96 tears?

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Euro ’96 – like Italia’90 before it – was a tournament more memorable for the ephemeral moments than the standard of the football. The dentist’s chair, the “indigo” kit, Stuart Pearce losing his fucking mind. I’m not English so I can view these with a certain amount of emotional detachment. However, I can’t say the same for the OFFICIAL LICENSED PRODUCT game.

This was my introduction to the next wave of football games – polygon graphics with multiple camera angles, motion captured players, full match commentary, buttons that actually passed and shot rather than just kicked the ball to varying degrees of “have it” – the works.

As such, it holds a special place in my heart despite its flaws.

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Released on the Saturn and PC under the Sega Sports umbrella, this was basically a reskin of Actua Soccer with fewer teams. Considering the largely positive critical reception Gremlin’s title had upon its initial release, this was not necessarily a bad thing especially as it was to be the first time a game tied to the series was to be seen on Sega’s big black beautiful breezeblock. Yes, I did say beautiful. My love for the Saturn is way past “bordering on the unhealthy” and on the road to “I want to marry it and have its babies”. No wonder I’ve turned out the way I have.

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Presentation can be described as minimalist. More honestly, I’d go with “Shit! I’ve got snowblindness!” So… much… white… The rest of it is nicely thought out, however. High resolution menus with clearly labelled options and lots of CGI rendered maps, kits and stadia. Splendid stuff.

One lion on the screen

Another aspect of the visual stylings can also be seen in the form of Goaliath, the OFFICIAL LICENSED MASCOT. He’s absolutely everywhere, far more so than he seemed to be at the actual matches as far as I can recall. As uninspiring a creation as he was, at least it’s not the bloody rabbit again.

Music is by Richard Jacques, infamous for the… hmm… divisive… compositions to be found in Sonic R. I fall into the “my ears are bleeding” camp on that one. For this, he’s “treated” us to an ambient electronic Eurohouse jazz funk fusion. Not exactly the soundtrack of the summer a certain other ditty connected to the tournament would become, that’s for sure.

Unless it’s the summer of 1997, your mum’s found this game in Currys for a fiver and you play it constantly because the only other Saturn game you had was Sega Rally and your sister broke the disc by sitting on it and you’re sick of playing the demo disc with bloody Golden Axe: The Duel on it… anyway, carrying on…

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Get into actually playing a match and it just seems to be Actua Soccer but a bit scruffy looking. I know the Saturn was a bastard to program for but there’s no excuse for just how rough this is – compare and contrast the Japanese only release J-League Go Go Goal.

The players in particular just look plain weird. To my eyes, it seems their heads and torsos are constructed from polygons (which was the style at the time) but their limbs are sprites animated in a manner not seen since the likes of Noggin The Nog and Captain Pugwash.

However the audio is peerless and there’s at least one current franchise that could learn a lot from Gremlin’s work here – you listening, Konami? Of course not… just keep pissing off Guillermo del Toro if that’s what makes you happy, I suppose.

This is largely thanks to one man – the doyen of commentary, the one, the only Barry Davies. His unquestionable authority and velvety tones add so much to the enjoyment to be garnered here. Oh yeah, about that…

Shapes that go together

There’s always been one thing about the earlier entries of the Actua series that has really honked my chuff and that’s context sensitivity. I understand that there’s a certain amount of this in all football games but at least in those it’s broken down simply into what happens if you are in possession of the ball or not.

This however tries to be too clever for its own good. It’s all about shapes, see.

Two of these are fairly self-explanatory in all honesty – with the ball, the cursor highlighting your player will be triangular. Without it, it’s circular.

The flashing star signifies that you’re in a position to make a first-time action – whether that be a header, volley or spoon into row Z. The square tells you that you are able to cross the ball in.

These two are completely superfluous, I reckon. Surely the former is simply a matter of timing? It’s better for me to see where I am in relation to the ball in play rather than wait for a stupid flashing star.

