Sinclair User

By Electronic Zoo
Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in Sinclair User #104


Ah, Subbuteo! Long summer afternoons spent flicking wobbly little players around a cardboard football pitch, arguing with your little brother and ending up throwing footballers at each other.

No-one knows why it's called Subbuteo (except Mrs Subbuteo, presumably), but it's one of the traditional English pastimes which have been knocked on the head a bit by computer games, so it's nice to see Goliath having a kick at reviving it.

And a pretty good job they've done too. OK, there's absolutely no attempt made to create any illusion of 3-D; I suppose that would have made it too difficult to judge distances and angles, so the playing area is seen in a straight top-down view which reduces the players and the ball to featureless little circles.


The gameplay's the thing, though, and here Goliath do a good job of retaining the subtleties of the game.

You can choose to play either a single game, or enter a league competition, naming teams as you require. There's a wide range of control options, including all kinds of joysticks, definable keyboard and computer players; and you can choose the length of each half of the match from 1-45 minutes, select a playing formation from a list of three, and set the computer's playing skill at any of three levels.

So to the match itself. The pitch fills most of the screen; at the top are the scorecards and the digital timer. No big surprises here; the main difference between Subbuteo and other football games is that here only one player can move at a time; you don't get any "intelligent" control of your other players by the computer.

If you win the toss for kickoff or when it's your go otherwise, by combining various joystick movements and button presses you have to scroll the screen to the position of the ball, select a player (not necessarily the one closest to the ball), move a small white cursor indicating the direction of kick, then set the power and spin using a sliding meter which appears at the side of the pitch. It's all a bit fiddly, but there's no time pressure on you because nothing's happening while you dither (the computer, incidentally, seems to dither even longer).

Once you kick, your player flies off (hopefully in the direction of the bell), scattering the opposition and punting the pill vaguely goalwards. The computer will tell you if you have made a foul, used an illegal player, gone off-side, scored a goal or whatever, and will give you a choice of a defensive or offensive move for your next go.

It takes some time to get used to the tactics of Subbuteo (for instance, you sometimes have to manoeuvre a player into position behind the ball before you can contemplate taking a shot), but if you have played the original game this may come more naturally. If you're used to more conventional footie sims Subbuteo probably won't drive you wild, but this is an excellent implementation of a classic "board game".

Overall Summary

All the frenetic finger-flippin' action with none of the nail-bustin'

Chris Jenkins

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