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It’s the second match of our Football Games World Cup and it’s a straight fight between two tight-short wearing legends of the 1980s. Microprose Soccer is vying for a place in the semi-finals against its rival from the posh seats, Football Director.
Readers who think a Commodore 64 is that funny-smelling chair round your nan’s house had better ask their dads about these two legends. For those of us who still have the muscle memory for the SHIFT-RUN STOP key combo, take a walk down Memory Lane and then decide which deserves a place in the semis by voting on the link at the foot of the article.
Microprose Soccer had two amazing things going for it. First, it was one of the few Commodore 64 games to come on a cartridge, thus loading in something like 30 seconds instead of the episode of Blockbusters it used to take to load games by tape. Honestly, Xbox generation, you don’t know you’re born…
The second unique thing Microprose had going for it was sliding tackles. Microprose was the first footie sim to bother with weather, and when it rained the pitch instantly turned into a bowling alley, allowing a sliding tackle to start from the edge of your own box and end somewhere on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The satisfaction you could take from launching a tackle about 30 yards away from an attacker and nipping the ball off his toe about five seconds later was immense.
It was also one of the few games to hand you control of the keeper, letting you dive at the feet of the striker if your pitch-length sliding tackle had failed to halt his progress. It was about as realistic as Knight Rider, but twice the fun.
First, let me state from personal experience that Football Director was nothing like being an actual football director. Nobody asks you to deal with a blocked bog in the gents, and you don’t have to sit munching a Custard Cream with a roomful of octogenarians at half-time. One can only assume Football Manager legged it down the Trademark Office first, because this was a football management game – and an absolute belter.
I distinctly recall seeing an ad for the game in Zzap! magazine and being blown away by its ground-breaking feature: it actually listed the scorers in each game. I spent the next hour begging my mum to send off the cheque. This was life-changing stuff.
Your players were given a rating from 1-5, and the + or – next to their name was key. A player bang in form would have a + next to their name and was on the fast-track to becoming the next Gary Lineker. Players with a minus next to their name were on the slippery slope to becoming the next Gary Stevens.
The game was coded by the D&H partnership of Tony Huggard and John De Salis, and it seems Huggard couldn’t resist a Hitchcock-esque walk-on part, almost always appearing as a striker in your initial squad. De Salis, on the other hand, was nowhere to be seen. Most likely because the Commodore 64 couldn’t cope with the space in his surname…