Amstrad Action1st October 1986
Published in Amstrad Action #13
This is the first time I've seen a Rugby Union simulation on a computer, despite the plethora of simulations for other sports. The reason for that is probably the difficulty of recreating a sport that can be as free-flowing as soccer and yet have set pieces not dissimilar to American football. Unfortunately I think this has failed to overcome those problems, ending up more like a kick-and-run soccer game than a rugby game requiring lots of intricate passing.
The matches are played on a pitch that covers three screens, viewed from the side of the ground. At either end are the posts where tries and drop-goals can be scored. When the player in possession runs oft the edge of the screen, it flicks to reveal the next section of pitch. There are seven players on each side and you control the one nearest to the ball, who will have different coloured hair.
The player in possession has three basic options: run with the ball, kick it or pass it to another player. Passing is extremely difficult because of the confusion of players on screen, so the most effective method of making progress is to run with the ball till an opposing player closes in, and then whack it up field trying to regain possession afterwards.
Once in front of the opposition's posts you can go for a dropkick or try to go over the line for a try. If the opposition are in possession you can get the ball back by running into them or by tackling from behind. Each successfully performed score or tackle will produce a cheer (white noise) from the crowd. After a try is scored the conversion takes. It's shown on a panel inset on the pitch where a cursor aims the ball, but the gusting wind may blow it off course.
There are two set pieces in the game for when a ball goes out of play: the lineout, which stretches all the way across the pitch, and the scrum. You can't affect cither of these - they happen automatically. It's just a matter of trying to pick up possession afterwards. One or two players can play, and both can take part in the five-nations champion-ship, where each team plays four matches. There are also two skill levels which affect the speed of the computer players, the harder level making them tougher to catch.
The major criticism of the game is that intricate passing manoeuvres are impossible and the game just becomes a matter of kick-and-run to score points. There are other niggles as well: the ball is round, the figures are small, the set pieces leave you with nothing to do and the screen is a mass of confusing action making it difficult to tell what's going on. Despite all that, the game can still be enjoyable if you play with two players, particularly in the championship option. However even that won't interest you for long because this just isn't rugby, it's more like a soccer game with a couple of frills.
If you 've ever played or watched rugby you'll probably wonder what it's got to do with this latest Artic classic. Rugby, as I remember it, was a fairly complex game involving a great deal of passing and a limited amount of kicking. Artic however think it's a simple boot-'em-up. No rucks, no mauls, no three-quarters to pass to - just kick the thing!
First Day Target Score
40 points against computer.
Green Screen View
No worse than the colour version, hut then what could be?
P. Two-player championship can be fun.
P. The first rugby simulation.
N. Plays more like soccer than rugby.
N. No intricate passing possible.
N. Set pieces allow no player involvement.
N. The worst rugby simulation.