Copyright/Publisher: CRL, Programming: Andrew Spencer,
Release Year: 1988,
Genre: Football/Soccer, Number Of Players: 1 or 2
First released on cartridge in 1983 by Commodore, CRL have now made International Soccer available on cassette and
and disk. Adopting a grandstand view of the action, the game incorporates many of soccer's rules and tactics.
Before the action begins one or two-player mode is chosen; opting for the former allows one of nine computer
skills levels to be selected: the first plays like a dummy, but the ninth passes to pixel perfection. In addition,
one of five different coloured strips is available for both players.
A match is played on a two-way horizontally scrolling pitch approximately three screens wide. The two halves
are 200 seconds long, at the end of which the winning side is presented with a cup; if the result is a draw,
neither side is awarded the trophy.
Seven players make up each team, including the goalkeeper, who's controlled with the fire button and
automatically jumps in the direction the ball is kicked. One player is controlled by joystick at any given time,
with eight-way movement possible according to the direction he is pushed. This player in possession turns to a
lighter shade of his team's colour for easy recognition and moves at a slower rate than the sorrounding players.
The opposition player (usually) nearest to the ball also turns a lighter shade; the other players on both teams
run in patterns in their appropriate zones, related to the ball's movement. Tackling is carried out simply by running
into another player (no fouls are awarded).
Pressing the firebutton kicks the ball; additonally a footballer heads the ball if it's at the correct height.
If the ball goes out of play, the computer selects a player to take a throw in, goal kick or corner kick, and the fire
button continues the action.
They may look blocky and bland, but you should see
them race up the park!
Even though Matchday II is graphically better, more intelligent and more wide ranging, this still offers greater
playabilit. Its bad points are only minor: the computer's selection of who's the nearest player to the ball is
sometimes annoyingly arbitrary, and the goalkeepers aren't up to much (but at least they provide plenty of humour when
they dive in the opposite direction to the ball).
The graphics are blocky and the scrolling slightly jerky, but the player movement is surprisingly nifty, and some
fairly complex moves can be strung together. You need a bit of practice to get properly coordinated, but it's worth
it just to experience the satisfaction of tubbing the computer on level nine. It's not brilliant, but it's still
the fastest footballing simulation on the 64.
Matchday II may be far more complex and much better looking, but when it comes to speed and playability,
International Soccer is tops. First impressions are offputting since the footballers are very blocky and the sound
is rubbish. However, when the whistle blows you soon forget about those deficiencies and really get into the action.
Control is surprisingly crisp, and it's easy to put together some neat moves. The game isn't without its flaws, like
the computer giving goals when a shot is clearly over the bar and the occasional odd player selection, but on the whole
International Soccer provides a fast, challenging and thoroughly enjoyable footballsimulation that shouldn't be missed.
I'm pleased to see this seminal soccer game make its return to the software shelves. Four and a half years ago it
impressed me and it's arguably one of the minor classics of Commodore computer gaming. Still, time waits for no
sports sim, and what was masterful back then is starting to look slightly clumsy now.
The player sprites are chunky, the goal detection routine lets in shots going over the cross-bar, and the player
select is not without its faults. In spite of all this, though International Soccer remains a remarkably playable game,
its nine skill levels and two-player option bringing hours of footballing fun. It may lack the sophistication of
something like Matchday II bit it plays quite a bit faster and is much easier to get into. It's just a pity it