Way back in February 1988 we ran a news story on a forthcoming release from Piranha, Roy Of The Rovers. A few months later Piranha sank without trace and the game licence went with it. Gremlin decided to get on their skuba gear and dive down for the licence. They found it and now, a year after the news story, we have the game.
Just before a vital fund-raising match, the Melchester Rovers football team has been kidnapped. If enough funds aren't raised by the match, then Melchester Rovers will close and the ground will be turned into a pile of rubble (Spurs got their two points back, I see). Roy Race is the only one they didn't get and now he must rush around town looking for his kidnapped team mates. Before the kick off he must return to the football ground and then play with however many players he's rescued; he might even have to play alone. Guess who you play?
The game is split into two sections - the adventure and the five-a-side football match - but if you want to you can just play the match. In part one you wander around Melchester using a mixture of keyboard controls and pull down menus. Across the top of the screen are four menus: command, object, special and help. The rest, is taken up with a flick screen view of the streets of Melchester.
With the command menu you can run, walk, smile, chat or fight. The special menu is used to wait, go home or visit mum (what a nice boy you are!). Other options appear occasionally. When at home you can brush your teeth, to keep that wonderful smile of yours, or rest. Finally you can get some clues with the help menu - it costs points though.
By wandering around you'll pick up clues and maybe track down one of your team mates. Supporters of the opposing team and hoodlums lurk around the town trying to stop you from rescuing your fellow players. Whether you've found them all or not, by 7:30pm you have to load the football game and then play for the sake of the club.
The football game itself is fairly standard stuff, using the flick screen approach rather than a scrolling pitch. There are no goal posts to shoot at: you just have to guess where the goal is but it's not difficult. One or two players can take part in the match. Your computer opponent is tough to beat and the odds are stacked against you if you have fewer players than the computer.
A good tune plays as the game loads, but there are none in the game itself. Sound effects are adequate and there are nice effects in the football match.
Mixing a football game and a menu-driven adventure has worked well to produce a fun game, although you're only likely to play the adventure until you've solved it and then you're left with a football game. At that point you're better off with Matchday (AA 28, 86%).
Rescue two players.
Last month Codemasters had a crack at Ocean's Matchday II crown as the football game. Now it's Gremlin's go. Still, the novelty value of the 'kidnapping' hocus-pocus is a welcome addition. A good shot.
P. Colour sprites and scenery.
N. What happened to the goal posts?
P. Good title tune.
Grab Factor 76%
P. Challenging adventure...
P. And above average football game too.
Staying Power 67%
P. Tough computer opponent.
N. You only get to play football when the adventure has been solved.
P. Nice mix of strategy and arcade game.