Total Football logo

Reviewed by Andy Maddock

Total Football arrived some time last year on the Megadrive - I think - and it wasn't the most popular game ever and never managed to steal the crown from the FIFA series. However, on the Amiga it's a different story.

Sensible Soccer was and still is the finest arcade football game, so anybody who thinks they can better it is surely mistaken. I don't think anybody can better SWOS but one day I hope someone will prove me wrong.

However, Domark has finally released Total Football after claiming it may never release it. So here it is... Some people actually mixed Total Football up with Championship Manager 2 thinking they were the same thing, only with different titles - some even thought the two were going to be incorporated because you manage your side like in Championship Manager and when you get on to the field you get to play the action in arcade fashion with Total Football.

At the beginning of the game you get to choose between a standard friendly or league, knockout and cup competitions. Before you begin the game you can also tinker with the options which range from match length to pitch conditions.


The computer seems to enjoy taking the ball off the end of your boot and storming forward to smash the ball into the back of the net

When you actually get into the competition you desire you will find that the only teams available to you are international sides. And after you select your formation from many it's out on to the pitch for some footy action.

Unfortunately, there are no real player names but some of your players are distinguished in other ways, for example you may find a player in your side is completely bald... the only way I can explain the pitch view is that it is isometric FIFA-like - only the camera view is slightly higher up. Also, incidentally, the camera angle cannot be changed.

The first problem that hit me was the control method. When you press up on the controller your player will run up the pitch. Nothing wrong with this, I suppose, except it is quite bizarre bearing in mind the angled isometric pitch. In these games I usually prefer the player to run up the pitch in an up/diagonal way when I press up so I know how to aim shots, otherwise you will be all over the place - like I was. It will take some getting used to but after a while you should be knocking in goals left, right and centre.

The shooting system is also pretty awkward because you have to press the fire button once to pass, twice for a bit of a shot, and three times for an absolute crack up field. Obviously, you end up using the latter because passing the ball around is not as easy as you think. The computer seems to enjoy taking the ball off the end of your boot and storming forward to smash the ball into the back of the net. Ooh, thanks.

The presentation in Total Football is pretty good. The graphics are nicely drawn and, surprisingly, there are many crowd chants, along with some geezer who insists on thrusting in certain comments about the action.


No score draw

It's pretty difficult to score in this game. I had to wait five matches before I managed to put the ball away in open play. It seems the easiest way to score is via a penalty, so if you jog about in the box like a madman someone's bound to tear your legs down. Consequently, it seems as if Total Football has a flaw - but not if you turn the fouls option off.

If you do manage to score a half decent goal your player will run off in delight to the crowd, either to display his happiness or his nipples. Yes, even in computer games scorers have had to rush to rip off their shits, only to face the inevitable fine from the club.

Final word

Overall, Total Football isn't bad. It's certainly a good effort which will undoubtedly give Amiga owners much relief to know that football games are still being made. But I have a feeling Total Football's success will be very short lived. As soon as Championship Manager 2 is released I think it will be slightly overshadowed, which is a real pity. Oh well.



Total Football logo Amiga Format Gold

With the European Championships getting under way this month, Martin Axford discovers that you can never have enough football. No, really.

Regardless of how much you love the Amiga and its stack of football games, I don't believe anyone could have failed to be disillusioned by the recent dearth of footy action games and management sims. Re-releases, bundles and updates which are out-of-date before they hit the shelves have done nothing to rejuvenate a struggling market. As for new talent, Treble Champions 2 (AF84, 5%) was as likely to hit the market as Torquay United are to lift themselves off the bottom of the Endsleigh Third Division.

None of this bodes well for Domark's Total Football, a Megadrive conversion, which originally claimed to look like FIFA Soccer and play like Sensi - a claim which has been made too many times in the past to be taken seriously.

But having spent the past week playing Total Football, growing callouses on my once baby-soft finger tips in the process, my skepticism has vanished and been replaced by a rather silly grin instead.

LESS IS MORE
In Total Football, Domark have taken a gamble. Many things which have appeared in other similar games have been ignored with the end result, a rather plain looking game. For instance, there is no option to view replays, to declare a tactical war on the opposition, to view the opposition's formation, to alter a team's formation during the match (other than at half-time), to substitute players, to choose the number of teams entered into a league or tournament or to change the standard isometric view. These are all things you won't find in Total Football and while that should matter, it didn't bother me one jot.

While its predecessors have concentrated on implementing as many options as they possibly can, and at best making the game look like a third-rate ITV Sports presentation, one major sacrifice has always been made - playability. I don't care if I can watch my centre-forward score the same goal from various angles, at different speeds or have to read a tedious commentary describing everything from his initial run into the box to the colour of his underpants, if the game isn't fun to play.

