International Football is a much-awaited program: I first saw it at Christmas 1982, when the footballers merely moved under their own steam and operator intervention was not possible. The interesting fact is that the program is novel; it owes nothing to arcade games. It is a three-dimensional version of a seven-a-side football match, for use on the Commodore 64.
It may be played by one player against the machine, or by two players against one another with the machine keeping the score.
The game is played over a 400 unit time-period by using one or two joysticks.
This cartridge-based game comes in the usual attractive Commodore packaging, and is reasonably robust. There's a sheet of clear and easy to follow instructions and the game is simple to learn.
At first, two teams' representatives appear on the screen in large size, and you may change their team-colours by using the function keys.
You then use a function key to choose one of nine levels of play if you want to play against the machine. Another function key sets up the game for use with a black and white television.
You press the Fire button, and the action starts. It is immediately obvious that is no ordinary program when the teams run onto the pitch and take up their positions. The three-dimensional pitch is amazingly realistic. Your view is partly from above, as if from the stand, and you can see only the middle of the pitch at this time. The footballers run with realistic action and the realism is even more marked if you get about three metres from the screen. The perspective of the view is excellent.
The whistle blows, (A remarkably accurate sound!) and your game starts. You can move the player nearest to the ball using any position on the joystick, and the footballer you are controlling changes colour for easy identification. Bringing your player into contact with an opponent's player in possession of the ball leads to a successful tackle. And there are no fouls in the game.
Moving your player enables him to carry the ball once he has possession. When you kick the ball, there is a satisfactory ball meets boot sound.
The high resolution multi-coloured graphics are stunning. As you move your player up and down the pitch, your 3D view is moved sideways, until the goal and goalkeeper come into view.
There are some delightful touches, such as advertising boards around the ground and the way the crowd moves and roars. Whenever the ball goes out of play, the nearest player of the appropriate team takes the throw, or corner kick, if you press the Fire button.
The line-up of players for a corner is remarkably realistic, as is the action of the ball. Not only does each bounce produce a satisfying sound, but a shadow moves under it when it's in the air, arriving precisely underneath it when it falls to earth.
You have a degree of control over the goalkeeper. You hit the Fire button and he dives or jumps, according to the type of shot coming at him. Throughout the action, the scores and remaining time are displayed on scoreboards.
At half-time, the players run off the field and reappear after an interval, accompanied by the referee and linesmen.
At the end of the game, the teams leave the field and then return, line up, and the queen presents a cup to the winners.
The competition among program designers for the Commodore 64 is now fierce, and International Football ups the odds considerably, changing the standards by which C64 games will be judged. The use of colour, sound and high resolution graphics astounds even very experienced users and to the uninitiated, the effects are breathtaking.
There are sufficient levels of difficulty to keep the solitary player happy, and the two player version, being a game of skill, is highly addictive.
It makes excellent user of the characteristics of the Commodore 64. At only £15, it represents formidable value for money.