Hello readers. After last month's debacle with the Fumous Five completely taking over my review of Sleepwalke,. I've decided to make sure I appear in the review of Match Of The Day. To this end, I've asked Stuart to take Jimmy Hill off for a spot of lunch, and now, provided I can get this false chin into place (grunt) I'll be joining Des Lynam in the reviewing corner. There. Now don't give me away, will you, Spec-chums?
(As seen on TV: Des Lynam's cheekily grinning face and the amazing chin of (ahem) Jimmy Hill. The theme music fades out.)
Hello there viewers. Hello Jimmy.
(Tee hee!) Hello Des. Nice jumper.
Thanks Jimmy. So - Match Of The Day, the computer game. What's it all about?
Well Des, I'd have to say it's pretty much a management sim really. You put on the knobbly cashmere coat of the manager of a fourth division team, and over the season have to hoist them up the ladder of success while avoiding the slippery snakes of failure.
Nicely put, Jimmy, if a little obscure and not entirely football-related. So we're
talking lots of lists of numbers, then?
We-ell, yes and no Des. Y'see, this management sim is actually rather well presented. The entire affair is icon-driven and daringly devoid of BASIC. There's the bare minimum of hanging around for 'Please Wait' messages. And the lists, as you put it, of numbers are rather nicely disguised with little graphics and pointers and things.
And this Is the game here, is It?
No Des, that's another jumper. Good try though. In fact, this is the game - it's entirely devoid of jumpery substances, such as wool, or 80% polyester. It does, however, have lots and lots of icons. It's rather a clever system, you see - you sort of drag the option you want from the icon bank on the right cite screen over to a free slot in your diary on the left.
And are there any icons for jumpers?
Shut up Des. If you look at the annotated screenshot over there, you can see exactly what each icon does. But back to the game. Basically, it's very much like any other management sim - you try to put together the best side you can, arranging training sessions and buying and selling players, all the while juggling the club's books. What makes it stand out from the rest of the (incredibly large) pack is the slick presentation. Never has a management game looked so good. Except for the match highlights, which look like a badly-coloured game of pinball. And the pictures of, erm, us, which are a bit duff. I (ahem) look rather angry, and you look bald and mad. But at least you can turn the graphics off and play in the traditional manner,
I have to say, Jimmy, that I disagree with you over the presentation being the only thing that makes the game stand out. The gameplay has lots of subtle touches. For example, your players are apt to get a bit shirty if you don't recognise their footy talents and insist on playing them in entirely the wrong positions, and their performance suffers as a result. For another, there are loads of scouts, physios and trainers, and the cheaper but less reputable chaps are apt to make a mess of things. Sort of gets you deeply involved with the team and adds a lot to the game.
Hang on, what's going on? That's not Des Lynam-speak.
Well I have to admit, Jimbo. that I'm not Des Lynam at all. I am in fact, Rory Bremner, humorous impressionist, Speccy enthusiast and all-round family entertainer.
Erm, I've got a confession as well. I'm actually Jon from Your Sinclair. What a turn-up, eh? Tsk. And we need a big ending for the review. Tradition demands a sort of big payoff line to the whole thing. Oh, hello Stuart.
I couldn't stand it any more, I just had to hit Jimmy Hill several times with a very big stick.
That'll do nicely.
Match Of The Day
Price: Tape £10.99 Disk £15.99
No, this isn't a Desmond Lynham simulator (although he is in the game), its a football management sim. Buy, sell and train players as you attempt to form a team capable of leaving the lower divisions and entering the dizzy heights of premier league-dom.
Rather than have a really dull 90 minutes of computer-simulated footy, you're shown your teams efforts in the form of highlights on Match Of The Day, where Jim Rosenthal, Des Lynham and Jimmy Hill pass comment. This makes for one of the best football management games in quite a while.
"Football is not a matter of life and death, it's more important than that!" - Recognise that most famous of footy quotes? Well anyway, whether you're an aspiring Bill Shankly or not you can now strut your stuff against the best managers in the game to see just how much you know about running a club. Will you rise all the way to cup glory? Or will you become the holder of the spaccer central trophy?
Match Of The Day is not a football sim (honest) it's a management sim. Which suits me just fine 'cos I think they're much more fun (oh god, some one who likes football management sims at last! - Big Al). You are given control of a sad team languishing in division four (my real life fave's Barnet) with the job of transforming them into something really special.
As manager there are a number of different methods of doing this: Train your lads to a high pitch of readiness, buy new players (or cosh 'em over the head and kidnap them... not!), sell duff ones for cash or, if all else fails, just sit back in your leather reclining chair with your sheepskin coat on and hope. A lot.
The last option is attractive but doesn't really work. Also you can't buy players if you don't have any cash so you need to keep a close eye on your team's expenses. The only way to make money is to keep up your gate receipts, and the only way to do that is to put on a good performance. It's a proverbial vicious circle.
When you think the squad is sufficiently trained and the dream squad is finally ready (or as close to it as possible) for the big game, you can select your finest team members and send them out onto the pitch to do battle.
Jim Rosenthal and Desmond Lynam present the game highlights to you, as you watch and cringe over your team's shortcomings with no direct control over them at all. After the game you're given the rest of the day's results and shown just where they leave you in the league placings. Now it's time to give your useless squaddies the abuse they deserve for the day's performance and it's back to business, training for the next match, scrounging players, listening to boring scouts (who actually look like boy scouts) and so on. It's all go as a footie manager isn't it?
The graphics used in the management part of the game are colourful but simple but then they don't need to be anything else. It's in the match highlights section where graphics really come into play. You're given an downward vertical view of the proceedings in true Kick Off style, and although the sprites are not exactly spectacular they do the job very well. Sound is really a bit of a non event but then it usually is in footy sims.
PLayability, always an important factor in any game is perhaps even more relevant in management sims where shoddy of difficult features quickly lead to boredom.
Price: £10.99 Tape, £15.99 Disk
Reviewer: Paul Anglin
ALAN: I don't particularly love football games, especially not management ones. They're too complicated, take a long time to play and aren't very rewarding. However match of the day is quite smart. It's simple, enjoyable and challenging and kept me at my Speccy for a lot longer than any other game of its genre.
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