Monday, 11 August 2014

World Cup Hockey (C64 review)

Developer: Donald Campbell
Publisher: Artic Computing
Released: 1986 (approx)

Here's an obscure field hockey game that I've struggled to find information on.

World Cup Hockey gives you two main options to choose from (World Cup or Practice Mode) and I was gob-smacked to see that it supports between 1-9 players! Once you start a match the graphics are unintentionally hilarious as the hockey sticks could easily be mistaken for Hoovers and each character looks like a mix between a geisha and Princess Leia. This could be overlooked if World Cup Hockey played well but unfortunately the controls are not up to the task. The game automatically switches to the closest player but it causes many issues (especially on defence) as it always picks a player just behind the CPU opponent and leaves them with a free run on goal. While not being particularly intuitive, the trick is to keep moving your nearest 'geisha' away from the CPU until you get the player you want to control. There are also a number of oddities in the game including players who pass to themselves after the ball has gone out of bounds, and goalkeepers / defenders forgetting what position they're playing and trading places on the fly! Don't expect to hear any music or sound effects apart from the high pitched bleep when the ball goes out of play. Despite its flaws I did manage to beat the entire game on my first attempt (using the trick mentioned above) and the brilliant final screen just says: 'Player 1 Victorous!'

Unfortunately World Cup Hockey's strange gameplay mechanics and lack of challenge mean it has very little replay value. I can imagine it being somewhat fun in 2 player mode but it's not worth your time as a single player experience.

Random trivia: One of Artic Computing's developers was Charles Cecil. In 1990 he founded Revolution Software that went on to develop the popular gaming series Broken Sword.

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