World Cup Soccer '90 logo

VIRGIN £19.99 * Joystick

Well, it only happens once every four years and it's such a big event that software houses can be forgiven for inundating us with games attempting to cash in. What is it? Why, the World Cup of course.

Already there are half a dozen games with Italia, World Cup, and anything else that sounds vaguely connected to the event, in the title - in the hope that football fever will sweep the country and everyone at all interested in the event will rush out and buy a game based on it. There's only one game with the official World Cup license though - this one )but then again there are licenses for other stuff like the England team, Adidas and probably the laundrette that washes the kit).

It's a one or two player game in which you have to play through a qualifying match and then the quarter finals, semis and eventually the final. The game uses the familiar viewed from almost above perspective and it's played like most other footy games except for one important difference.

Normally the footballer the player controls is highlighted (it is here too) and control switches automatically to the player nearest the ball. That doesn't happen here, instead the player has to hit the firebutton to switch players and once a player is selected, if he's nearly enough, another press of the fire button will cause him to either kick the ball if he's in possession or attempt to tackle if he isn't.

The perspective changes once an attacker from either side is in the opposition's box, to a view from behind the player if attacking or behind the goalie if the other team are attacking. Suppose you're attacking you then usually have one shot to beat the goalie. When defending and controlling the goalie you then have to try to save the oppositions shot, which usually involves making a dramatic diving save. Play through the matches, and after a few attempts you may just be lucky enough to walk off with the cup.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

There are some great pieces of digitised speech and crowd noises, but the rest are simple thuds of foot against ball. The graphics are great too especially from behind the goal mouth. The animation's not as hot as it might be because it's a bit jerky but not to the extent that it does any harm to the gameplay.

LASTING INTEREST

It's tricky to get to grips with and the computer controlled teams are no pushover, so the game is going to keep you playing for a while. However, it's got much more lasting interest in two player mode though.

JUDGEMENT

One of the better footy games around at the moment. The gameplay lets itself down by not having automatic switching of players but that doesn't take too long to get used to. It's only in the second division compared to Kick Off, but it's the best of the crop, so far, that are based around the World Cup.



World Cup Soccer '90 logo

Als fünf Minuten vor Redaktionsschluss Virgins neues Fussballgame eintrudelte, machte sich Verwirrung breit: In der letzten Ausgabe hatten wir doch schon ein Spiel gleichen Namens? Aber das war doch von Codemasters?? Da soll noch einer auskennen!

Man sieht also: Die WM sorgt nicht nur in Italien für verzwickte Situationen. Sei es drum, Virgins Kickerei ist jedenfalls weit besser gelungen als die Codemasters-Variante. Zur Einstimmung gibt es ein hübsches Intro mit fetziger Musik, dann wird die Spieldauer und der Schwierigkeitsgrad bestimmt. Jetzt kann noch die Lautstärke der Sounduntermalung festgelegt werden(!), ausserdem muss man sich entscheiden, ob gegen einen Mitspieler gekickt werden soll. Daraufhin erscheint das Spielfeld, die Mannschaften laufen ein - Anpfiff!

Der "FC Joker" stürmt gewohnt kraftvoll in Richtung des gegnerischen Tops. Über dem Spieler, der gerade dem Ball am nächsten ist, schwebt ein Pfeil, ich versuche Blitbarski und Laugentaler zu einem Doppelpass-Manöver zu bewegen. Ist aber ganz schön umständlich: Sofort nach der Ballabgabe muss der Feuerknopf gedrückt werden, um den anderen Spieler zu aktivieren! Aber man gewöhnt sich schliesslich an fast alles, weit nerviger sind da schon die ruckartigen Bewegungen der Kicker, die einem die Ballkontrolle nicht gerade erleichtern. Hinzu kommt, dass das Sprungverhalten des Leders auch nicht unbedingt ein Glanzstück an Realitätsnähe ist...

Aber ansonsten: Hut ab! Sämtliche Grafiken sind sehr hübsch gezeichnet, bei Regelverstössen taucht ein kleines Fenster mit dem animierten Konterfei des Schiedsrichters auf, der seine Entscheidungen in digitalisierter Sprachausgabe zum besten gibt. Das Schönste jedoch sind die Torszenen: Durch den Trick, diese perspektivisch entweder aus der Sicht des Torwarts oder des jeweiligen Stürmers darzustellen, gewinnt das Geschehen ungeheuer an Dramatik. Auch kann so der Keeper nahezu optimal kontrolliert werden, vom simplen Aufheben eines herankullernden Balls bis zum eleganten Hechtsprung ist alles möglich.

