Chart and it managed to come second anyway.

As John Barnes European Football is, presumably, an improvement over Manchester United, then, it has a fair chance of becoming the reigning soccer game - at least until the almost certainly all-conquering Sensible Soccer becomes available. But does it? Well, let's find out, shall we...? Without further ado it's me against Barnesy in The Bottom Line Championship finals...


It doesn't offer much scope in the long run

PHWEEEP! KICK OFF!
And already Barnesy's in possession... In John Barnes you can play in a single match against either a computer-controlled or human opponent. (No surprises there). Or you can compete against seven other European teams (under human or computer control) in a Championship of sorts (two Groups of four teams slug it out, as it were). It's fine as far as it goes, but doesn't offer much scope for lone players in the long run.

PHWEEEP! ONE NIL!
And Barnes is the scorer! He's off to a cracking start with options galore. Among other things, you can determine the length of the match and turn off the weather (otherwise it rains from time to time), the scanner, the set-pieces and celebrations if you don't like them.

PHWEEEP! ONE ALL!
Oh dear. Despite being simple enough to handle immediately, I found the control a little too sensitive for my liking. When it comes to gaining possession, it's too easy to tap the ball away by mistake, and all the boys move rather too fast - they end up running around the pitch at great speed and looking like dorks. Durely with all these options, some form of sensitivity adjustment wouldn't have gone amiss?

OOOAAAH!
A near miss. The set-pieces used for throw-ins, corners and free kicks are too clinical and not as free-flowing as I'd like - particularly the free kicks taken just outside the box (that does my head in).


This is a very atmospheric footy game

PHWEEEP! TWO ONE!
Spellbinding! It's that old Barnesy magic coming through! The title music's a thumpy toe-tapper, and the sound during play is even better. There's a dead 'thunky' ball-biffing noise, classy klaxon hoots, the occasional 'Boom!'(!), grunts from the 'keepers at full stretch and requests of "Here!" from eager players. And even though the lively crowd's as tinny as the whistle sound, it all makes for a big Big Match atmosphere.

PHWEEEP! THREE ONE!
And it's Barnes again for a hat-trick! Barnesy has oodles of niceties to add to the buzz generated by the sound. The referee and linesmen behave pretty much like the real-life counterparts, and there are even occupied dugouts (for effect only I'm afraid - they aren't at all interactive). I also like the way the players stand around with their hands on their hips, waiting for you to move or pass the ball, too, and scorers sometimes run off the pitch and on to the surrounding track to share their delight with the fans.

OOOAAAH!
That was close. Barnesy's primarily horizontal action is claustrophobic (the players are roughly a fifth of the size of the area of the pitch shown). The radar showing the players' positions is all very thoughtful, ta, but it has no practical application. Your best bet is to keep playing with the same team and get used to where they by and large position themselves (that's if you can instantly tell the difference between the faceless players without wasting a valuable split second looking down to see the name of the man in possession).

THERE'S NOTHING IN IT, BRIAN
And at the end of the day we have a result. Barnesy's a winner, but only just - it could have gone either way. Supporters of Man United Europe will be able to wallow in Barnesy's shallow waters happily - this is a very atmospheric footy game, packed with neat touches, but still significantly flawed , in particular the small area of pitch on screen at any one time. This was apparently a speed trade off - Man United had a bigger area visible but moved more slowly - it's up to the individual which you prefer.

Me? After 90 minutes of sheer hell (well, it's not that bad) I'm off to pontificate with the lads over a Lucozade. Ah, if only Barnesy could reproduce his Liverpool form on the Amiga...


John Barnes European Football logo

Following the likes of Gazza and Gary Lineker in the rush to endorse a Football game, John Barnes steps up for his turn in Krisalis's loose follow up to the Manchester United games - Tony Dillon joins John on the pitch...

TITLE CHASE
Following in the footsteps of Emlyn Hughes, Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne comes John Barnes. No, I don't mean playing in the England squad, having a hit single, or becoming an internationally-renowned player - he's done that already. I mean having a computer game names after him. Although, to be fair, John did play a bigger part in the development of this game than smile candidly while holding a joystick for an appallingly crass press photo.
Apparently, John had his hand in the door all the way through this game's development (his feet are far too previous to use), but I'm not sure that that's a good thing - it's a bit like Pavarotti telling Stock, Aitken and Watermen how to have a hit.

The more football games appear, the more they seem to be mutations of several previous ones. Kick Off was midway between Speedball and Emlyn Hughes' International Soccer, for example. John Barnes European Soccer (JBES) seems to have pinched ideas from Emlyn Hughes, Super Soccer, Match Day and, of course, the mighty Kick Off.
Unfortunately, it also seems to have borrowed a lot of their bad points.