Such features, I believe, have been used in the past to disguise the fact that football games on the Amiga are rarely anything more than a poor excuse to capitalise on a growth area in a dying market.

FEWER STUNTS
But Total Football is different. Its only gimmick is in allowing players who have scored to celebrate in a befitting manner. As if scoring a goal isn't going to annoy your opponent enough, you are provided with the opportunity to somersault to your heart's content, simply leap and turn or frollick with team-mates on the ground in front of adulating fans. For an unlimited amount of time. Or, at least, until your opponent thumps you.

Not only is this great fun, but it also reflects the fact that whereas fans used to do the elaborate goal celebrations on the terraces (reflected in FIFA Soccer's whistles and foghorns) it is the players who get more excited now.

PLAYABILITY
With 50 international teams to choose from, along with the dubious inclusion of an All Star team, and the option to play friendlies, in a league and either cup competitions or tournament, Total Football adheres to a strict formula. The same formula which allows you to alter the length of the matches, the standard of refereeing and the type of pitch (there is a choice of six though the difference they make is negligible).

But as soon as you've gone through the motions and altered your team's formation, the recurrent formulaic approach suddenly falls apart.

The beauty of Total Football is that it has a high level of playability, noticeable from the first kick of the ball. The joystick controls allow short passing movements, searching through balls with swerve from the after-touch option, or hopeful hoofs upfield on the off chance that your front men can capitalise on the fact that the defence are still backtracking from your own half. At times the action can be painfully slow yet choosing different combinations of teams and mixing up the short ball with the long can easily increase the tempo substantially.

Crisp, sweeping passing moves are the game's showpiece. Each player is afforded the talent to either control the ball and set off on a jinking run or pass first time. And yet the ball fails to stick to players' feet. One can easily rob the opposition with a sliding tackle or intercept passes.

Every player appears to have a different capacity for speed and each presents an obstacle for the ball. (The ball will hit you rather than travel through you.) Too many footy action games work on the premise that if a tackle isn't committed within a certain radius of the player with the ball, then tough luck. Which is hardly realistic.

However, there are things which niggled me the first time I played Total Football and continue to do so. There is no option to manually change the player you control. And this creates one major problem because sometimes the switch between players isn't made fast enough. Often I have been controlling a player off the screen when trying to shoot or tackle in the opposition's half and then given away a free-kick just outside my own area.

NO SCORE
I've also found it almost impossible to execute headers or significant volleys, the like of which a computer opponent manages. Then there are the goalkeepers. Never have I played a game in which the 'keepers are so good. Again, there is no option to control them manually, which would have eliminated the problem, or even a choice of difficulty levels. Instead, prepare yourselves for more no-score draws than Grandstand's vidi-printer.

Another moan in the direction of the goalkeepers is their inability to kick the ball anywhere other than straight down the middle of the pitch. While they have no problem passing it to a defender, their kicks out to the wing (and this goes for their throws to) sail straight into touch. Great.

Such complaints may leave you in doubt whether to buy this but, however frustrating it may get sometimes, Total Football is also one of the most rewarding footy games I've ever played and certainly the finest of its kind the market has seen for a long time.



Total Football logo

Kaum sind Deutscher Meister und Pokalsieger gekürt, laufen zur EM drei neue Digi-Kicker im Amiga-Stadion ein (Total Football, Five-a-Side Soccer & SWOS '95/'96 European Championship Edition) - obwohl dieser Iso-Sport von Domark mit dem realen Großereignis eigentlich nur den Termin gemein hat.

Rein optisch erinnert das Eröffnungsspiel unserer Mini-Meisterschaft and das prächtige "FIFA Int. Soccer" von Electronic Arts. Allerdings erreichen hier weder die ruckeligen Animationen noch die laue Steuerung oder die bescheidene Cleverneß der CPU-Kicker die überragende Klasse des Konkurrenten.

So kommt es z.B. viel zu häufig vor, daß gegnerische Stürmer nach Erreichen des Strafraums dem satten Torschuß einen Ausflug zur Eckfahne vorziehen, um von dort die Kollegen per Flanke zu bedienen...

Da zudem die hineingrätschenden Ledertreter meist schneller zur Stelle sind, als Kaiser Franz das Wort "Vize-meister" sagen kann, ist Kick-and-Rush die erfolgversprechendste Taktik - schöne Ballstafetten und durchdachten Spielaufbau wird man bei Total Football eher selten zu Gesicht bekommen.