Im Turniermodus muss man sich zunächst gegen vier verschiedene (Computer-) Gegner behaupten, dann geht es ins Achtelfinale und immer so weiter bis zum Endspiel. Die ersten Runden stellen den Geübten Fussballer noch nicht vor nennenswerte Probleme, später wird es dann schon etwas kniffliger. Wer mal eine Rund verliert, kann aber dank der Continue-Option an gleicher Stelle wieder ins Turniergeschehen einsteigen.

Italia 90 ist gut gemachte Fussballunterhaltung, die besonders durch ihre Detailverliebtheit zu überzeugen weiss. Am Spielfeldrand sitzen Polizisten und Fotoreporter, und wenn mal ein böses Foul passiert, laufen tatsächliche Sanitäter mit einer Trage aufs Feld! Sieht man von einigen Ungereimtheiten (warum gibt es eigentlich keine Halbzeit?) und de Schwächen in Sachen Animation und Steuerung einmal ab, bleibt ein durchaus empfehlenswertes Soccergame. Freilich: An die Spannung und Dramatik von "Kick Off" reicht Italia 90 nicht ganz heran, aber ansonsten braucht es den Vergleich mit keinem anderen Programm zu scheuen. (C. Borgmeier)



World Cup Soccer '90 logo

The World Cup is upon us so Paul 'Hand of God' Lakin takes down his boots, pulls on a pair of baggy shorts and prepares to play Virgin's World Cup Soccer '90.

Hmm it seems like only fours years ago that England was doing really rather badly in the World Cup. Now it's here again which means suffering all the usual build-up, endless repeats of the '66 Final, Bryan Robson injured and more footie games than you can shake a jolly large stick at. Virgin is the company with the actual World Cup title, though their game is in fact a conversion of an arcade game called World Trophy Soccer. It was converted onto 16-bit by a Hungarian software house. Football's a funny old game.

At the beginning of World Cup Soccer '90 you select your team's nationality from the not terribly inspiring choice of Italy, Spain, Belgium and, surprise, surprise, England. (Clearly Virgin aren't intending to do great business to Glasgow or Dublin). Whichever team you choose, it's your skill that's going to be relied upon to get them to the final so picking Italy is no greater guarantee of success than pickingly lowly old England.

Having selected your team, you have to get through the preliminary rounds against the likes of Japan and the USA.
Once you've managed to get past this little lot, it's time to take on the big boys. Just when you thought you'd mastered the game, you find your defence left standing by pin-point passes from the West German forwards.

Apparently the programmers wanted Hungary to be the team you confronted in the final. The Virgin bods were less keen, especially when it looked as if the Hungarian team had about as much chance of being in Italy in June as Charlton Athletic has of staying in the first division. Realism held the day and it's Brazil that you'll be facing on the big day.

As well as attempting to battle your way thorugh to the final itself, there's also a high score table which records wins, losses and ties. Any victory by more than two goals gets you extra points so it's a good idea to give the USA a sound trashing (and then beat the soccer team).

Enough about the competition, what about the matches themselves? These are viewed from a sort of sideways-and-a-bit-above viewpoint. Player control is fairly standard, by pressing the fire button you take control fo the player nearest the ball. The fire button also controls shooting and tackling. However once the ball gets into the penalty area the game gets all distinctive looking. If you are defending then the screen is filled with a behind-the-goal view showing your keeper and the guy with the ball. The goalkeeper is then under your control. Equally when you are attacking, your view suddenly changes to a close-up of the opposition goal.

The programmers have obviously been influenced by the injury record of Bryan Robson et al. Infrequent fouls send players crashing to the ground with stars spinning round their heads if a player gets a real Nobby Stiles then stretcher bearers come rushing onto the pitch to carry him off.

Such brutal tactics are likely to draw a red card from the ref whose head and shoulders take up a corner of the screen. He also blows his whistle and shouts out various instructions such as "Free Kick", "Throw In", "Scrap The Poll Tax" etc.

The ref is a busy man 'cos World Trophy Soccer '90 is fast, furious and, when Lakin's on the ball, very dirty.

Amiga reviewPaul: Hmm well I think we used up all the good football quotes in the last issue. (Perhaps good isn't the word I'm looking for). So let's see if I can get to the end of this without saying "Over the moon" or "The lad done well".

World Cup Soccer '90 is one of this year's best additions to what is becoming a very crowded market. In appearance it's not a million miles removed from two of the other really rather good games that have kicked off this year, namely Man Utd and Emlyn Hughes Soccer.

