Euro ’92 wasn’t the most memorable of tournaments if I’m honest… unless you’re Danish. Then again, if you’re English you remember it for all the wrong reasons. One look at a teamsheet would probably invoke some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder to an England fan of a certain vintage.
In a move that almost seems typically strange by now if you’ve read this blog before, the official game was only released on the Master System. Mind you, publishers TecMagik dealt almost exclusively with Sega’s 8-bit console so no surprises there, then.
First of all, I have to admire the boxart for its prescience in predicting that the victors would wear red shirts with white trim. Even more impressive considering that when the game was being developed, Denmark would not have been taking part due to Yugoslavia having not yet entered a state of civil war and general fucked-upness.
Note the branding as well – my first two words of this post are a misnomer as this was the last European Championships not to come under the Euro moniker. They did just nick the logo and mascot from the ’88 finals though, only changing them from German to Swedish colours.
Right then, let’s Photoshop our heads onto some turnips and have a butcher’s at the game then. Switch it on and alongside the Technicolor rainbow that is the TecMagik logo and a copyright screen, we are treated to a piece of so-called music that I’m pretty sure would count as a breach of the Geneva Convention. Things then get slightly better with a nicely animated sequence of Rabbit (Really fucking original name, guys. Some sources would have you believe he’s called Berni -including the title screen itself for that matter – but no, that’s what he was named four years earlier) emerging from his warren and playing keepy-uppy. I don’t want to spoil too much for you but this is probably the second-best thing in the game.
Then we have the menus to deal with. Shit.
The layout itself is just fine and there’s a more-than-respectable array of options – everything from wind speed and weather to the location of the radar and choosing a referee. No, it’s the controls. WHOSE FUCKING IDEA WAS IT TO USE A MOUSE CURSOR? Especially with a D-pad as mushy and imprecise as that found on the Master System joypad. Then choose your team on a map of Europe I would have drawn as a six-year-old, again with THE FUCKING MOUSE CURSOR. Good luck trying to select a nation smaller than England because unless you have the patience of Job and all the saints put together, it ain’t happening.
Yep, in case you couldn’t tell it’s a Kick Off knock-off. This means it already scores minus points in my opinion due to my hopefully-by-now-infamous hatred of Anco’s series. Players are always chasing the ball because as soon as they try and trap it, it flies off 20 yards away. Also like Kick Off, the pitch is far too big… or maybe it’s the right size and the players are all like Tom Thumb.
Controls are pretty much as you’d expect – one button (sorry, can’t remember which as I was losing the will to live) will either pass or tackle, the other shoots or sprints. Of course, this is all in the context of whether you have the ball or not but considering your first touch, the former is only the case approximately 0.000001% of the time.
Now my favourite part of the game – the speech bubbles. In lieu of a proper HUD, players and referees (decked out in American style uniforms for some unfathomable reason) talk to themselves and each other – scores, calling dead balls and throw ins, fouls etc. Victims of a foul will even shout “OUCH!”. It’s a cute touch and gives the game some much-needed personality all of its own.
So then… it’s like Kick Off but worse, which means it’s automatically shit. But that’s not the worst bit. Not even close.
This is an utter cornucopia of bugs. Entomologists would have a field day.
Most infamously, score an own goal and it’ll count FOR you. Collision detection is beyond woeful – breathe on an opponent within ten yards or look at him funny, he’ll win a free kick. Keepers just stand there like they’re riddled with rigor mortis. Quit a game when it’s goalless and it’ll think you’ve won. Bloody hell… finish a game in the tournament with a 0-0 and you’ll jump straight to the final!
In brief – it’s a shameless copycat with shit for brains. The Phil Neal of football games.