The World cup reigns supreme! Italy 1990 is US Gold's entry into the footy stakes, and not bad either.
First move is to set playing options: choose keyboard or joystick, then pick a one or two player friendly match as a warm up, set the playing time or enter the big event itself. Next choose the country you wish to represent and go play ball.
The players are seen from a bird's-eye perspective, but their bodies are in view. The player under control is denoted by an arrow, this changes only when another player is deemed by the computer to be nearer the ball than the current one, or you hoof the ball to another player. The power of the shot is determined by how long the fire button is held down, coupled with the players' individual strength. When they arise, throw-ins, penalties, corner kicks and goal kicks add to the fun factor. Though the referee's ability to hand out yellow and red cards is a bit frustrating if you foul like crazy.
Italy 1990 is nicely packaged with background info on the history of the World Cup and a real chance to win tickets to the big match. The graphics aren't exactly stunning, but its fun to play, and that's all that really matters..
MARK ... 78%
'It's as if there are more World Cup games around at the moment than the footy teams in the actual championship itself! Good news is that Italy 1990 is a well-deserved qualifier. Wade through all the options at the start and you're in a decent footy match. The action is certainly fast - the player sprites are a decent size and bomb around the pitch. They're well animated too - you could get out of breath just watching them! One niggle is that when the opposition boot the ball way down the pitch you never know where your players are - you have to wait until one appears within the playing area. The on-screen presentation is superb; the option program, though taking up one whole side of the tape, is easy to use and graphically very detailed. This is a smart product - a neat game and a brilliant 68 page booklet which brings the atmosphere of the season into your home!'
RICHARD ... 82%
Well, did we win? I haven't the foggiest! I'm writing this three days before the Argentina/Cameroon match has kicked off! All of which is a bit of a shame for US Gold really - Italy 1990 missed the YS review treatment last month by a footballer's bootlace. Boo hoo! Anyway, it's here now, so better late than never, eh, Spec-chums?
Of course, at this point, I could go on about how I'm a real footie fan, how much I love soccer games, and how thrilled I am to be given the chance to review this game. But seeing as that would be a complete lie I don't think that I'll bother. I mean, soccer games aren't exactly big news, are they? Just check out JD's complete (and utter) guide to footie, two issues back, and you'll find that we've had over 60 (yes, 60) of the blighters in the past. And that ain't including the last issue which was bursting to the staples with even more of the pesky things. So having to play yet another one hasn't exactly made my day. If you narta mean. But hang on a mo - isn't Italy 1990 the only game which has actually got anything to do with the World Cup? Oh, except for World Cup Italia 1990, that is. And countless others probably. But you know what I mean. (No. I don't think so. Ed) Perhaps it's still got a bit of hope in it after all.
After fighting off the mound of free posters, competition entry forms and World Cup information booklets (quite neat and well put together actually - my Dad's already stolen my copy!), you'll eventually uncover the tape (or indeed disk) and slap it into your Spec. The first thing to do is to pick your team. Footie fans'll love this bit because everything is true to the real thing, so you get all the correct teams, players, venues and dates as in the real tobasco. Then it's time to choose your formation, pick your team (with little digitised piccies showing you what position they play - very impressive, thank you) and away you go, either playing against a chum in a friendly, or competing in the very World Cup itself.
A quick(ish) load from the tape and it's kick off. Yep. folks, underneath all that World Cup blurb, Italy 1990 is no more than a Matchday look-a-like. Not that that's a bad thing, of course. I almost found myself enjoying it for a bit, until I luckily came to my senses (and not a minute too soon). Y'know the sort of thing - you control the player nearest to the ball and run (or rather jerk) up and down the scrolling pitch, tackling (even slide-tackling), passing, heading, chipping the ball about and occasionally scoring the odd goal here and there. It's really quite exciting, believe me. And a nice little touch is the little animated sequences that tell you what's just happened if there's been a goal kick or something.
In case you were wondering, apparently all that business concerning skill factors and strength that I mentioned earlier applies here. Supposedly, the stronger the player the further he can kick the ball, and the skill factor determines how easily he can tackle or keep the ball. Trouble is it's a bit hard to tell how true that is because everyone looks the same (in glorious monochrome, in fact), and even though I chose the best team with the best players I'm still crap and losing six-nil. Oh dear. Never said I was very good at footie games, though, did I? So seeing as I'm so hopeless at this sort of thing I decided to call in an expert - my little brother - who managed to polish the thing off on his first game and win the World Cup within three quarters of an hour. Surprisingly, this wasn't because he's a pure genius, merely due to the fact that Italia 1990 is a tad on the easy side.
And there you go. Not really much more to say. It's a footie game, and one whose job it is to follow the World Cup to its absolute limit. But strip away all the outer makings of a well-presented game and inside you'll find little more than your average soccer offering. It's still quite fun, if you're into that sort of thing, but for those of us looking tor a decent game at the end of the day (and one with a spanky two-player option into the bargain) it's probably a better option to stick with that old classic Matchday 2 instead. Hmmph.
(ED'S NOTE I'm afraid I think Rich is a bit wrong about this actually - I reckon he's been pals with Jonathan Davies too long and Jonathan's rabid hatred of footie games has somewhat addled the poor chap's mind. For what it's worth I'd say Italy 1990, despite being too easy, is the best of the World Cup offerings around at the moment and a far cry from the utter disaster of last time's World Cup Carnival (if anyone remembers that). For a start, despite the fact that Virgin got the only official World Cup licence, this one actually plays much more like the World Cup itself- you're not limited to the ridiculous choice of playing one of only four teams for instance (including the pathetic Belgium but excluding Brazil!). The presentation helps too - like the score boards showing when a corner or goal kick is coming up and the nifty booklet you get thrown in with the package. I know what game I'll be playing this year.)
