On the amiga, there are crap and mediocre football games, there are good football games and there is Sensible Soccer. It is worshipped with the kind of fervour usually only reserved for films featuring Sid James nude. The Sensible games and league competition have been a regular office feature for a long time, now. Huge fortunes have been amassed, only to be thrown away in the kind of spur of the moment double or quits madness usually confined to irritating tv advertisements. Whole lives have been ruined. Burgeoning careers have been destroyed by addiction to the drug known as Sensi.
I can handle it, you see newcomers muttering to themselves; Im only having a three-minute friendly. But there they are, a week later, huddled in the eerie green light from the monitor at three in the morning, playing ten minute, two leg Cup games with extra time and penalties switched on. It isnt long before you know youll catch them in the office on Saturday mornings, when they think no-one will be around, playing two player games on their own to sort out a few dead ball routines.
Im not practising, theyll gibber, wild-eyed, Im just, er... waiting for someone. These addicts are more victims than criminals. But how long must we wait, how many lives must be destroyed, before the government steps in and does something for these people. Doesnt anybody care any more?
(So its quite a good game, then? A Reader.) You could say that. Everybody loves it; even former non-games playing Art Editors are in its thrall. What strikes you about it is that it has obviously been put together by people who like football. Its got a great feel. The first time you play it you get a silly grin on your face. Its fun, and utterly addictive, and Ive been waiting for it to appear in a format I can have for my very own (pc, Megadrive or snes - I dont care - for over a year. You know whats coming, dont you? (Especially if youre one of those people who look at the score a game gets before you decide whether to read the review or not). Its going to be one of those tremendously funny footballing jokes along the lines of: Im gutted/Im sick as a parrot. You guessed it.
When you first load it up you get mixed impressions. It certainly looks the same as the Amiga version. All the same options are there. (These are explained elsewhere, for those new to the game.) Unfortunately, the theme tune is replaced by a monstrosity. This is a tragedy. I love that tune. I often hum it to myself on tubes, to make sure I get a carriage to myself. (Its either that or the Bodyform advert; they both work equally well.) I suppose, if you hear a tune often enough, youll hum anything eventually - its how Brotherhood of Man get all their hits - but this one just doesnt have it.
Main stand view
The game set-up options allow control over game length (you can have three, five, seven or ten minute games), type of pitch (wet, hard, icy, etc.) and stuff like that. The main team selection screen has either 40 national teams or 64 club teams from all over Europe: everyone from Valletta and Fram Reykjavik to ac Milan and Marseilles, all of whom are more or less up to date, squad-wise. The same as the Amiga, and all okay so far. Playing the game, however, you find yourself in a good news/bad news situation.
- The good news:
Its a football game, it has loads of options, its on the pc, and you can actually play football with it.
- The bad news:
Its twice as fast as the Amiga original. Where the Amiga version gives you time to get the ball under control and play a measured continental passing game, the pc version is like the English Premier League: all hectic pace, clattering tackles and the ball whizzing about like a table tennis ball (except when it hits a post, when it inexplicably drops motionless, and is easy prey to poaching forwards). So, its faster. Once youve adjusted to the pace, that should be bearable.
- The other bad(ish) news:
Unfortunately it has a few bugs. We set up a three-player World Cup qualifying game, playing as England, Holland and Norway (more about those elsewhere). To our surprise I, as England, had to play myself, as England. I played it to see what would happen. I won 23-0 (quite easily with no opponent), but England had a 23-23 draw in their record, theyd played one game more than they should have, and didnt play San Marino or Turkey in their group. This happened twice.
Another bug: you can tell who youre controlling because their number appears above their head. Players in this version are not numbered correctly: they pop up all over the place with numbers given to them at random. Either that or Ian Wright and Paul Ince both have ginger hair.
Now to the non-bug moans. Computer controlled teams are a lot more stupid and easier to beat. Too many times computer forwards have shot with totally the wrong aftertouch so that the ball curves harmlessly away towards the corner flags. Goalkeepers - always controlled by computer in this - are also not as good as the Amiga version.