The basic design is standard fare. Eight teams compete in the European league for the championship title, with your opponents controlled by either human players or the computer. Additionally, there's the option to play a one off match between you and either a friend or a computer-controlled opponent. You can play as any of the teams, but it doesn't really matter as there doesn't seem to be a lot of difference between them.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS
There are a huge array of options to work your way through before play commences. You can choose opt for weather effects; whether to display a Kick Off-style scanner; the length of the match; if you control the whole team or just John; and the assorted control methods which include an option for play with a Sega joypad.

Once you've found your way past the various options, and selected your team and one of the six basic formations, you can finally try your hands (or feet) at a match.

If it's graphic frills and thrills you're after, you don't need to look further than this. I would go so far as to say that these are the best graphics ever seen on a football game. The player sprites are large, and very well animated, and players' heads even track the ball as its passes them - most impressive.

Similarly, the crowd bob in their seats, the referee constantly skirts about the screen, and the players have different hairstyles, beards and skin colours. It seems that Krisalis have gone for a football game that looks like a game of football. This, they've done excellently.

FOUL!
However, it also seems that Krisalis have tried to emulate how difficult a small leaf of Cabbage would find it to play football - especially when faced by a computer opponent who could put Pele to shame. There are a few major flaws with the playability, the controls being the largest problems. The response time between joystick and player movement is simply too long, and often means that a lot of the time players are sent looping round the ball, but never quite connect.

Also, the length of time between pressing the fire-button and kicking the ball is atrocious - a full second and a half at one point. The strange thing is that this rule only seems to apply to human players, as the computer can accurately, pass, tackle and shoot without batting an eyelid.
A typical playing sequence goes like this: Human player gets the ball. Checking the scanner he spots a player just left of the goal in a perfect position to shoot. He runs. He leaves the ball behind him, realises his mistake and turns and races back towards the ball with a computer player mere inches behind him. He reaches the ball first, turns and presses the button to kick the ball up-field, in the small wait between fire button and kicking, a computer player whips the ball from his feet. While standing on the spot it passes the ball backwards to another player. Another two perfect passes and the computer shoots a goal straight into the back of the net. Most annoying!

BARNES STORMER
Everything moves about on-screen quite fast, and this is a real accomplishment when the size of the sprites is taken into consideration. It's actually a little too fast, though, adding to the overall difficulty of getting possession and keeping control of the ball. The way the ball is kicked is dependent on which way you turn the joystick with the firebutton depressed. Sometimes it will go a 90 degrees to the direction you are running, whilst on others it will go on in the direction you're going, but only a couple of yards. Kick Off's controls were complex, but logical and intuitive. JBES' controls seem to be merely awkward and unpredictable.

All its graphical thrills aside, John Barnes' European Soccer seems to be little more than another unplayable star licence. It has dashes of real inspiration - Teque have created an excellent free kick system. Whenever a player is hacked down in the box, as they pick themselves up your opponents form a defensive wall. As they do so, you are invited to select the taker, and position a handful of attackers where you are aiming to punt the ball. After the opposition has done the same, you are given one more chance to position another player, before taking the kick - it takes a while to set up, but is very effective.

However, even with brilliant ideas such as this, the game still can't cut it. Excellently presented, JBES advances the football game's image and look well into the 90's, but the playability takes us right back to the days of the infamous World Cup Carnival.


GAINING CONTROL
After their successful Manchester United games for Krisalis, Teque decided to upgrade their control system for John Barnes European Soccer. The basic controls remain the same, with a short tap on the firebutton giving a low ball and a long tap giving a high ball. Holding down the fire button 'locks' a player running in a direction, allowing you to select a direction to turn and kick the ball. The other players are now far more intelligent than before, and will move into positions to receive the ball when it is passed. Passing still isn't as automatic as in Kick Off

John Barnes European Football logo

Krisalis/ 1Meg Amiga/ ST/ £25.99

John Barnes Soccer is a sideways Manchester United Europe lookalike, based on the European Championships, with only this year's eight teams to choose from. There are options to have weather on or off ('on' means it will rain and there will be rumbles of thunder), to play as the entire England team or just as John Barnes or to play as one of the other seven teams, and to play a tournament or a one-off game.

There are some nice touches: as the game starts, players run onto the pitch as their names are announced, the crowd noises are good. One nice touch is the Optional Scan mode where, at a set-piece, you move a target around the pitch to where you want to play the ball.

Another good feature is the Lock mode where, if you hold the fire button while running in one direction but point the joystick in another when you release the button, the ball goes in that direction.

The gameplay, however, is rather disappointing - passing and shooting can be frustrating, with variable strength kicks that are difficult to control. The lock-on facility works fine in itself, it's just the unpredictable power of the subsequent pass/shot that's a bit naff.

Overall it's an okay game that doesn't exactly set the world alight. And what if John Barnes doesn't play? Not a top selling point, is it?


John Barnes European Football CD32 logo CD32

Buzz * £14.99

This is the second football game to show its face on Commodore's CD32, the first being . John Barnes' looks, on the surface, the perfect football game. All the features you'd expect to see in a game of this type are in there.

