England Championship Special (Grandslam) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing


England Championship Special
By Grandslam
Commodore 64

Published in Zzap #76

England Championship Special

It's funny, old and entertains millions of people worldwide without telling a single mother-in-law gag. It's football, and for some it's not just a game. Just ask England manager, Graham Taylor, who must somehow win the European Championship or else be crucified by the tabloids!

Maybe you'd fancy a challenge like his - but without running the risk of becoming a national villain. In this case, England Championship Special allows you not only to pick your team but also to play for it.

You can play a friendly for England against any other European national side played by the computer or a friend. Most importantly you can enter the European Championship tournament. There's no need to qualify; you go straight to the finals with two groups of four teams - which you can choose yourself. Each group plays 'round robin' and the top two teams from each go forward to the semi-finals.

Before a match you get to pick your formation and team (from a squad of real England stars) - and your opponent's! Not that it makes much difference in the match. The various players don't seem to play any differently and you don't know who you're controlling anyway as the player's name isn't shown.

Basic player controls include the usual ball-glued-to-foot dribbling, although at least when you reverse direction your player realistically turns through 180 degrees instead of 'flipping'. When you kick the ball, strength and height are determined by how long you hold down Fire. If the ball's in the air you can press fire to attempt a header. You can also slide-tackle opponents, although this runs the risk of a foul. Unfortunately, the resulting free-kick is a farce: a wall of your own players lines up in front of you!

Defending is made more difficult by the way control automatically switches to the nearest player to the ball (including the goalie), with the player you were previously controlling stupidly running away. This means that in two-player games, you can easily beat your opponent's defence by zigzagging left and right to keep changing which player he's controlling! This forms the general pattern of play as without a radar scanner accurate passing is difficult.

Although two-player games can be hectic fun, England's tournament option offers little challenge and there's a disappointing lack of relevance to the team selection. It's as mediocre as the real thing, I'm afraid.

Learn The Lingo

Here are the cliches every international manager should know, and what they really mean...

1. "I'm as sick as a parrot" - I've just been chosen as the new England manager 2. "The lads are all over the moon" - I've lifted their Saturday night booze ban 3. "Our striker's been scoring well at his club" - Our striker's been scoring well at his local nightclub 4. "There's no such thing as an easy international match" - We've just been totally outplayed by Norway. 5. "The lad's heart-broken" - He did two reckless fouls and ended up with a gammy knee

Second Opinion

This is yet another in a seemingly endless line of overhead view footie games and by now you'd expect them to start getting it right.

The graphics are as bland as we've now come to expect, I suppose there's restrictions on the detail and number of sprites, which makes gameplay all important.

England promises some innovation with walls, team selection and so on, unfortunately the lack of a radar scanner makes realistic passing difficult, player names never come up and glitchy replays serve only to remind you how much better MicroProse Soccer was. By comparison with World Championship Football this isn't bad, but neither is it much of a winner.


Presentation 53%
Select match duration (2 to 90 minutes), weather on/off, action replays on/off, music/FX on/off. Play friendly, practise penalties, enter tournament. Dodgy digitised pics of the England players.

Graphics 58%
The usual overhead view, surprisingly slow moving players.

Sound 32%
Poor intro tune, very sparse FX, crowd sounds like the sea!

Hookability 64%
Disappointingly sluggish action but okay in two-player mode.

Lastability 40%
The tournament is easy to win and the gameplay too crude for lasting appeal.

Overall 50%
Second division material.