The Micro User1st September 1988
Published in The Micro User 6.07
A change from Channel 4
American Football has grown in popularity in Britain over the last few years due to the TV coverage on Channel 4, So it was inevitable that someone would produce a simulation for the BBC Micro. Coda Software has done the job neatly with Head Coach v3.
The game places you in charge of the Schoburg Franklins, the newest team in the NFL, and your job as head coach is to guide your team to success, and hopefully a place in the Superbowl final at the end of the season. If you don't make too much of a hash of it, you get to keep your job, draft in some new players and try to improve the team's performance for next season.
A nice feature is that, after playing, you can save your current position and all relevant statistics on your team. So next time you play, you start from where you left off.
When starting a new run you are presented with a list of the 28 existing teams which make up the NFL and are asked to choose which team you wish Scoburg to replace in the league. If you choose a strong team like Washington or Chicago, your fixtures are going to be tough. It's better to choose a less successful on, like Atlanta.
From there you move to the team headquarters menu which has 21 options. A to Q give you statistics on your team and its performance during the season. Most of them are blank when you first start the game. Option R prints up another menu called Training Camp where you can test your players using a speed trial to discover how fit they are or you can get assessments of the players' performances during training. This allows you to make your choice of the team you want to play in the next match.
On returning to the Team Headquarters menu you can select option S which starts your next match. Each season comprises two pre-season matches followed by the 16 games which make up the regular season. If you qualify, you get to take part in the play-offs aiming for a place in the Superbowl.
Each match is preceded by a short profile of your opposition after which you can make last minute changes to your team. A match lasts for four quarters, each taking about five minutes to play through.
While the match is in progress you can select the type ot attacking and defensive plays for your team. The micro does the same for the opposition. This is fine if you know a fair bit about American Football but if not you could run into serious problems. The best thing to do before playing is to study the neat rule book which accompanies the software.
Between each quarter, you can view all the statistics on the game and change your team members if you think they are not doing too well.
Once the match ends, you are given a report by your team doctor on injuries sustained. Then you are informed of who your three most valuable players were during the match, plus the results of the other games played and your league placing. Finally, you are returned to Team Headquarters to prepare for the next match. The trouble with this game is that you can get bogged down in a sea of statistics while preparing for each match and then once the matches start you can get to a point when you begin to wonder if player assessments and team selections make the slightest difference to whether you win or not.
I found it could be totally frustrating when I selected my strongest team, according to the statistics, to be thrashed by San Diego, who hadn't won a single match until then.
On the whole though, I found the game fascinating and good fun - excellent tor bringing out the emotions. There aren't many games around that have reduced me to shouting at the screen!