As for crossing – there are more than enough buttons on the controller, why can’t one be reserved specifically for the job? I’ve got the ball out wide, I’ve got men in the box – I KNOW TO FUCKING CROSS IT, ALRIGHT?

The big issue is putting it in the old onion bag. Despite the hundreds of hours I sunk into it way back when, I only found one way I could score enough goals to win games. Run through the middle, evade tackles, line myself up and shoot just before the keeper will charge out to take the ball from my feet. I perfected this technique to such a point that playing a 15-minute-per-half game against Scotland, I ended up victorious by a margin of 109 to nil.

No wonder it kind of lost its lustre for me after that.

OFFICIAL LICENSED END OF POST

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Ultimately… meh…

 

 

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I can’t help shake the feeling that Ultimate Soccer was supposed to be some kind of flagship series for Sega. After all, they gave Rage Software permission to plaster Sonic all over the menus. Mind you, it seems they had their own license tied up at one point as the caricatured player featured alongside the Blue Blur has more than an air of Paul Gascoigne about him. Maybe Empire still had the rights to his likeness and weren’t getting rid of them cheap, I dunno.

(Either that or Rage were somewhat reticent on spunking serious wedge on paying for them considering he had just come back from a serious case of self-inflicted knee knack.)

The game was released in 1993 on the Mega Drive, Master System and Game Gear. The latter two are just another pair of Kick Off rip offs and therefore bear absolutely bugger all significance to me. The 16-bit version is far more interesting however as it’s a slightly refined and rejigged version of Striker which had made an obligatory appearance on the MD the year before.

So many menus

The first thing that really hit me about the game was the sheer array of options available once you choose them from the main menu screen. To describe them as bewildering is to do a disservice to bewilderment. There are football games released this year with less customisation available to your experience. Most of them are your usual guff – match length, weather, extra time yadda yadda yadda – but a few are capable of raising an eyebrow. You can disable a player’s inertia for example – a kick in the bollocks for Sir Isaac Newton, there. The only one that really seems anything other than superficial though is being able to switch between your bog-standard 11-a-side on grass and six-a-side indoor matches.

Next comes selecting your team. This is strictly an international only affair and let’s just say that Rage’s ideas of proper team colours and skills and attributes are a tad askew. Denmark wear yellow and red stripes. Japan have maximum ratings in all three (that’s right – THREE) categories – I’m guessing as another conciliatory sop towards getting a sweet deal from Sega.

Everybody play the gaaaaaame…

First things first, the graphics are fucking awful. They’ve tried to do a clever perspective trick with the pitch which ostensibly works but it some becomes apparent that it looks glitchy as hell. Weird dark lines, markings not meeting up properly – that kind of thing. And the players! Mis-shapen, oddly outlined, barely animated affronts to visual decency. That and they run like they’ve been sitting on a bicycle seat made of porcupine quills and cacti for a month.

They don’t scale with the pitch either – they’ve done a perspective trick yet THEY DON’T KNOW HOW PERSPECTIVE WORKS. Where’s Father Ted with a toy cow when you need him, eh?

Controls are little better – on the surface, A is meant to be a strong pass, C a weak one while B is your shoot/tackle. I say that, trouble is that bears little relation in theory to what it does in practice. That’s right, it’s “press random buttons and see what sticks” mode again – see my Onside review if you want more of that kind of shit.

I’m about to cry here

Gameplay – do we have to? I’ve got Christmas presents to buy…

Alright then… on your heads be it. Today’s review has been brought to you by the words ABSOLUTELY, FUCKING and BROKEN. In a one-player game, your AI opponent will take inspiration from the 1986 Uruguayan World Cup squad. It’s frankly astonishing how many leg-breakers and mistimed lunges you will be on the end of. There is no flow to a match whatsoever.

If the ball runs free and two players chase after it, they will reach an impasse until such a time that you decide to play chicken and press a button. This time you will give away a free kick.

The ref can’t decide who gets the decision when the ball goes out of play. Throw ins are awarded to the wrong team, corners and goal kicks are seemingly interchangeable.