Dem mit regulären Sticks auf einen Feuerknopf beschränkten Handling (bei besseren Modellen oder Pads werden auch mehr Buttons unterstützt) darf man das jedoch nur zum Teil in die Stollenschuhe schieben, denn nach einigen Trainingseinheiten sind dann auch lange Passe mit dem kuriosen Triple-Klick einigermaßen in den Griff zu bekommen.

Ansonsten sorgen nette Gags wie die davonhumpenden Opfer rüder Fouls oder das Herunterreißen der Trikots nach einem Treffer für Laune, sporadischer Grafikfehler und Systemabstürze dagegen für Ärger auf der Tribune vor dem Monitor.

Da ist es ein schwacher Trost, daß die Sound-FX recht ordentlich klingen, auch wenn das Stöhnen der Protagonisten besser zu einem Prügelspiel passen würde.

Zumal die Optionen und Features meilenweit von der Weltspitze entfernt sind: Freundschaftsspiele und eine Liga mit mageren sieben Teams (bei Turnier und Pokal sind es immerhin jeweils 32) stehen für den Kampf gegen Kumpel oder Compi bereit und 50 Nationalmannschaften zur Wahl.

Daß diese unterschiedliche Trikots tragen, sieht man; daß ihr Leistungsgefälle nicht eben realistisch ist, merkt man - spätestens dann, wenn wieder einmal ein Exot wie Japan zum Pokalsieger gekürt wird.

Ein Match darf zwischen sechs und neunzig Minuten dauern, und es stehen sechs Bodenverhältnisse ebenso zur Disposition wie die Entscheidung per Verlängerung und/oder Elfmeterschießen, das Anhalten bzw. Weiterlaufen der Uhr bei Unterbrechungen und der Eifer des Schiedsrichters.

Dazu kommen acht Systeme und ein paar klitzekleine Statistiken, aber eben keine eigenen Aufstellungen, keine Auswechslungen und keine Save-Option.

Kurzum, ohne Kumpel für den halbwegs launigen Duo-Modus hat Total Football eher wenig zu bieten. Jedenfalls allemal zu wenig, um selbst auf kleinen Amigas seinen großen Namen zu rechtfertigen.



Total Football logo

The Dutch faffed about a bit with the concept but it's Domark who have now mastered the art of...

The A500 Club was formed in 1991 by Certain Select Amiga Games as a place where they could meet and discuss Matters Of Great Importance in privacy and comfort. There are leather chairs. There are luxuriant carpets. And there is oaken furniture polished to a deep lustre by shuffling retainers in tail coats and striped trousers.

The Members work hard to maintain an atmosphere of gentility and sophistication, and employ a World Class kitchen staff so that the Club might serve as a place where a game can eat a decent meal away from home in civilised surroundings.

And where it may take friends and business acquaintances for a quiet chat about, oh, I don't know, this and that, away from the hustle and bustle of The Industry.

Tonight is a special night at the Club, it is time to elect a new member. Gaining membership of The Club is a lengthy and arduous process. A game must first prove itself worthy before a panel of Expert Reviewers and then pass a lengthy interview by the Special Membership Sub Committee. Only then is its application put to a vote by the Members.

Each Member is given two balls - one black, one white, and each about the size of golf balls. A velvet bag is passed from Member to Member and each places into the bag a ball according to its preference - white to accept, black to reject. A complicated formula is used to determine the number of white balls needed on any given day to secure membership for the Applicant, and the tally is recorded in The Great Ledger by the Loyal Membership Secretary.

The successful Applicant is invited to take its place among the Members in the Joystick Lunge. There they may sip F-Max and relax before the Initiation Ceremony and the Passing Of The Sacred Secrets. As Honorary Members, the MIGHTY BEINGS of AMIGA POWER are privy to the mysteries of the Ceremony and, indeed, of the Secrets, but we are bound by Solemn Oath never to reveal them to Leisure Suit Larrys (Club slang for non-members). We are allowed to say that they include the use of dongles.

INITIATION
There are fewer applicants these days and there is usually a large turnout on Election Evenings. Conversation in the Joystick Lounge is animated and noisy as the Members wait for the results of the Reviews and Interviews. Tonight, after the Reviewers had finished their work, the Applicant was called to meet the Special Membership Sub Committee.

"Please state your full name for the record," said the stern-voiced Chairman, F1GP.
"I am Total Football."
"Like the magazine?" asked Monkey Island.
"Yes," replied Total Football, wearily, "just like the magazine only not connected with it at all."

