League Challenge
by Hypa Hypa Designs: Nigel Edwards
Atlantis Software Ltd
Crash Issue 38, March 1987   (1987-02-26)   page(s) 112

Once again it's your chance to manage your very own soccer team. League Challenge puts you in charge of a lowly Fourth Division club, and sets you the task of building them up into a powerful force in the world of football.

Play kicks off with the newly-installed manager naming his club. The computer then assigns a panel of 12 players, divided into three categories: defence, midfield and attack, each has a personal fitness level rated between one and nine.

A season consists of 15 league matches, plus FA Cup fixtures. The computer then totals the skill levels of the chosen team, and adds up the total fitness of all players. It then displays the team's combined strength alongside the strength of the opposition. From these figures, the manager can work out if he still needs to strengthen the team.

The team's training schedule is chosen before each match. There are three different levels of training: Moderate; Vigorous and Intense. As their names suggest, these vary in effectiveness - consequently they also become progressively more expensive.

Saturday's match follows the 'weekly' preparations, with the game displayed as an animated action sequence. During play, the manager can only sit tight in the dugout and wait for the verdict. The results of all the league matches are displayed, and the league table is worked out.

As team manager, the club's financial position is in your hands. Incurring debts of over £250,000 bankrupts a club, sending the team back to its starting position at the bottom of the league.

At the end of the season the top three clubs are promoted and the bottom three demoted - a cash bonus is awarded to the manager depending on the season's performance.

Control keys: menu format, using keys listed
Joystick: n/a
Responsiveness: not applicable
Use of colour: effective for text highlighting, poor during 'match' sequences
Graphics: poorly drawn matchstick-men footballers
Sound: minimal spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: ten

'This is a real step backwards for football management games. It has been several years since ADDICTIVE released their classic Football Manager, and still after all this time no-one has managed to improve on it. League Challenge is slow, unrealistic and very monotonous. There is nothing about it that even remotely impresses me. The 'action' is tedious, and the bits in between are pointless. I couldn't recommend this. Even at its low price it still offers bad value for money.'

'As if the old Football Manager wasn't bad enough, ATLANTIS have come up with a sub-standard product that's even worse. The graphics don't really deserve the name - they are very simply drawn, inaccurate and unanimated. There are no new boundaries broken - it's just a case of progressing through a few menus and hoping that you'll win. Different team selections make little or no difference to the outcome of the matches. League Challenge holds little appeal - even for the most earnest football fan.'

'League Challenge is boring. The only respite from the drab text-only screen displays are the completely awful match highlights. The characters are badly drawn, the animation is abysmal and the colour choice is even worse. As far as football manager games go, this one is very average, and certainly contains nothing new. Fans of the type might well find it reasonable (especially with its price tag of £1.99), but I think it's very poor.'

Value for Money33%
Summary: General Rating: A frustatingly tedious football management simulation.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 15, March 1987   page(s) 28

Earwig-oh! Earwig-oh! Earwig-oh! Yep, footie fans, here comes anotherin this month's load of footie games. Can you take on the responsibilities of soccer managership and lead your team from the bottom of division four to the top of the league? This game'll put you to the test.

It's a cheap and cheerful cut-down version of more thorough (and expensive) management simulations. You must pick, train and field your best team, while at the same time coping with the transfer market, injuries to your players and the different skills of your opponents in defence, midfield and attack. A cinch, eh?

There are four divisions of sixteen clubs and you always start at the bottom of division four. You only have eleven players in you squad to begin with, so you'll have to start trading early in the transfer market to build up your numbers to the maximum of fifteen. Be careful that you don't plunge to more than £250,000 in the red, though, or you'll be relegated back to the bottom of division four.

The game goes through midweek transfers, training and the match itself. Here you have a chance before the game to change your team to counter your opponents strength. Once the match is over the other results come in and a new league table is given, so that you can see whether you've gone up or down.

It'd be churlish to chastise this cheapie as a cheapskate ripoff, but if you're really interested in the great game, maybe you'd be better off saving your money and going for the real thing!

Value For Money4/10
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 60, March 1987   page(s) 86

Atlantis' League Challenge is not quite Football Manager at not quite £2.

Four divisions with 16 teams in each, one cup competition and excruciatingly slow results sequences and league table compilations are evidence of the low rent nature of this game.

The latest manager signing on at the job centre is Orient's Brian Docherty. I chose him for League Challenge and Big Bri - as the East London club's fans had dubbed their cigar-smoking, champagne drinking manager - left his club languishing in the bottom four of the third division. Having spent lavishly on players and despite pulling Orient out of the fourth division he put the club into the red.

Your managerial chores include, deciding on the team's training, buying and selling players, picking the team and cheering n' hollering: "Save it" or "Score! I paid £90,000 for you, Rush you dodo," as the computer plays out the brief highlights of your games.

Not too much to do and a season can really drag by, waiting for another game's results. The aim is to pack the team with skilful players and then whip them into shape by training and judicious resting, before matching defence, midfield and attack points against your rivals.

The computer weighs the odds heavily against you - even changing the rules(!) and some very bizarre tactics are needed to succeed.

"What about your allegation of cheating Brian?"

"I can't comment as I am putting all the facts before the FA Committee but Bury fielded more than 11 players in their away game against Orient."

"And the sacking...?"

"The players are, of course, over the moon."

"Was there no warning?"

"Well Elton, I knew I was in trouble after the chairman's vote of confidence in me"

Label: Atlantis
Author: Nigel Edwards
Price: £1.99
Joystick: none
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Terry Pratt


Summary: There are better football manager games but it's probably tough to find one tougher. Only for the extremely patient.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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