Friday 18 September 2015

Heads Up / Soccer Football (Vectrex review)

Developer: GCE
Publisher: GCE
Released: 1983

Heads Up (known as Soccer Football in Europe) is one of only two sports games officially released on the Vectrex, the other being Blitz.

The two options on offer are a single player game against the computer or a two-player competitive match. On defence tackling is handled automatically and switching between players is performed with Button 4. On offense you can either press Button 3 to shoot or 4 to pass. The controls are responsive and passing is especially easy and accurate. Weirdly, the game doesn't adhere to all the rules of regular soccer as if you score a goal your team gets to kick-off when play resumes! Also, the computer always dribbles the ball and never passes so each match never feels as free-flowing as it should. There is a catch-up system whereby defenders run slightly faster than the player with the ball but it's extremely easy to trick the game by continually passing the ball in front of you; doing so will slow down your opponent so you can easily regain possession! When an opposing player shoots you can take control of the goalkeeper by holding down Button 3 to move up and down. However, whenever your goalkeeper gains possession of the ball he always kicks it straight ahead; there's no way to choose your angle and many times it will land at your opponent's feet for an easy tap-in goal. Three skill levels are available but the first is insultingly easy and the CPU team is lucky if they even cross into your half of the pitch! The second level has a nice balance and the third is too tough as the computer goalkeeper always seems to know where you're planning to shoot! There is a nice scaling effect though as players towards the top of the screen appear smaller than those at the front. The developers did a good job of differentiating between the two teams by having one illuminated more than the other and the pitch scrolling is also nice.

Heads Up is a rudimentary soccer game with some rather uninteresting action in single player mode. However, the controls are solid and there's still some fun to be had if you can rope a friend into playing a multiplayer match!

Random trivia: The game's overlay only shows two buttons in use; however, the screenshot on the box appears to be an early mockup as it displays actions for all four buttons!

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