Changeable weather conditions, scanner, match length and even the option to turn the player celebrations off are just a small handful of examples. The graphics are completely amazing and undoubtedly the best ever seen in an arcade football game.

You must do battle with the cream of European talent from eight nations to become the Champions of Europe by lifting the acclaimed European Nations Cup.

There are fully animated substitutions (where the players strip off their tracksuits) and player celebrations (where the scorer goes completely bonkers and runs around the side of the pitch receiving an adulation from his adoring fans).

The celebrations are really a sight to behold because in John Barnes' the scoring of goals is extremely realistic - but this unfortunately is where the game suffers. The realism is great, but it's nigh on impossible to score one!

The other teams are so difficult that you soon get frustrated. I'm sure some football fans will persevere with it, but those with short-tempers should steer well clear.


John Barnes European Football CD32 logo CD32

Buzz * £14.99 * Out now

Bit of a forgotten man now is our John but he's still one of the best. Anyway, his European Football game is what you're interested in (or not as the case may be) and the CD32 version is a straight port from its floppy predecessor.

This one dates from England's ill-fated excursion to Sweden in 1992 and poor John never even made it to Heathrow. A side-on view with large sprites affair, it is essentially a revamped Manchester United. Unfortunately the sprites aren't particularly well animated and they are a bit clumsy to boot. The gameplay is stilted rather than free-flowing and the sluggish controls make it difficult to play speedy passing football.

There are plenty of options including tactics, match length (up to 90 minutes, heaven forbid) and one where you control only the boy Barnie himself.
Unfortunately, you can only use the joypad to play the game. If you plug in an ordinary joystick you can move the players around, but not kick the ball.

John Barnes European Football may look like a bargain for only 15 sovs but take my advice, for an extra tenner, is your best bet.


John Barnes European Football CD32 logo CD32

Während es mit den "richtigen" Neuerscheinungen für Commos CD-Konsole immer noch recht zäh vorangeht, können wir Euch hier schon vier brandneue CD32-Versionen von älteren Amiga-Titeln (Arabian Nights, Deep Core, John Barnes European Football & Nigel Mansell's World Championship) präsentieren!

Wie eine gelbe Karte der anderen gleicht Krisalis' eher mittelprächtiges Fußballspiel (also kein American Football!) der vor Jahresfrist erschienenen Diskversion. Bis zu acht Spieler dürfen sich jeweils ein Euro-Nationalteam aussuchen, an Optionen wird außer einstellbaren Wetterverhältnissen und einem Arcademodus herzlich wenig geboten.

Auch die horizontal scrollende Grafik ist nicht so wahnsinnig überzeugend, und die Spielsteuerung funktioniert mehrt schlecht als recht. Ebenfalls vom Amiga her bekannt ist die bur aus Fangebrüll bestehende Soundkulisse, was der nur 49,- DM teuren Bolzerei eine Wertung von nur 51 Prozent einbringt. (md)


John Barnes European Football CD32 logo CD32

Buzz, £14.99

This, on the other hand, I played quite a lot first time round, and I was hoping fervently for a few obvious improvements from the CD version.
Sadly, they weren't forthcoming, so this is still predominantly a frustrating game to play, with jerky scrolling only serving to exacerbate the annoying over-precision with which you have to approach the ball in order to make your players collect it. The computer's selection of 'player nearest the ball' is still one of the worst I've experienced from computer soccer, and the simple task of kicking the ball is still ridiculously more complicated than it ought to be, even with the joypad buttons helping out control-wise.

The last drawback is that it's still based on the 1992 European Championship finals, which means that as well as feeling very out-of-date, you only get a very limited selection of eight teams and one tournament set-up to choose from.

This Has been enhanced for the CD32, with a really nice crowd-moise soundtrack, but it needed more than cosmetic tampering.


John Barnes European Football CD32 logo CD32

BUZZ £14.99

Is it me or do the words 'John Barnes' and 'International' not belong in the same sentence? Whatever the case, it hasn't stopped this game appearing.

The easiest way to describe it is an updated version of the Commodore 64 classic International Soccer. If you can't remember that far back, it, like John Barnes, is a simple, side-to-side scrolling football game with very few thrills. In fact, I prefer the older game. While John Barnes contains such things as a free kick designer and CD soundtrack, the game itself just isn't playable. It's not fast enough and the controls aren't all that responsive particularly when compared to disk-based titles like Sensible Soccer.

The action is limited as well, and is very much a case of kick and run football, the likes of which you wouldn't even see at Highbury. The standard tactic is to hoof the ball as soon as you get it, and hope that at some point it ends up in the net.

The sad fact is that this just isn't a good game, and I have more chance of getting an England place than poor old Barnsey. There may not be much of a choice when it comes to football games on the CD32, but that is no reason to buy this one.