Around 1982, Commodore released what was probably the first quality sports simulation on the C64, International Soccer. Until now this game was only available on cartridge, but CRL have breathed new life into this classic by releasing it on the common formats of tape and disk.
International Soccer is one of the best football simulations around though. Compared to some of the more recent additions to the soccer sim band wagon, International Soccer does lack some features such as slide tackles and diving headers. International Soccer also shows its age as it is purely arcade, with only a simple title screen. Other soccer games nowadays have a form of interaction with building the team.
The control method is much the same as most team sport games, the player nearest the ball is moved by you while the rest of the team are computer-controlled. When a player comes under your control, his shirt changes colour so that he can be distinguished from the rest of the team. Under your guidance, the player can tackle, pass, cross, head or shoot. The header is more of an accident than a set move, if the ball lands on your head you can happily wing your way down nearly half of the pitch with ball bouncing merrily on your head, safe from the opposition.When you hit the fire button your player chips the ball in the direction he is facing and hopefully the computer will steer one of your team mates towards it. More often than not though, your players seem to turn their backs on the pass and run! If the pass is received, that player will now come under your control and dribble the ball at his feel. When you dribble, you move much more slowly than normal, and this leads to the opposition catching up.
When a member of the opposing team gets too close to the goal for comfort (i.e. the penalty area) you get control of your goalie. The computer automatically moves him into position for you, then all you have to do is push fire and the direction you want to dive in, and (hopefully) a save will be made.
If the ball should stray off the pitch, a throw-in, corner or goal kick is awarded. On a throw-in, you can move your player around as normal, while the computer prepares to throw from the line. When you press fire the computer player releases the ball in your direction. A corner works in a similar way, though a goal kick involves the ball being blasted down field at no particular person.
The computer team has nine skill levels ranging from piece of cake (level 1) to first division (level 9). Or you can have a two player game. You can adjust the colour of both of the teams' strips to suit your own preferences.
Each half lasts for about three minutes, with a quarter minute break in between. At the end of the match, the winning team line up on the field while a woman comes on and hands the winning captain a trophy.
The graphics are incredibly blocky and dull, as well as poorly animated. The sound consists of bouncing noises for the ball, the ref's whistle and crowd sounds.
International Soccer is almost exactly the same now as it was all those years ago, the only exception being the ad-boards now read 'CRL 88', yet it has lasted very well, and is still just as much fun. I don't like the price tag, as in some computer shops you can still buy the original cartridge for a fiver now. Still, a game for soccer enthusiasts.