I don’t think this is some kind of Champions of Europe-esque glitchfest, it’s mostly just incredibly poor implementation and/or interpretation of the rules of the game. Almost makes it more realistic – at least that’s what I like to think to save me from committing hara-kiri.

I don’t get it. I was never the biggest fan of Striker but at least it was functional and you could garner some enjoyment from it. This is such a backwards step, it’s fallen into a cesspit.

Maybe the Gazza thing was him seeing sense for once. He caught one glimpse of this steaming bowl of arse gravy and said “Na, thank yee!”

Champ… or chump?

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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.

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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.

Keith Curle

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.

Geoff Thomas

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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.

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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.

CARLTON!!!

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.

They might be Giants

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This may be a bit shorter than my usual posts – that’s simply because there’s not much you can write about something so painfully lacking in content.

Giant Killers was the only football management sim on the Dreamcast. Released in May 2001, several months after Sega announced that they were discontinuing the DC and quitting the hardware market altogether, it is now one of the more sought after releases for those looking to complete a PAL DC collection.

An adaptation of a series that had built up several releases on the PC, GK positioned itself as a less involved, more immediate alternative to the likes of Championship Manager. This simplicity seemed like it would make for a pretty straighforward transfer onto a console. This simplicity is also what destroys it as anything resembling a satisfying experience.

Even by the standards of the time, GK is unbelievably basic compared to the likes of LMA Manager on the PlayStation or Player Manager ’99 on the N64. It is more comparable to O’Leary Manager 2000 on the Game Boy Color. The bloody GAME. BOY. COLOR!

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Those nine TV-screen looking icons up there… they’re ALL of your options.

Every single thing you can do in the game… bar the vidiprinter-esque screen that appears during matches. Just use the triggers to flick through them in turn.

From left to right:

CLUB STATUS

FIXTURES

TABLES

TRANSFERS

SQUAD

FORMATION

TRAINING – Even then, if you choose the easy option (I’ll get onto the difficulty settings) the training is automated therefore the icon is blanked out!

SAVE GAME

CALENDAR

The X and Y buttons can be used to switch between screens but you’ll still see no more than two dozen or so sub-menus in the entire game.

The first menu you can really make any kind of decisions on is the transfers. Your kitty is decided by the initial difficulty – easy gives you and only you a £25million windfall, medium awards this to all 92 clubs and hard lumps you with the default budget, which for all but about half a dozen teams is the square root of bugger all.

The lesson here is not to be lured in by big names – chances are they might very well be useless. I made this mistake in buying Eidur Gudjohnsen and Freddie Ljungberg for Wrexham – their ratings were barely any better than those players in my initial starting XI.

It’s entirely about percentages and this goes equally well in regards to formation. Just keep flicking through them until you work out which one scores highest and stick with it. No tweaks, no thinking about little things like balance or team chemistry. In Giant Killers, matches ARE won on paper.

I’ll admit that it can be fun to take a team from the lower divisions and get them to challenge for the Premier League title, especially on a higher difficulty. But the illusion is soon broken when you release that the only reason why you’re in the shake up is that Emile Heskey has scored 35 goals in one season and Clint Hill has become the best defender in the world.

Virtua insanity

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Virtua Pro Football is an odd one. Not like UEFA Dream Soccer “odd” but a curious case nonetheless. You’d think with Virtua in the name and it being by Sega, it’d be part of the Virtua Striker family. In fact, it’s a spiritual successor of sorts to the absolutely appalling 90 Minutes for the Dreamcast (the similarities are slightly more obvious if you play the Japanese version known as World Football Climax – the HUD is virtually identical and the graphics have a somewhat more vivid “Dreamcasty” saturation) but tries to fix that game’s myriad problems while adding many new exciting and interesting features of its own.

And you know what? It ALMOST succeeds. Emphasis very much on the almost there.

First of all:

What does it get right?

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The presentation is very nice – all brightly coloured geometric shapes and clean text. Everything is logically arranged and clearly labelled. No PES-style head scratching “where the hell do I find that” or “what the fuck does that mean” here.