Hey, did I ever tell you about when I used to play two-a-side football in the park with my chums when I was little? (Yes you did, for the whole of last month's Skate Wars review. Painfully tedious it was, too. Ed) Oh. Bang goes another interesting anecdote, then. Might as well talk about the game for a bit, eh?
In a blinding stroke of marketing brilliance, Kixx have noticed that the European Championships have just happened and released a football game at just the right time to catch all the associated media hype. Not so brilliantly, they've released a game that's actually about the wrong tournament altogether, but we'll forgive them for now, cos with the way the Speccy market is at the moment, beggars can't be choosers.
So the World Cup it is, and Italy 1990 gets off to a good start with some neat presentation in the style of a TV show, like commentators introducing each match and flashy electronic scoreboard interludes whenever the ball goes out of play. Sadly, that's pretty much where it stops being good. When you get into the actual game, you'll find monochrome sprites which are almost completely indistinguishable from each other dashing around (admittedly in a jolly fast and smooth manner) on a pitch so colossal that it's practically impossible to tell where you actually are on it at any given time. Yep, it's that big.
This, and the lack of a scanner, means that there's only one safe way to play. You just get the ball, do a bit of a zig-zag run up the pitch with it until you see the lines of the penalty area coming into view, then turn diagonally and belt the ball past the useless computer goalkeeper. You can't do any clever passing stuff because there frequently aren't any other players on the screen, and even when there are you can't tell if they're on your side or not. Mind you, the computer teams are so crap that you don't actually need any clever stuff to rack up easy 14-0 victories in your first games.
Now for the really bad news. Italy 1990 features the most stupendously ridiculous multiload this side of The Spy Who Loved Me. Even with 128K, after every match you have to load in a lengthy section to get the results of the other games in the tournament, then rewind the tape back to the start and load the actual match section again! Which pretty much puts the tin lid on it, really.
While our discerning and thoughtful reviews rarely comment on the boxes in which our games arrive, the casing of Italy 1990 warrants a special mention.
Of the dozen players depicted in the grizzly front-of-box montage, only three appear free from mental disorder: There a pogo-dancing Argy, a high-kicking German, Freddy Mercury in an Ireland jersey and a flying Dutchman with astonishing hair. All the rest are sliding, diving and lunging for balls that simply aren't there Crackers.
Fortunately, apart from the barmy load-a-match (even in 128k) set-up, Italy 1990 is perfectly fine, if a little quick.
Once your control options are satisfactorily in place, it's time to select your country and squad. Each player you highlight has a set of variables: skill, speed, aggression (lordy!) and strength. Pick the right men for the job and you could be on your way to a healthy cup-winners' bonus.
If you re out for a real challenge, you can opt to play Cameroon, position all the worst players in the wrong positions, and test your skills to the absolute limit.
A quiff-sporting TV presenter announces your next match and the kicking begins in earnest. Even with a heavenly selection of Brazilian players, I found myself receiving a sound drubbing every time.
Unlike many recent footies, Italy 1990 is damned quick. The players hare around the pitch slogging the ball superhuman distances. It's darned difficult to intercept the ball, 'cos it moves at such a lick.
The action is frequently slowed down by shots of the scoreboard, indicating when a goal kick, corner kick, goal etc, has occurred. It'd be nice if there was an option to remove this feature, as it slows an otherwise speedy game quite considerably.
Ball control is adequate, but there still no 'trap' option. Once you're running with the ball, you've got to keep running or boot it. No chance of stopping, finding your man and passing. Sometimes it feels more like playing basketball than footy.
Quite unlike it's rather shoddy 16 bit counterparts, the Speccy version of Italy 1990 is really rather fine. Makes a nice change, doesn't it.
Label: US Gold
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter
And he's running with the ball, he beats one defender, two, three but finally gets brutally taken down by a vicious tackle. Not before he passes the ball to the striker though, who boots in into the back of the net. Ah yes, it's another Sunday afternoon's frantic football antics.
Italy 1990, as the a might suggest, first arrived on the scene during the 1990 World Cup, among a plethora of other football titles in what was without a very mixed bag of ball games. Although Italy 1990 didn't stand out from the crowd on most fronts it did (and still does) have one advantage - it's fast.
While other games have you happily plodding around the field kicking the ball when you're good and ready this one provides real speed challenge. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. It does increase the game's competitiveness but because there's no stop and hold facility, allowing you to actually stop with the ball and pick a player to pass it to, it can lead to frustration too.
There are a full a of international teams available, so take your pick from the best, including (the now sad) England, (the truly international) Republic Of Ireland, (the very Ruud) Dutch and the (nutty) Brazilians. The gameplay includes heading the ball, chipping the ball, normal and sliding tackles and penalty or corner set pieces.
Graphics are more than reasonably clear bu a little plain during actual gameplay. The game is, however, punctuated by frequent visits to the nice man in the tv commentary box and the digitised scoreboard, which announces corners, free kicks and scores (usually for the other team for the first few game but you'll soon get the hang of it).
Italy 1990 is not the perfect footie simulation but if you're interested in obtaining yet another one it's worth a look as a fast arcade style footie sim with no managerial frills.
Price: £3.99 Tape
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter
ED LAURENCE: There are a lot of budget re-released footie games around and I'm not satisfied that this one is up there with the rest of them. It just doesn't have the overall attractiveness of Man UTD, or Emlyn Hughes. Not a bad arcade style footie game though.'
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