As well as the nicely animated players, there are also some neat graphic touches such as the cameramen, policemen and dogs standing by the touchline. The animated referee's head is a good touch and actually sounds like a real ref rather than a speak your weight machine.

In view of this, it's surprising that the sound of the crowd is so weak, bearing an alarming similarity to a cat stuck up a tree. What makes more noise than a cat stuck up a tree? Two World Cup Soccer '90s stuck up a tree, that's what.

Like most good footie games the gameplay takes a bit of getting used to. My first game ended in a humiliating 10-nil thrashing at the hands of the Yanks. However, once I'd come to grips with the controls I was a happier and more successful player. There is loads of potential for skillful dribbling and well timed tackles. (Which probably explains why you lost 10-nil. Ed.)

Tackling is tricky but realistic. Instead of being obliged to launch yourself into a sliding tackle to get the ball, it's more a matter of sticking your leg out at the right moment and really hassling the man on the ball. Opposing players don't give the ball up easily though and it can be quite a tussle so you might just kick your opponent's legs out from under him.

With all the footie games around this year, good gameplay is just not enough - novelties are the order of the day if a game is to get noticed. World Cup Soccer '90 has its fair share of novelties some of which, like the stretcher bearers, are fun but a gimmicky. However, the goal sequence is fun and very effective. The sudden change in perspective can be a bit confusing but once the change is complete it adds a new dimension to the game. It works best if you are in goal. The keeper is agile and the whole sequence is really smoothly animated. If you're doing the shooting then things are a bit more tricky and I found it a lot easier to score if I shot from outside the area before the sequence had started.,

In the two player option the change of perspective is slightly less satisfying. Since in World Cup Soccer '90 football is a game of one half, there is no changing ends, so one player always views his own keeper head on and has to shoot while watching from behind the goal.

Real football enthusiasts looking for a realistic World Cup simulation might be a little disappointed by the format of the competition which is more like a knock-out than the mini leagues of the real thing.

As with the lack of half-times and the less than useful high score table, this is presumably a hang over from the game's arcade days. However, though it may not be the most realistic simulation of the actual competition, most gripes are likely to be swiftly forgotten once the players have run out onto the pitch. If you only buy one footie game this year then you'll not be far wrong if you buy World Cup Soccer '90.Stop



World Cup Soccer '90 logo

Virgin Mastertronic, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

Att long last for football fans, the World Cup Finals are underway with 24 nations competing for sport's most prized trophy. And, of course, to coincide with this international event are the usual throng of footy games. World Cup Soccer is the official licence of the tournament, so it's rather surprising that it doesn't include the real fixtures. Instead you play for either England, Italy, Belgium or Spain against a succession of progressively more talented teams. Alternatively two players can compete in a 'friendly'.

The action is shown by a bird's eye view with sides kicking up/down the scrolling pitch. The player under your control is shown by an arrow over his head: switching between players is manual. Dribbling is automatic, the ball being 'stuck' to the player's boot. When in possession, pressing fire kicks the ball in the direction the player is facing. Pressing fire when defending causes the player under control to attempt a sliding tackle. Care must be taken, however, as fouls always result in a free-kick or penalty and occasionally (on the Amiga only) a sending off.

When the ball gets near the either goal, the scene switches to a close-up 3-D view of the penalty area. The player in possession must shoot before a defender comes on screen. The goalkeeper comes under the defending player's control and can dive, stoop etc to try and save the shot.

Extra game options include sound volume, match time, and five difficulty levels.


Phil King Can someone tell me what this has to do with the World Cup? It may be the official licence but it lacks the official fixtures and teams! It wouldn't be so bad if the game was anywhere near playable but unfortunately it's the worst game of football since Ludlow Layabouts got beaten 12-0. The change of perspective in the penalty area is a good idea but it's incredibly hard to save shots as pinpoint accuracy and timing is required. Worse still is the player control. The ball is glued to your foot and you can only kick it at a set power, making intricate passing impossible. Of the two versions the Amiga game is marginally the better for its speed and the fact that players can get sent off; on the C64 you can foul to your heart's content!
Scorelord Football may be a 'funny old game' but it's nowhere near as daft as this. For a start, the 3-D goalmouth view doesn't really work and it's unfair anyway: the goalie at the bottom end is shown from behind, making it extremely difficult to save shots. Of course, you'd expect the sides to swap halves at half-time which would compensate - but they don't! The action is dull with very basic ball control, i.e. dribble with it superglued to your foot or boot it downfield. What's more, there's only six players! And no option to change formations. It's a pity really, since the graphics aren't bad - The Amiga ones are a bit garish, but the C64 ones are really quite nice.