Those sharp good looks don’t quite transfer on to the pitch however. It’s not an ugly game by any means – perfectly serviceable by PS2 standards, in fact. It’s just completely lacking any pizzazz. Player likenesses could not be used in a court of law, even though they are officially licensed and the more famous faces are certainly not made of stock parts. Gerrard’s tiny forehead, Giggs’ angular cheekbones, Adriano’s perfectly round head – they’re all here… vaguely. Overall though, the visuals just about get a pass.

Features – the editing mode is very much akin to what you’d expect from the Pro Evo titles of the period. And by “very much akin”, I really should have put “completely and utterly stolen”. Making crests and flags from monochromatic clip-art pieces layered together, colouring kits piece by piece, choosing just the right font for the shirt numbers – it should all seem very familiar to those who are au fait with Konami’s oeuvre. It worked there, it works here.

Game modes are your standard friendlies, leagues and cups. Then there’s Career Mode.

Back in the mid-2000s, this wasn’t a common feature to find in football games. FIFA and PES didn’t incorporate their equivalents until a year or two after this. Although with its RPG-lite stylings and focus on building relationships over actually playing any matches, it’s far more analogous to the synonymous mode in ISS 2000 for the N64. So Konami did get there first… again.

The disappointing thing is that VPF’s Career mode doesn’t have the sense of humour of KCEO’s blurry, over-saturated, not-as-good-as-’98-but-still-pretty-damn-good effort. There are still some unusual and somewhat prescient touches here and there though – women only seem interested in you if you buy them expensive gifts and take them out to restaurants (gold diggers going after footballers – who’d have thunk it, eh?). Having a massive ego is seen as a good thing – seriously, if you let your ego meter get too low you get diagnosed with depression and have to spend twelve weeks away from the team! Of course, let’s not forget one of the easiest ways of giving your motivation a boost – buying yourself a shiny new sports car.

Media interviews are exactly as you’d expect as well – even though you’re new to the first team it appears that the media training you’ve received has already kicked in 110% at the end of the day. All answers you give are incredibly banal and contain less insight and basic human intellect than the letters page of the Daily Star.

Pretty neat all round – shame that there’s no coaches telling you that you must use your passion so that it may manifest itself AS A FIRE!!!!!!!!!!! or team-mates shunning you after one of them finds a porn mag under your duvet. You know – little things.

Mind you, they won’t be so little after a quick J. Arthur.

Hey, we might be on to a winner here with this one. Maybe not winner, really, more scraping into the Europa League on the last day but still, all seems well… so far.

What does it get shite?

Before we get to the big one, let’s talk about the audio for a bit. In-game “choons” are instantly forgettable, crowd noises are the usual library sounds and worst of all, commentary is by…

Alan Green.

Fuck.

It’s not like they’ve even given him much to say (then again, the less you hear from the miserable bastard, the better). It’s common to hear him spew out the same tired cliche twice or even thrice in a row. There’s also the weird manner in which he gives out how much time has elapsed in the match – obviously using the same script as Alan Parry did for 90 Minutes, only not quite sounding as much like he failed the audition to play K-9 though.

To pick through Career mode once more – your progression is completely off-kilter. In my first season at Stoke I ended up playing four entirely underwhelming matches, scoring once – and that was a tap-in after the ball came back off the keeper’s arse and he then proceeded to get a rush of blood. The Potters gained promotion but my part in it was negligible, save perhaps for that fortunate late winner against a nine-man Sheffield Wednesday.

I must have impressed someone however because at the end of the season, I get a text from my agent with details of interested clubs. Amongst the usual bunch of Championship stragglers and relegation fodder in the Dutch top flight, one name stands out – Roma.

From having Paul Gallagher as a strike partner to Francesco Totti? Dave Brammer as midfield general to Daniele de Rossi (Nothing against Dave, quite the opposite in fact as a Wrexham fan – I wish we had a player half as good as him at the Racecourse right now)?