"Very well," continued F1GP, "Why don't you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?"
"I'm an isometric-view arcade football game. Some of my friends say I look a bit like FIFA. I try to concentrate more on action than simulation and I've tried to be as playable as Sensible."

As he spoke, both FIFA and Sensible looked up from their note pads and began to pay a great deal more attention. "I've got a full array of international teams - although I haven't actually got a licence from anyone so I can't use real players' names - and I offer a range of tournament styles, from Friendly to League and a knock-out cup, support two player action and two-button joysticks. And when the Player scores they can control the celebrations of the on-screen players with a bit of joystick waggling and button pressing."


Like the magazine only not

"I see, said Cannon Fodder, this year's Treasurer.
"The report from the Reviewrs says that you play exceptionally well. It says you might even be a rival to Sensible." The Committee chuckled at this and look at Sensible for a comment. He stayed unusually quiet. "What have you got to say about that?" the Treasurer asked.

"Well, I'm flattered, naturally. I've tried to make sure that my controls are accessible and that it's as easy to get started on a game as possible. I haven't bothered with a load of tedious tactics and management rubbish - the player just chooses a country and a formation for them and gets going."

"What?" said FIFA. "No variable weather? No team selection? No statistics?"
"I've got weather, yes, but the team selection and stats just get in the way as far as I'm concerned. With all due respect, you were designed with the American market, where they love their sporting statistics more than their own mothers, very much in mind."

"And with your FIFA licence you could afford to mess around with players and all that caper. I haven't got to worry about any of that. And football isn't about statistics. It's about thrills. And action. And Saturday afternoons in a freezing stand with a mug of Bovril and a chees roll. Do you know what I mean?"

"I know," Sensible assured him, "I know, FIFA and I have been having this argument about playability and realism for years. But you've gone for realistic-looking graphics. Why was that?"

"With all due respect to you, too. I wasn't interested in looking like a cartoon version of football. Team tried that and look where it got him". There were laughs around the table and a few of the rowdier games threw bread rolls at a hand-coloured box on the mantelpiece.

"I wanted a realistic look with arcade accessibility." The roll-throwing continued and looked like getting a little out of hand.

"I say, you chaps," said F1GP, desperately trying to bring the meeting to order. "Put those bloody bread rolls down and let's get on with the business in hand. Do you mind? Thank you. Well, my lad, I can tell you that our Reviews Committee has written a glowing report. They say, 'With looks like FIFA and playability almost on a par with Sensible, Total Football is an all-rounder of exceptionally quality. Only the lack of subtlety in the player control - a hurry-up button for pursuing players would have been nice, for instance - and a lack of player identities marred an otherwise superb performance."

"Total Football doesn't quite have the magical playability of Sensible but it's an admirable synthesisis of the two, producing a good looking and superbly playable football game which we enjoyed immensely."

"Golly," spluttered the Applicant., "I never expected all that. I know I'm shooting myself in the foot a little, but are there any negative things in the report?"
"Oh yes," said the Chairman, "But mostly minor ones. Apparently your players all look a little bit like... where is it? Ah, here we are.


Shooting myself in the foot

RESOLUTION
"The players in Total Football look as they might have been extras in the crowd scenes in Planet Of The Apes. They have human torsos and limbs and they move much as men do, but their faces are startlingly simian. We thought it was just the goalies at first, but closer inspection showed that it was all of them. It's a small thing, but it did add an extra dimension to the game to imagine that, just outside the stadium, Charlton Heston was shouting his despair at the sky with Liberty's torch thrusting poignantly from the sand in front of him. It probably won't work for everyone."

"The main criticism they had was of your difficulty level. It seems it's much too hard to beat the computer controlled teams. Even the very bad ones."

"I wanted to be a long-lasting game, it's no good being so easy that the Player can beat the computer 10-nil every time - where's the challenge? And anyway that's not the reason most people buy football games anyway. I put all my best efforts into the two-player game."

"Yes, well, I have to say that the Reviewers agreed with you," replied the Chairman. "They say that as a two-player game you can rival any of the greats and that with all that dancing and shirt-waving the Players can make their goal-scorers do you'll be the cause of many a Saturday night punch up in living rooms across the land."

They chatted for another hour until finally, the Chairman thanked Total Football for coming and asked him to wait in the lobby while they proceeded with the vote.

In the Joystick Lounge the Loyal Membership Secretary, Theme Park, presented the findings both of the Reviewers and the Special Membership Sub Committee. She described his realistic graphics and simple controllability. She noted the variable match-length and weather. She remarked upon the fact that it wasn't possible to switch control between off-the-ball players and the extreme effectiveness of the goal keepers.

