Your Sinclair1st November 1990
Published in Your Sinclair #59
I'm afraid that my knowledge of 'Subbuteo' is limited to merely being aware of its existence, but ignorance has never stopped a YS reviewer before. A few quick questions round the office revealed that a) it's something to do with little footballers which you have to 'flick to kick' and b) the World Championship was on Channel 4 a few months ago. Anyway, the Spectrum version has arrived (minus instructions) so I'd better have a peek at it.
Hmm. Well that's that out of the way I think I'll go and have a spot of lunch.
Eh? You want to know all about it. But I'm hungry! (Oh, all right then.) It's like no football game I've ever seen before, that's for sure. And there aren't too many football games you can say that about. You see, we're not dealing with actual players here but little chaps standing on hemispheres which wobble about but don't fall down (or are those Weebles?) Mind you, they're more like little red and blue blobs in the computer version, which reinforced my expectations of a pretty straight-forward footie game.But then I played it. You see, in Subbuteo I'm afraid you cant lust dive in and have your blobs zooming all over the place - it's all a bit too strategic for that. When it's your turn to play you've got to select a player and choose a direction to flick him in by moving a little cursor about. Having done that you've got to work out the strength of the flick and the 'swervyness' by watching these bar things go up and down and pressing Fire at the appropriate moment. Hopefully the player will then be sent wobbling towards the ball to hit it, sending it off in the right direction.
What happens next depends on a number of factors. Don't ask me what they are - I just know there are lots of them. I've made a sort of 'guess' at the rules, which seem to be as follows...
If you manage to hit the ball you've then got 'control' of it, and when the other player's turn comes around he's not allowed to touch it. All he can do is play a 'defensive flick' to put his blobs into a better position. You carry on kicking the ball until you do something wrong like missing it, kicking it off or committing a foul by hitting another blob at which point the other player gets the option to send your blob back to where it started and takes control of the ball). There are all the usual free kicks, throw-ins and goal kicks along with something called a 'positioning flick' which I couldn't quite get the hang of.
There's probably a bit more to it than that (things certainly didn't seem to follow this routine all the time), but I've worked it out as far as I can. There are a few options before you start, of course. You can play a single game, a league game or load in a league. You can also choose to play either another player or the computer. And that's about it really. Nothing too taxing.
So what we've got is more of a 'ballistics' game than a footie one. To become proficient you need to get the hang of all the angles and things. Unfortunately, however angles and things are the one thing the Speccy really knows lots about, so it tends to play every shot perfectly every time. It's sickening. So you're better off in two-player mode on the whole (at least then you'll actually get a go at flicking ball yourself).
Although it's very much a thinking mans footie game, things tend to move at a pace that should satisfy most action fans once they've got the hang of the wacky flicking system. It's also quite slickly presented, although the little blobs don't give it a lot of scope for incredible graphics. And that's about it really (at least that's about as much as I've understood).
I think it would be safe to say that this is a pretty accurate representation of Subbuteo. I haven't actually played the real thing, of course, but I enjoyed this so much I think I might go out and purchase a set. (Only kidding.)
A different but enjoyable approach to footie, and a funnier old game than most.