The sound is barely adequate. Even with a Sound Blaster you dont get the noise of players kicking the ball, only crowd noises. Whistles and other effects are shrill beeps. Without a soundcard it has all the atmosphere of an episode of Take The High Road. The graphics are fine, but although it looks to us like the players are slightly bigger and you see less of the pitch, this has been officially denied.
Ein Staffe Og Et Sjelmord
Its difficult to get a satisfactory set-up for playing the game. Admittedly, a large part of this is due to general difficulties with pcs and joysticks anyway, and seem to be rooted in a kind of pc antiarcade game snobbery. Anyway, most analogue joysticks play the game poorly (except for the Gravis Analog), and decent digital joysticks are hard to find for the pc.
We tried our fave Amiga sticks with a digital-to-analogue converter (which, at $15.99 each, arent cheap) but these arent ideal, as the sticks keep becoming un-calibrated, and the ball keeps shooting off to the left. Keyboard control is a nightmare: its difficult to get any aftertouch unless you have the combined keyboard skills of Mavis Beacon and Oscar Peterson, and turning with the ball is simply impossible.
Two player games are difficult to play on a fair basis, unless you have (a) a two-joystick card and two joysticks (with whatever appropriate contraptions you need to enable them both to work), (b) someone who likes playing with a keyboard or (c) an Amiga.
No-one likes us
Perhaps you can argue that if you havent seen the game in its proper form, you wont mind - or maybe even notice - a lot of the stuff listed above. Unfortunately we have; and we know how much better the game could, and should, be and cant help harping on about it. It doesnt have the attention to detail of the original: select England vs West Germany in the Specials section on the Amiga, and you play the 1966 teams and the screen switches to black and white. It has obviously been put together with the sort of care and attention to detail the pc version lacks. It has been copied from the Amiga version, but without any additions to cater for the pc market.
For example, theres no reason why you shouldnt be able to save as many cup and league competitions as you could possibly want on the pc since theres rather a large hard drive for you to put it all on, but youre still restricted to the same number of saved games as the Amiga version. There are faults in the substitution and tactical screens which could have been corrected in this release, but havent. When you think that theyve introduced changes to the Megadrive version, out quite soon, its even more annoying. Its all on a plain 720K disk, and it still costs more than the Amiga version, and its not as good.
Overall, its still an okay game that will appeal to footie fans desperate for a pc fix, its streets ahead of the pc opposition and will provide entertainment if you have all the extras necessary to get a good two player game going. Even so, after over a years wait, its disappointing. It should have been much, much better. When avr convert The Chaos Engine for the pc, I hope they get that one right. Back to the Amiga, then. What a shame.
Brian Moores Head
Every team in the game can be altered with the Edit Team option in just about every area except their performance. You can change the team name, its country of origin (if its a club) and the coachs name. The players can all be renamed and moved to different positions (although defenders - apart from Paul Warhurst - wont get many goals, forwards wont make many vital defensive tackles, and so on). Their attributes are not shown, and are unalterable. You can change their faces and hair colour, too. Needless to say, their first and second choice kits can be altered, with a choice of eight colours plus black and white to combine in subtle but exciting colourways.
Download Sensible Soccer
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
- Game modes: Single game mode
- Up, Down, Left, Right - Arrow keys
- Start - Enter (Pause, Menu select, Skip intro, Inventory)
- "A" Gamepad button - Ctrl (usually Jump or Change weapon)
- "B" button - Space (Jump, Fire, Menu select)
- "C" button - Left Shift (Item select)
Use the F12 key to toggle mouse capture / release when using the mouse as a controller.
Sega Master System
- Manufacturer: Psygnosis LTD. of Europe
- Machine: Mega CD
- Theme: Sports
While I quite haven't figured out why they call it sensible yet, this soccer title was one of the more interesting ones at the show.
Not only is it on Mega CD, where sports games are kind of rare, but it also has many more options than similar titles.
From the very start, it contained that "soccer" feel with full-motion video. The on-screen players, which were seen from a bird's eye view, seemed a little bit too small. Still, the action moved very fast.
Like I wrote earlier, there are a great number of options - so many in fact that I can't even begin to summarize them here.
Soccer games on CD? Doesn't happen very often, so I guess this is one you'll probably want to see. Overall, not too shabby.