And all with a 1,500% pay rise?

WHERE’S THAT FUCKING CONTRACT?

Yeah right, as if that would ever happen…

Now the elephant in the room – playability. First impressions are OK – players are responsive, passing is snappy and accurate (mostly… you will sometimes put one out for a throw-in when you swear you held the stick in the direction of a team-mate) and the gridiron-style plays for set pieces are genuinely innovative and well implemented.

But then it all goes to shit – play a slightly stray pass and a colleague will ignore it, letting it roll past him even if it’s less than a yard from his feet. Getting in an accurate cross is impossible… not that you have any hope in hell of ever winning a ball in the air anyway.

The second biggest issue is 1-on-1s. Another blatant nick from Konami here, this time from ISS 3 on the GameCube. The game will enter a third-person mode like you’re Lara bloody Croft or something. Then you’ll inevitably cease control of the ball as your temporary disorientation will cause you to lose focus. Every. Single. Time. Turn it off as soon as you can.

Finally… shooting. Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear. It is far too sensitive – even the slightest tap of the square button will cause you to unleash a thunderbastard that would take off the goalkeeper’s arm if the shot was anything like on target. They hardly ever are though, even if you’re standing two yards from the goal. I hope the crowd are all wearing full face crash helmets, otherwise somebody’s going to be losing teeth.

That’s if you can carve out chances to shoot in the first place – to say your opponents take refuge in blanket defence is putting it lightly. Once you enter their third, you’ll see half a dozen of them swarming around the ball – your only hope here is to try and play through them with a series of one-twos and intricate passing. This is where the idea for tiki-taka came from, it must be. There’s no other rational explanation.

Even then, nine times out of ten the move will break down as one of your lot get flagged offside. Did anyone ever sing about dreaming of a team of Pippo Inzaghis?

No one will ever sing any arias about this game, that’s for sure.

A pretty weird dream…

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If you had a Dreamcast back in the day, just occasionally you had to get your fun wherever you could.

This was certainly true of football games on Sega’s sleek little white box – EA did not support the console whatsoever so no FIFA (mind you, it wasn’t that great a period for it so no big loss). As for Konami… well, they did release stuff on the DC – I have a copy of ESPN International Track & Field sitting on my shelf. There were also the likes of The Grinch, Nightmare Creatures II, Silent Scope and a bunch of Japan-only Dance Dance Revolution titles. Problem was – no ISS. Most of us on that side of the divide would have been more than happy with more-or-less straight conversions of the PS1 versions. Alas, it was not to be.

So then – what choice did you have? Early releases included a vanilla port of Virtua Striker 2: a great showcase for what the Dreamcast could do graphically and fun for a while but shallow as a puddle and frustrating as hell as you continually end up with eight men and bemoan the lack of a run button.

UEFA Striker – the latest in a long line of Striker games from Rage Software. It’s pretty decent but it lacks that certain magic that separates the good from the great. Also blighted by the presence of Jonathan Pearce and “Big” Ron “Race Relations” Atkinson.

Later on we ended up lumbered with European Super League – a lumpen, uninspired effort with a set piece system that was like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. While trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube. With your nose.

Finally there was 90 Minutes. A game that the phrase “shit on a stick football” could have been invented for. You’ll swear your controller is broken. In fact you’ll just swear.

Hang on… what about the Worldwide Soccer titles?

I’m getting to that.

Back in the days of the Saturn, Sega bestowed on us the really rather good SWWS ’97 and ’98. Slick, easy to get into and just all-round bloody good fun. It seemed natural that this franchise would be carried over to their new wonderbox.

And so it proved, only it wasn’t that straightforward. Instead of developing the sequels in-house, they were given to Silicon Dreams – an Oxfordshire studio with a proven track record in football games. They were the team behind the likes of Olympic Soccer and World League Soccer for the PlayStation and Saturn. Later games in the WLS series would be plastered with the fizzog of everyone’s favourite horse-fancying, chopper-flying personality vacuum Michael Owen and also appeared on the PC and Nintendo 64.

