Copyright/Publisher: Cult Games, Release Year: 1990,
Number Of Players: 1
Who always get the balme in schoolyard soccer? Who inevitably gets the sack? Yep, PHIL
'BUTTER FINGERS' KING puts on his green jersey and stands between the anorak goalposts.
Cult/D&H Games are incredibly prolific: they've shifted more footy managers than Aston
Villa! And the latest addition the their repertoire is a little cracker.
Soccer Rivals is based on a board-game format with managers moving their counters around
a Monopoly-style board. Three managers get to play, any of them human or computer controlled.
The three teams all start out in an eight-team Fourth Division. With efficient management,
you can be one of two teams promoted at the end of the 14-game season. Landing on lucky squares
helps, enabling you to win wodges of useful cash with which to buy better players.
Before (and after) moving your counter around the board you can change your team formation
and swap players around to get defence, midfield and attack ratings to match your opponents'. A
useful feature here is the Automatic Team Selection which selects the best players for your
At the end of the day, the results simply scroll on, but there is an option to view highlights
of any match. This is a simple, but amusing, sequence with a stick-man player flicking the
ball up, chesting it down, etc, before shooting/heading it towards the unseen net - a
'goal' or 'saved' caption then appears.
If this was all there was to Soccer Rivals it's just be another mediocre management game,
but the board-game aspect is a lot of fun, especially with three human players. There's loads
of realistic features like crowd trouble, injuries, training, various team crises and
dilemmas, even players being killed in plane crashes! Your footy fortunes can change overnight.
Presentation is excellent throughout with a clear, attractive board layout and easy-to-use
menus. There's a useful save game facility, and even an option to switch control of any of the
three teams (human/computer), mid-game. Invite a couple of footy-mad friends round and you'll
all be over the moon.
I normally throw up at the mere mention of footy management, but Soccer Rivals is darn good.
I can even say I enjoyed it. There's not too much mucking around with finances and all
that palaver, and there's even automatic team selection to save time.
As some of the
options (transfers atc) only come up when you land on the right square, I didn't have to
wait eons for Phil to finish his turn. Overall this is mcu more playable than the usual
footy management mulch.
Landing on various board squares has the following consequences:
Utilities: Allows you to purchase one of three iteams - Seats (intitial ground capacity
of 10.000 can be increased up to 40.000), Security Cameras (to avoid costly crowd violence),
or a Coach And Youth Team (allows players to join your squad from the youth team, also
helps with training).
Player For Sale: A players is offered for sale to you and the other two managers. His
position, skill rating and minimum sale price are shown. When playing with friends, they'll
have to look away so you can enter your secret bid - no peeking!
Sell A Player: Sell as many players as you like (aprat from injuried ones) until you
refuse an offer.
Lucky/Bad Day: You could win or lose thousands at the races, etc.
Squad Dilemma: Pot luck again. You could get a new player, someone could retire, or one
of your players could have his skill increased/decreased.
Extra Training: Put any of your players through extra training to hopefully increase
their skill rating. However, without a coach, it could also go down,.
Crisis: Several players are lost. Definitely one to avoid.
Hit The Target: Gamble on this nifty subgame. Shoot the ball at the upwards scrolling
targets. Hit one and you'll win thousands, miss and you'll lose thousands. There's three
skill levels with more money at stake on the hardest.