A quadruple quantity of footy fun
Producer: Code Masters Gold
Football Boots: £8.99 cass
Author: Peter Williamson, animation by Sean Conran, music by David Whittaker
Code Masters' first full-price game is actually a package of four games. As well as the typical 11-a-side game, there's also street soccer, indoor 5-a-side soccer and soccer skills.
The first three involve playing a match in various surroundings. Each scrolling pitch is viewed from overhead, but at a slight angle for a pseudo 3-D effect. One player is controlled and if in possession of the ball, dribbling is automatic. Control of a player can either be manual (by moving a marker over the desired player) or automatic (the computer selecting the player nearest the ball - although by pressing fire, it changes to the next nearest).
Unlike Match Day II, there's no 'kickometer'. Instead, the strength of kick is determined by the direction and speed of the player. Movement of players is also made more realistic by the inclusion of momentum, so if running fast in one direction they take time slowing down before turning.
Another unusual (but realistic) feature is the ability to foul players by tackling them from behind Wimbledon-style. Luckily, in both the 11-a-side and indoor games, a trusty referee is on hand to award free kicks and penalties. But in street soccer, fouls result in arguments between the teams, portrayed by speech bubbles! Another unique feature of street soccer is the makeshift pitch, namely the middle of the high street! Obstacles such as walls and even a car, can be used to bounce the ball off -this version also brings a new meaning to the phrase 'fouling on the pavement'!
Another novel feature is that up to four players can play simultaneously, two per side (three can also play: two on one team against another single player). And if you don't think you're fit for the match, you can do some hard training in the soccer skills game. Events include dribbling around cones, penalty-taking and goalkeeping. You can also lift weights and do various other exercises in a race against the clock.
All in all, although matchplay isn't quite as fluent or varied as in Match Day II, four games in one represents very good value for money - and what other footy sim offers four-player action?
PHIL ... 80%
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: smoothly scrolling pitch, with four very distinct sections
Sound: an assortment of suitable tunes, effects and the essential ref's whistle
Options: manual/auto player selection. Up to four players can compete simultaneously
I'm not a great one for footy games, in fact I hate them but this isn't too bad. The porky footballers thunder around the pitch very well, and certainly put the boot in. But if you get bored with the footballing action you can test your fitness in the gym with a grueling training session. Not a brilliant game perhaps, but certainly well-programmed and bound to appeal to football hooligans everywhere - see Phil's comment.
The first in Code Masters' new series kicks it off to a good start. All four games are excellently implemented with detailed, monochrome sprites and backgrounds, plus the odd splotch of colour between games. There's the usual Code Masters jolly music and plenty of sound effects. What I liked best, though, was how the kids argued after a foul in Street Football with comic-strip expletives deleted. A worthy alternative to Match Day II.
I always take notice of the press quotes for a game, don't you? Try this one for size. "These four games are absolutely brilliant! Everything you could possibly want in computer soccer - these games have it all! Amazing payability!" Sounds great, doesn't it? Now, guess who said that about 4 Soccer Simulators... Yes, right in one! It was those selfsame Darling brothers. Are we really interested in what they have to say about their own game!
Anyway, the company's gone straight for the full-price market with this one, with the most daring of all possible scams - an attempt to out-match day Match Day. And remarkably, it's nobad at all.
Of course there aren't really four soccer simulators at all - there's one basic model with variations - but it's quality not quantity that matters here. For instead of aping Match Day, like every other soccer sim under the glowing orb, these Code Master laddies have flipped the whole thing 90' first this way and then that way, giving us a bird's eye view from above. Otherwise of course, the gameplay is much the same as normal - the player you control, if you're player one, has a little '(1)' over his head, and you can flip back and forwards between players in the usual way. Anyone who's sampled any of the other sims should have no trouble working this one out.
The variations too are novel. Game one is a full 11-a-side football match, with variable lengths of game, skill levels and all the usual guff. This, naturally enough, is played on a green pitch (pay attention at the back there - you'll see what I mean later). It's fast, fun and quite tricky, even on the peasiest level possible.
Game two scythes this down to an indoor five-a-side game. Immediately the pitch is smaller, and coloured grey (understand now?) and there are no throw-ins, goalkicks or corners - the ball just bounces off the walls. There's also no offside, but you'll concede a free kick if you venture inside the other teams goalmouth.
