Iron meets iron in this preview of Domark's futuristic gridiron spectacular.
"January 2022 - the last human to play the game of American 'ootball, Dave 'Rocket' Ralston, makes his final appearance, playing wide receiver for Houston. His performance on this day is tragically cut short when he is decapitated by a facemasking violation."
This is an excerpt from the annals of the evolution of Cyberball.
The crowd is silent in anticipation; the stadium throbs to the sound of heavy steel tracks manoeuvering into position on the grid; the timer is primed to zero, and to the racous wail of the siren, the game begins.
Three hundred and fifty pounds of steel and highly explosive material is punted upfield, and waiting in the end zone to catch it are the, hopefully, safe hands of one of your own players: a twenty foot tall robot.
Set in the 21st century, Cyberball is a 'no path, no gain' cruncher of a game for one or two players. The first choice you have to make is which league you want to play in. For novices, the Instructional Division provides well-balanced teams with accurate passers and good runners. But if you want to be a little more in control, pick one of the large selection of squads from the Pro-League and you'll soon find out where their strengths and weaknesses lie.
For those of you who don't know a great deal about American Football, a good look through the comprehensive game manual is a must before hitting the field, but seasoned gridiron fans will love the detail that has been painstakingly programmed into the game to make it surprisingly like the real thing.
Picking a team from such great names as the Chicago Killers or the Miami Terminators, you and your partner are pitted as the offense and defense against an opponent of the computer's choice. You can't play against each other unfortunately, but there are more than enough random plays from the computer to make up.
So, you've been brought down on your own 30 yard line after receiving from the kick-off. With over 30 running plays and just as many passing plays to choose from, you can make your offensive game just as varied as you like. This is advisable because if you don't, the computer will get used to your strategy and wipe the floor with you. A Fender Bender or a Slammer should put the opponents on their guard, and throwing a Corner Pocket could well see you on the way to a touchdown.
There are also optional plays available which allow you to run or pass for those who just can't make up their minds.
On each play, crosses on the field show clearly where receivers are heading, allowing you to time your passes to perfection. When the ball leaves the quarterback's hand, it is up to you to control running backs and receivers wisely.
Got the hang of it so far? Right, this is where it starts getting tough. Starting off your offensive play, you will notice a pink fine running tantalisingly across the field ahead of you. This is the defuse line. Each time a play is made, the ball of explosive material you hold in your hands gets hotter, going from cool to critical in a number of stages. Crossing the defuse line will bring the ball off the boil, as it were.
But, if you fail to cross the line, make sure none of your players are holding the ball when it explodes. On the other hand, when you're on the defensive, picking the right play should ensure the explosion occurs in the computer's court. In the defense mode, you are also given a much needed turbo boost facility to catch up on those speeding offensive attackers.
Scoring is very similar to the real game, with six points for a touchdown and one or two points for the conversion, depending on whether you throw the ball or kick it into the end zone.
But make sure you succeed, as the ball automatically turns to critical following a touchdown, and you only get one chance.For each score, money is added to your team fund, which helps to replace players that are beginning to smoulder through wear and tear.
Controlling all of the plays using the joystick may look incredibly complicated to start with, but soon enough you'll begin to work out your favourite moves and start notching up the points.
The main advantage that the CPC version has over the larger formats is the speed of play. Unlike the Amiga game, which has an angled overhead view of play, the CPC graphics look directly down onto the teams which may lose some of the 3D effect, but look wonderful and greatly improve playability.