Uchi Mata, as Judo Champ Brian Jacks told us in the March Your Sinclair, means 'Inner Thigh Throw' in Nipponese. A vicious thing to do to a person, I think you'll agree, especially if you don't warn the poor twerp first. Judo is obviously a sport for those well disposed towards a bit o' physical violence.
A judo simulator? Well, it's ail original idea. It takes the form of a judo contest, where you've got to grab and throw your opponent with a legal move. This means you can't just push him over, or stamp on foot and then knee him in nose. Nope, it's got to be a genuine sporting judo throw, or you get disqualified. It's the nearest thing to playing judo without getting your back broken, or so the blurb on the cassette would have you believe. And it s all authentic 'cos our mate Brian Jacks has been consulted on the construction of the scenario and design.
On screen you have the game area, a score board at the top and strengthi/grip indicators, plus a little box for the referee to appear in. You throw your opponent by grabbing his Judogi (his jacket silly) at the chosen moment, getting a firm grip, and pushing the joystick around in a similar direction to the way you'd throw the bloke in reality. You are scored on your technique and if you win the competition you're awarded a new belt.
So that's the theory, what's the practise? The thing that struck me first about Uchi Mata is that the men who do all the throwing are a bit on the flickery side... well, a lot flickery actually. So much so that sometimes it's a little difficult to see what's actually going on, specially as the action moves so quickly. In fact the whole game goes at quite a lick, making it a challenge just to get your grip in time to avoid being decked. But for all this the game doesn't suffer too much and once you can bring yourself to ignore the flickering bits, it's quite absorbing. The throws are complex and detailed, allowing a broad range of expression on behalf of the players - you know, falling flat on their back, leaping up in the air in triumph, that kind of caper.
Uchi Mata is quite good fun, but it seemed a bit unfinished to me. Shame, 'cos with a bit of tickling up this could have been a surefire hit. Presentation is everything these days, so it's dropped a point or two for that. But it is a good simulation of the appliance of judo science.