Game three is even less formal - it's Street Soccer, played in your very own backyard. The basic game is the same - the perspective, the moves and the players look identical - but instead of playing on a field, you soon find yourselves dribbling around cars and houses and punting the ball into a nearby tree, thus ending the game and causing your fellow players to beat you up. Only the absence of knife-wielding psychopaths and doggie doos detracts from the gritty realism of the whole scene.
Finally, there's a soccer sim that's not really a soccer sim at all - Soccer Skills. This has you practising certain footie skills - goalkeeping, dribbling (stop that Nigel), sprinting (guess how you do this, folks!), and penalty taking (tricky). Then when you feel completely pooped, you head for the gym and a tough workout, or in my case, a heart-by-pass operation. This involves press-ups, bar jumps (I'm good at this one!) (Not that sort of bar, idiot. Ed), weight lifts, sit-ups, bar lifts and a state funeral to round it all off. If you still have any energy left you can try circuit training - essentially a collection of some of these exercises against the clock.
Naturally this all takes rather a long time to load up, let alone play (you get two cassettes in the package), but the variety of it all is quite refreshing. And when you compare the basic 11-a-side model with rubbish like Peter Beardsley's Heap Of Biggies, the whole package comes across as really spanking value for money. It still doesn't touch Match Day 2, of course, but then it doesn't really attempt to - the overhead perspective makes it a quite different game, I'd probably even give it nine - it's a fairly marginal one, admittedly - if it weren't for two things - the smiling pics of Messrs R and D Darling on the front cover. So sorry lads, you'll have to be satisfied with a bright and bouncy eight. Anyone got a chainsaw?
Gasp! It seems like only 18 months ago that this was out on full price. (It was only 18 months ago, you clot. Ed) It was CodeMasters' first entry in the blockbuster market, and the fact that it didn't exactly revolutionise their release policy shows how well it must have done. But actually, for what amounts to just another attempt to out-Match Day Match Day, it's nobbad at all.
Of course there aren't really four soccer simulators at all - there's one basic model with variations - but it's quality not quantity that matters here. For instead of aping Match Day like every other soccer sim under the glowing orb, these CodeMaster laddies have flipped the whole thing 90° first this way and then that way, giving us a bird's-eye view from above. Otherwise of course the gameplay is much the same as normal, and anyone who's sampled any of the other sims should have no trouble working this one out.
The variations too are novel. Game One is a full 11-a-side football match, while Game Two scythes this down to an indoor five-a-side game. Game Three is even less formal - it's Street Soccer, played in your very own back yard, complete with cars, houses and trees to punt the ball into. The final game is not really a soccer sim at all, but a Soccer Skills exercise session, both for practice and against the clock.
Needless to say, all this is breathtaking value at three nicker. It still doesn't touch Match Day 2, of course, but then it doesn't really attempt to - the overhead perspective makes it a quite different game. On me 'ead, lad, on me 'ead.
4 Soccer Simulators are just that. Four games that attempt to simulate some aspect of good old British soccer. The four programs are, in order of appearance on the two double sided cassettes:
11-a-side soccer. In at the deep end with the full blown match. The game is viewed, as all seem to be nowadays, as an overhead bird's eye view, with your player highlighted by a little figure one that floats ominously about his head. The pitch scrolls in all eight directions, or rather flip-scrolls and unlike some previous games, your current player is always on-screen. You can change between players by centering the joystick and pressing fire.
The only problem with this section, and two of the other three, is the almost complete lack of any playability. Everything else, bar the game's slowness, isn't too bad, but to say that it's impossible to do anything else other than roll the ball along the ground wouldn't be an understatement.
It's not that the game's difficult. Perish the thought. It's just that it's bloody hard to control. The slowness adds to that, plus the poor joystick response and the fire button which doubles as a 'change control to the next available player' key. Also the 'kick the ball a short distance in front of you' key makes it a little difficult to get anywhere. At least all the rules are there. The fouls are quite funny; the opponent goes for the ball, kicks you, and you go A over T onto the grass.
The following two programs, indoor Soccer and Street Soccer, are exactly the same and suffer from the same faults. The only differences being the backdrops and varying amounts of players.
The final event, the Soccer Skills program, is am much more worthwhile load. It consists of seven events, all designed to get you fit and healthy. Well, get your on-screen person fit and healthy and knacker your joystick. Four of the events are the usual Daley Thompson type sit ups, weights, bar lift and push ups. The other three are useful events and help you practise for the game proper. Dribbling has you controlling a ball around a line of cones, going in and out in the best Bobby Charlton style. This helps you get used to the feel of controlling your man and also helps you get used to dribbling. Penalties and Goal practise give you the chance to take shots at goal and also give you practise at saving them.
