Saturday 6 September 2014

Fantastic Soccer (C64 review)

Developer: Ian Copeland
Publisher: Zeppelin Games
Released: 1990

I had high hopes for Fantastic Soccer once I learnt that it was programmed by Ian Copeland, the guy who wrote World Soccer.

The game greets you with a nicely animated title screen and an impressive rendition of the famous 'Here We Go!' football chant. Unfortunately, this brief moment is the best part of an otherwise terrible game! You'll quickly notice that there are no cups or tournaments to take part in, and only single games are available. There are eight teams to choose from but there's no Manchester United or Tottenham Hotspur - instead you get Zep City and Ian's Team! Once you've chosen your team you'd expect the CPU opponent to do the same but they prefer to just call themselves 'Computer' rubbish is that?! Don't expect things to get any better once the match starts as you'll immediately notice that the action is too zoomed in, making it difficult to see where your team-mates are. The AI is ridiculously fast and will constantly slide tackle the ball away from you a split second after you receive it. To top things off, the sound effect that plays during a tackle is like someone breaking their leg in a severe thunderstorm and it grates on you very quickly. The game automatically switches to your nearest player but odds are that it won't be the one you actually want to control. While you're busy wrestling with the joystick your computer opponent will be storming their way down the pitch and you'll resign yourself to being behind on the scoreboard. Don't worry though, 99% of the time they'll get behind the defence, have a clear shot on goal and blast a scorcher towards the corner flag! Most of the matches I played ended up in a draw; when this happens you'll fall victim to the dreaded 'Game Over' screen as the game refuses to go to extra time or penalties. To be honest, it's probably best for all involved!

Simply put, Fantastic Soccer is an anaemic football title due to its lack of options and frustrating gameplay. Despite the nice title screen it has zero redeeming qualities - avoid this one at all costs!

Random trivia: Brian Jobling founded Zeppelin Games in 1987 when he was just 17-years-old. As of 2014, the company is still around (although now called Eutechnyx) and is known for specialising in racing games such as Big Mutha Truckers and 007 Racing.

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