With that solid (if unspectacular) pedigree, it was hardly the worst decision Sega made. Then again, chopping off all their own limbs wouldn’t have been the worst decision Sega made in the Dreamcast era.

Let’s just say that the SWWS releases on the DC had their problems. Both 2000 and Euro Edition suffered from inconsistent frame rates, players running through each other and most unfortunate of all, a bug that caused some black players to end up with white heads and vice versa.

After that, you could understand why Sega would lose faith in the series. However, this was not to be the end of Silicon Dreams’ efforts on the console.

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Finally.

At this moment in time (2000, in case you were wondering) the UEFA license was held by Infogrames, one of the few third-party publishers still supporting the already struggling DC. They wanted to capitalise on the relative success of UEFA Striker with a follow-up. Rage were busy re-tooling the engine they used for that game, having just secured the right to use the likeness of one Mr. David Beckham.

As it was, Infogrames gave the job to… you guessed it.

But there must have been something in the water in Banbury at the turn of the millennium as what they came up with was perhaps the most unhinged football title before Red Card came along.

UEFA Dream Soccer is – to put it mildly – fucking mental.

Let’s get the more conventional stuff out of the way first. If you choose the Traditional mode, it’s just like Silicon Dreams’ previous titles only with most of the bugs fixed. Licenses do not stretch to names – Liverpool’s front two are Owinn and Hescee (or something to that effect).

Slightly more unusually though a very welcome inclusion is that of women’s teams. This is most likely a direct consequence of having to change their N64 Michael Owen game for the American market so that it now starred Mia Hamm.

Now we’re starting to get to the slightly more loonball stuff. Select Arcade mode and you’ll get a couple of options that would be more fitting to something like Tekken. Survival mode – just keep winning and going for a high score. Bonus points awarded for goals, stringing X amount of passes together and deductions for foul play.

Time Attack is all-or-nothing first goal wins. Score with your first shot and a match can finish in seconds.

But even they aren’t the most “shove pencils up your nostrils and say wibble” bits. That comes when you fiddle with the game options a bit. Set the shot power and aftertouch to maximum and turn intelligent shooting on and watch as your players make Hot Shot Hamish look like a Sunday league clogger. The goals you can score are ludicrous.

I have VHS evidence somewhere of my left back scoring a 45-yard overhead kick that swerved almost out of the stadium before finding the back of the net at such a speed that I wouldn’t have been surprised if the ball immediately turned into a pile of ash.

It’s not really something words can convey though, you really have to see it in action for yourself… or actually play it, of course.

Ultimately UEFA Dream Soccer is an interesting experiment. No doubt it’s worth trying if only to see a lurching centre-back suddenly walloping in a rainbow kick from his own half at Mach 547. Alas, as a football game it falls down on so many other areas.

Passing is a crap shoot, winning headers is practically impossible and as for tackling? Forget it.

Shame really.

Welcome

First of all, let’s get the basics out of the way.

I’m Liam, 34, 5′ 9″, Welsh, Leo, GSOH. Yourself?

I have set this blog up as a refuge from the constant barrage of most football video game stuff you’ll find online, the corporate behemoths of FIFA and PES that between them have destroyed the competition. Although I have to confess I’ve been on the Konami side since the days of ISS Deluxe on the Mega Drive.

The intention here is to bring attention to those lesser-known or fondly remembered but long since abandoned titles.

Whether it be once promising but now long since derelict franchises like Actua Soccer or  This is Football, arcade favourites like Virtua Striker or Football Champ, the just plain bonkers such as UEFA Dream Soccer or Red Card and of course the just plain crap. European Super League, anyone? Anyone?

I’ll try and avoid clickbait but if I do have a good idea for a top 10 list, ULTIMATE BEST or SHOCKINGLY WORST, I won’t be afraid to go with it. Maybe I won’t actually use those words for titles, though.

Thank you, spread the word and hopefully I won’t get too stuck with blogger’s block!