Graphics are small, but quite detailed, and monochrome graphics have been used to good effect.
The sound is nothing, but the normal bumps here and there and a whistle sound effect at half and full time.
This would be quite good were it a budget product, but it isn't. 4 Soccer Simulators is Code Masters first entry into the full price market, and from what I've seen, I'd say stay with what you're best at.
Label: Code Masters
Reviewer: Tony Dillon
Codemasters throw in four games in one.
Not so much a game, more a way of unloading four games in one package. Three spectacularly similar football games, along with a training section bearing more than a passing resemblance to Daley Moustache's Olympic Wossname. The four games are not multiload, and so are entirely separate in nature and on a side each of two cassettes.
Firstly, there's 11-a-Side Soccer, a conventional enough soccer simulator with the usual 90 minutes of computerised fouling, cheating and "shin injury" acting. The game responds quite well to your control, and you stand a reasonable chance against the computer. Aside from the fact it can run faster than you, it's actually reasonably easy to tackle and beat. One tricky thing is passing, since you can't see the field beyond your rather limited viewpoint, so actually laying off the ball to another player before Chopper Harris has your nuts on a tray is a trifle problematic. It does have throw-ins, corners, fouling, penalties, offside and the like, so rates as a proper simulator.
Indoor Soccer has the same player graphics and gameplay, but takes place on a pitch with walls around it, so the ball bounces, and only five players a side. Street Soccer differs in that instead of a nice neat rectangle to play in, you've got cars, trees and houses to negotiate. One thing it doesn't have is the little man who steals your ball or calls the bobbies so you have to go home.
Finally there's Soccer Skills, where you train yourself up. Basically it consists of dribbling the ball around cones, taking and saving penalties, lifting weights, and doing press-ups and sit-ups. The scope of the games is fairly limited, but the implementation is pleasant and playable, and the package represents the best value for money in a football game.
Reviewer: Phil South
C64/128, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Out Now
Spec, £8.99cs, £12.99dk, Out Now
Amstrad, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Out Now
Predicted Interest Curve
1 min: 0/100
1 hour: 90/100
1 day: 90/100
1 week: 90/100
1 month: 60/100
1 year: 50/100
MACHINES: C64, Spectrum, Amstrad CPC
SUPPLIER: Code Masters
PRICE: All versions £9.95 cass
VERSION TESTED: Spec
Code Master's first full-price game looks like four completely different games in one package with a linking theme - football - rather in the style of a compilation. In fact, what you get are three games that are exactly the same apart from a few minor differences, and a training section, which does prove to be marginally useful.
On the first side of the first of the two tapes in the packaging is the training. This incorporates a split-screen view of a gymnasium. to train your player you move the joystick in a way not unlike the Epyx sims to get your on-screen persona to do things. Move the joystick in the shape of an arch to get him to jump over a bar, pull down and then up to get him to do press ups, etc. After you've gone though the routine joystick wagglers, you do some real training, and are given the chance to participate in all manner of events to improve your skills in the other three games. You can practice dribbling and passing, and even try your luck at penalty taking and saving.
It would be pointless for me to describe the other three games separately, simply because they all look and play exactly the same. The only differences are the back drops and the amount of players on screen. In street soccer and Five-A-Side you have a quintet of players, while in full match, you get the full complement of 11-a-side.
As I've already said, the backdrops are different too. In street soccer, you play in a street, bouncing the ball off cars, houses etc, and 5-a-side has you playing inside a walled centre. Guess where you play the full match.
The graphics aren't bad at all. The players move quite realistically, and the backdrops are detailed, but the ball moves terribly and the screen flip-scrolls. Wouldn't it have been nicer to do smooth scrolling lads?
The controls are appalling. Fire both shoots and changes player when you don't want it, and doesn't when you do. Just getting your man to run in the direction you want to is an effort. The response is far too sluggish for a fast action football game, so in a way it's a good thing its not fast action.
That's what ruins the game, the speed. It plays at an incredibly slow rate, which makes it unplayable. 4-Soccer Simulators is basically a package of four sub-standard games. If you want a good football game go and get Microsoccer or Emlyn Hughes Soccer.
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