ST Format1st March 1990
Published in ST Format #7
Kenny Dalglish Soccer Match
Kenny Dalglish's fame must be close to every schoolboy's dream - to become the most capped played of your country, play in the World Cup Finals and go on to manage the most successful football club in the world. Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could take the role of such a star? Well, now you can thanks to Impressions' Soccer Match, the follow up to Soccer Manager, featuring real time matchplay instead of management skills.
Play can take place between a solo human player and the computer, or as a four-player league between friends. Once all the options like team names, speed and ability have been entered, the game commences.
You control the reds (naturally), kicking initially from left to right. Movement is in the usual eight directions, and kicking the ball is carried out by pressing the fire button and moving the joystick in a particular direction.
At the beginning and at half-time, Kenny gives some friendly advice to the players (he is the manager after all) as well as his reaction to goals scored (both for and against). After the final whistle, the result is displayed and Kenny gives his appraisal of how the match went.
The impression given by Soccer Match is of a product hurriedly cobbled together. The introductory screens are iffy for a start, looking more like the kind of pixel-portraits sent in by schoolchildren after half an house messing about with Delas Elite than the work of a professional graphic artist.
Things don't improve when the game starts. Similar screens appear every time a goal is scored or the ball crosses the touchline, albeit with an attempt at animation. The small sprites wobble badly across the pitch and the ball bounces like those "Impossi-ball" kids toys from a few years ago.
Anco's Kick Off showed that fast smooth scrolling could be achieved while moving a number of sprites around the screen, but to look at Soccer Match you'd think it had never been written.
The sound is equally dire, kicking off with a bleep-blip soundtrack, the likes of which hasn't been heard on the ST for a good while. The in-game effects are no better, the bouncing of the ball is reminiscent of someone kicking a door and the whistle sounds more like a squeaky bath toy than a referee's blast.
The program tells you that pressing "M" while the game is underway plays a tune, which (surprise, surprise), turns out to be the intro tune! Argh! Help! Where's the volume control?
In any football game, you want to get stuck straight in and start hammering the ball around. However, getting to grips with kicking the ball proves extremely difficult thanks to one of the most ridiculous control systems ever installed in a soccer game. Just kicking the ball straight in front of you along the floor is a real chore.
This doesn't mean you'll get thrashed as soon as you start because the computer-controlled players seem to be playing their own version of football. They send the ball in any direction they feel like - backwards, sideways, upwards - every which way but goalwards.
Some attempt has been made to add atmosphere with Kenny's witticisms and playing tips, but they're nothing more than irreverent drivel to break up the sections.
There are a lot of soccer games available at the moment, many of which seem to be trying to beat Kick Off at its own game. Kenny Dalglish Soccer Match is the latest in line and fails miserably to keep up with the pace set by Anco's winner.
The graphics are poor, sound is weak, and it lacks all the necessary ingredients for exciting gameplay. Even the glorious leadership of Kenny can't save the day!