At the beginning of the year, Empire released Gazza II on the console. Now tape and disk users have the chance to play the Stunner-awarded game - but will these versions stand up without the benefit of the console's enhanced hardware?
In fact, the gameplay is identical. Uncomplicated by rules such as offsides and fouls, it's a bog standard footie game on the simplest level. The player nearest the ball is under your joystick control, while the other team members run alongside for moral support. You can run along in eight directions, so everything is very 'diagonal'. This limits the placing of the ball somewhat. This is particularly irksome in kick-offs, corners and throw-ins.
Booting the ball can be done at a variety of strengths. The longer Fire is held before releasing. the better you blast it.This system works well, and passing the ball between players is accurate and makes the game immensely playable.
One or two can partake in a match. Options allow a variety of control methods, so comfortable two-player arrangements can be found. The match length may also be varied from two to ninety minutes.
In a one-player game the computer's skill level is selected by the team it plays. Albania is the weakest; Brazil the strongest. The computer plays well, the skill level affecting the speed of its players. It does make mistakes, however, occasionally booting the ball out of play. It's refreshing not to have an infallible opponent - a fault with many a game in the same genre.
The scanner at the foot of the screen adds hugely to the game. This radar-like device shows the relative positions of all 22 players, and is a huge aid in passing to your team mates.
As ever, the best fun is had when there are two players. The team strips are well chosen - there's no danger of a confusion. There is annoying bug where the teams swap colours at half time though.
The obvious difference between this and the console version is the look of the game. The sprites, though well drawn, are not as detailed. The pitch looks drab - it did on cartridge too - but scrolls around smoothly and quickly.
Gazza II can't really be described as a soccer sim. It's only loosely based on our national sport. It's flawed in many respects and has some annoying quirks. Despite these niggles, it's nevertheless a brilliantly playable game.
Gazza II is a brilliant game in tits own right, but not strictly speaking a true footie sim. And there are far too many niggling bugs...
First Day Target Score
Thrash Frank five - nil!
Not bad sprites considering their size, but what a dull pitch!
Great soundtrack - sounds like something from Match Of The Day.
Grab Factor 81%
Couldn't be easier to pick up, but it's a different story putting it down...
Staying Power 78%
You won't play every day, but great to play every now and again.
A brilliantly playable game that suffers from a few too many quirks.