"All in all", she said, "Total Football is a dman fine game, and the Committee recommends that you accept him into the Club. My colleague will now pass the bag among you. We have used Farthingale's Left-Handed Rule to determine this evening's pass rate and I am obliged by the Rules Of The Club to tell you that Total Football requires white balls from 119/156 of the total membership less Those Abroad Or Address Unknown as of the thirteenth of last month.

We shall then apply the Apple Pie Rule to 2/3 of the remaining un-cast votes with a view to reducing the..."
"We've counted them. He's in," shouted a voice from the back.
"I knew he would be." Theme Park said and sat down with a can of F-Max.



Total Football logo

Price: £29.99 Publisher: Domark 0181 780 2222

A footy game coming out on the Amiga that isn't a management sim? Yes it's true.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your pleasure and comfort I would like to present this review to you in four easy to swallow chunks. Firstly I will be showering you with general information about the product being tested, secondly I will be telling you what I don't like about the aforementioned product (just to get the horrible stuff out of the way); thirdly I will be telling you what I do like about the game (to leave us all with a warm feeling), and finally I will be sharing with you my overall thoughts and comments on the game. Right then, shall we begin?

Now it's a brave man that enters the Amiga games world with a soccer game. For many many years the throne has been occupied by - depending on your preference - either Sensible Soccer or Kick Off 2. While Sensible only strengthened their position with Sensible World of Soccer and subsequent updates, as far as helthy competition goes, only the likes of the graphically-pleasing FIFA and the shamelessly unoriginal Football Glory have been of any note. And that's how things have been for quite a while.

Most of the soccer games seen over the past twelve months have targeted the highly popular management genre, leaving everyone to merrily crack on with Sensi until something better arrives. At this point, however, I'd like to introduce you to Domark's Total Football.

Attack
Sad to say, I have to make it clear at this early stage that Total Football won't be earning itself a higher recommendation than Sensi. It does however offer us a pleasing distraction, with one of two players able to play with fifty international teams, six pitch types and four different tournament types.

Other usual options are made available (such as weather, match length, etc.) along with a rather unique control method that I'll talk about in a moment. If you're looking for more blurb, the makers are proud to announce over 1500 frames of animation, crowd samples, intelligent opponents, and "more fun than an afternoon with Saint and Graevsie" (although I'd personally rather spend an afternoon with Hitler and Mussolini).

The control system mentioned is an interesting one, and though I can't report to have been entirely comfortable with it, it at least breaks away from the standard method employed (which you can accept as a positive or a negative - I'm generally of the thought 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it!').

This system works by monitoring how many times to press the fire button in quick succession. Press the button once and the ball will be passed. Press twice and you'll get a more powerful kick that can be affected by after touch in the usual way. Press the button three times becore launching the ball and it'll whistle up the pitch with maximum strength bu little control. And (apart from double tapping the joystick for a speed burst) that's it.

The main problem with this (and we're getting into that 'things I don't like' section) is that there's a delay of a second while I imagine the computer must be waiting to see if you're going to press the button any more. This means that you don't get a instant response to your commands. This is damaging in practice as, when you need to shoot quickly while under pressure, that extra moment often allows the computer to run in and steal the ball.

Another problem occurs when you press the tackle and the computer changes direction before the animation actually sends you off across the floor. This either leads to missed tackles or, more often than not, late challenges and the various penalties they incur.

Penalties
Another problem that might seems petty - but in practice affects the game quite badly - is that the screen gives you no indication of where your other players are. Quite often you'll have a man on-screen, but it's not the one you're currently controlling. As for where the man is, well... I've no idea. Obviously, as you get used to the formations and where you're men are to be found this problem lessens, but it doesn't make things easy to get started with.

But that's enough punching - now for some smooching. The loading time is superb. It takes a little while to get all three disks loading in intially, but once you're into the game, you can speed through options and into the game at an excellent pace without every swapping again.

The graphics are good, with smooth animations and nice details on the players and the crowd. I particularly liked the fact that, hen brought down with a bad tackle, the receiving players limp from the clash and remain slightly wobbly for the next minute of play.

The headers and volleys are convincing, although it must be said that considering how hard it is to get into scoring position (most of our games were pretty low scoring) the keepers are possibly a bit too tasty.

So overall we're left with what is easly one of the better soccer games we've been offered since Sensible World of Soccer was released (way back in the mists of yesteryear) but one that is still hindered by some silly quirks. If you liked FIFA but hated the speed, this could be right up your alley. As for me, well... rather predictably, I'm off for a game of SWOS!