Virgin Games are confident that their new football simulation program is true to life. Sports journalist Tony Williams came up with the concept for the game, drawing upon his football knowledge gained as editor of the League Club Directory and the FA Non-League Directory. Tony studied the form of the football clubs which appear in FA Cup Football and devised a set of performance figures for them. Once Tony's data had been incorporated, the Football Association was shown the game. The FA found it so authentic, that the program carries the Football Association's endorsement.
The program follows the course of the FA Cup, and allows up to eight players to manage ten teams each. No less that 124 teams are included in the game, and if players don't find their favourite Non-League team amongst them, they can enter further clubs.
At the start of the game the number of players has to be input one person can play against the computer then players enter a two letter code which is used to identify them for the rest of the game. Taking it in turns, the budding managers select teams from the paged list displayed on screen until everyone has a full complement of ten sides and the competition begins.
All the Cup matches can be played from scratch, or the players can opt to move straight to Round Three when the First and Second Division clubs enter the competition, in which case the computer calculates which teams were defeated in the first two rounds.
Each round begins with the draw. Two discs bearing numbers corresponding to the clubs remaining in the contest roll across the screen. When they come to rest the names of the two teams they represent are added to the list of matches to be played in that round.
Before all the matches are played, managers have to choose their tactical approach to the games in which their teams are playing. Managers can encourage teams to play a Defensive, Balanced or Attacking game by selecting the appropriate key when the computer prompts them. Once all the tactics have been given to the computer, the matches kick off. The computer keeps track of the state of play, listing all the teams playing and updating the scores as goals go in.
The matches are played in accelerated time, as shown on a digital readout at the top of the screen, and the passage of time can be speeded up by pressing the SPACE key. In the first three rounds play continues to full time without interruption, but as the competition hots up more and more managerial decisions need to be made. In Round Four managers are given the option to change tactics at half time. In Round Five a tricky question is asked of every team's manager before play commences to test managerial ability, and a substitute can be played at three quarter time. Occasionally the option to look at a newsflash is given to the away teams's manager if the news is viewed it may increase or decrease team morale.
In the last three Rounds managers have to deal with a barrage of tricky questions, update tactics at quarter, half and three-quarter time as well as decide whether to field substitutes. During the Final, updates on the pitch condition, humour of the crowd and the style and mood of the players are given at regular intervals during the match.