Personal Computer News11th March 1983
Published in Personal Computer News #001
It looks as though Thorn-EMI wants to be big in microcomputing. The company is no longer just the faceless contractor that builds so many British micros, but now hopes to make a killing in software.
Its Soccer cartridge for the Atari 400 and 800 shows how serious it is.
Soccer lets you vary the number of players controlling each team. You can have up to four joysticks, all on one side, two against two or whatever. Each side can also be computer-controlled.
There's a time limit for the game, and you can set the Atari's skill from unbeatable to very unbeatable.
For most people, Soccer will be a surprisingly realistic game. But what is impressive is the feat of moving a game for the IntelliVision's fancy hardware onto a machine like Atari.
Soccer starts with a weak title screen that stays there for a set time. It precedes every game, but there is no way to skip it.'Joystick O' lets you select all the possible game options, and anyone who things you need a mouse to make fast, accurate selections should try this.
Soccer displays a three-dimensional football pitch about three times the width of the screen. If the ball leaves the screen, the pitch scrolls sideways as on Match of the Day.
There are 22 animated players, a rolling ball, pitch-markings and so on. Each game is accompanied by realistic kicks and whistles, though it might have been brightened up with a little cheering. During play, each joystick controls one player. Pressing the Fire button shifts control to the free player nearest the ball.
Picking up loose balls (it does sometimes stop dead on the pitch) and tackling is a simple matter of running over the ball. Passing and shooting are done by running in the right direction and pressing Fire.
Soccer is basically a schizophrenic one-man show. To pass, you run at the man you're aiming for, press Fire, wait until the ball gets near him, and then press Fire to take control of him. It's even more complicated with two, three or four joysticks on the same side, as people keep 'becoming' each other and getting lost.
Practise with your friends before you take on the Atari, not the other way round. It never loses a tackle, always picks up the ball first time and switches between players instantly and accurately.
The real design success of the program is its support of up to four joysticks. Whether you're playing two against two or four against hopeless odds, Soccer is a very social arcade game. It's also going to sell a lot of joysticks.