It is soccer. It is pinball. It is soccer and pinball. It is Soccer Pinball (Do you want a job writing AMIGA POWER captions? - Ed). Only it is not (soccer and pinball, that is). Well, not very much anyway.
At least the instructions are a laugh. "Hip dang doody", they hoot, "hear the crowd roar in the craziest footy sim yet". Now I do not claim to be the most perceptive of people, but when I played Soccer Pinball it seemed more like a pinball sim with only a vague football theme to the first table. Hang on, I will check... yep, it is a pinball sim all right, and not a particularly good one at that.
The first table does indeed have a footy motif - it is green and it has got a picture of a footballer on it. If you manage to score two goals (knock down a 'goalie' block and send the ball into the goal) you progress to the first of three 'bonus' pin tables. This first has a casino theme (how fondly I remember watching Spurs play cards for the cup). The second has a fruit machine vibe about it and I lost interest at this point and did not bother to find out what the third was all about.
Now, I am sufficiently old to remember when these newfangled computer things were something of a novelty. We used to be excited to see a text routine that remembered our names, so I am still disposed to be impressed by almost anything these programmer-types can make my Amiga do. But there are two things that make it really difficult to be impressed by Soccer Pinball.
The first thing is that it is very, very boring. If it even looked good, I might have made some allowances (pinball itself can be pretty dull). But it does not. The features on each table are limited, and there is precious little incentive to carry on to reach the bonus tables for more of the same. The second thing is Pinball Dreams. Pinball Dreams proves that it is more than possible to simulate the movement of a steel ball in real time on a 16-bit computer in an absolutely convincing way.
Given that it can be done so well (and, after all, the laws of mechanics that govern the movement of balls and stuff are pretty well-known), it is a disappointment to see it done in such a shoddy way.
In Soccer Pinball the ball slowly rolls about the place in almost exactly the same way that a real steel ball does not. The flippers entirely fail to flip in a flipper-side way and the top quality collision detection routine allows the ball to pass clean through some of the obstacles every once in a while. Oh, and it may be an exciting bonus feature, but I once managed to make the ball leap completely off the table and fly around for a bit in a most un-pinball-like way.
So then, m'dears, it is all rather dull really and does not capture any of the excitement of either soccer or pinball. And we know, don't we children, that it can be, and has been, done much, much better.