For years now, apparently normal people have been shunting small plastic football
figurines around a felt pitch in the name of fun. Nevertheless, this bizarre practice is as
popular as it ever was, and has now made the transition from tabletop to computer relatively
For those uninitiated with the mystical ways of Subbuteo, the game is normally played on
a large felt pitch and, using similar rules to humanoid football, the players flick the
playing pieces (small Lineker effigies mounted on hemispherical bases) in order to score
goals. In the 64 version the pitch is accurately reproduced but the players appear as small
blobs on a plan view of the pitch.
When you're in possession of the ball, the directional control of the playing piece is
mcuh the same as many of the snooker simulations around. A marker has to be rotated around
the player to determine the direction of the shot, after which two bars appear.
Modulate these to set the power and spin of the flick to be played. This may sound simple
in theory but it's easy to mis-flick the player and send him careering in a large ungainly arc,
totally missing the ball. If this occurs, or the ball hits an opposing player, or your player
touches an opponent, possession is lost.
Each time a player attacks, the defending party is given an opportunity to move his pieces
into a better defensive position, thus preventing any one player from keeping possession
This is basically the same method by which all mini-footballing moves are carried out.
But despite this slow progression of moves, this metgod of play does yield a remarkably realistic
game of Subbuteo.
Once you've got the hang of it you can take advantage of the three skill levels available
or play in a league against either the computer or up to eight of your friends. If you choose
to play the computer league you also have the option to either watch the computer v computer
matches or just skip to the results (viewing matches can get as tiresome as seeing the 800th
crying Gazza T-shirt drift past).
Other useful options include being able to change the length of any match (anything from
one to forty five minutes per half), view fixtures, view league or save league. Everything
you need, in fact.
The basic graphics don't really let Subbuteo down when you think that fancy screens would
be wasted with a game more tactical than action packed. What a first seems like dull gameplay
soon becomes completely engrossing. It's get the kind of appeal that should last all season.
For that completely unrealistic soccer atmosphere, you can have the moody soundtrack thumping
away. Alternatively, you can simply savour spot effects.
For the football purists who are left cold by the action type soccer sims around, this
may be exactly what the doctor ordered, a tactical brain teaser than comes closer to a
skilful match than a friendly kick about in the park. Hardened Subbuteo freaks won't
be insulted by this careful conversion to computer but they may not get overly excited either.
It would be wise to try before you buy and if you like what you see, get out on the pitch and flick ass.