In the past, football programs have tended to concentrate upon playing the game or managing it. With the advent of Superior Soccer you can do both. Once you have specified whether or not you will be playing alone or with a friend, your next job is to decide which sections you intend to tackle.
Realising that you may not always have a full evening free, Superior allows you to play either the arcade or the management part in isolation. The arcade game provides a comprehensive list of options. The ten skill levels determine the ability of the opposition in the one-player game or the skill of both goal-keepers when using the two-player option. Other niceties allow you to specify the duration of a match or change the colours of the team's shirts.
SUPERIOR SOCCER does not support a joystick option so you and your opponent must each select a set of keys with which to control your respective teams. You control only one player at a time and he is identified by arrows. The program determines which player you control by always selecting the one nearest the ball when you relinquish control of the current one. This feature can be over-ridden to some degree by keeping a man moving once he has been chosen.
Players can perform a whole range of footballing type antics, such as passing, tackling, heading and throwing - providing that you can master the controls, that is.
The instructions mention that some of the activities require a great deal of practice before you can execute them fluently. They are not kidding: I must have made twenty abortive attempts to pass the ball before I eventually succeeded. The best way to practice your ball skills is to select the two-player option and then play alone - your chances of winning are also improved slightly.
Superior Soccer's graphics are very good. A large central window follows the movement of the ball as it is booted around the pitch by the Gauntlet-style players.
Player movement off the ball and your position in relation to the whole pitch can be monitored by glancing at the Pitch Scanner. This small green rectangle is a map of the pitch on which both teams and the ball are represented by different coloured dots - not that you will find much time to look at it.
One of the game's fun features is the cartoon commentator who issues forth a constant stream of David Colemanisms, but only in speech bubbles. If you begin to find the arcade action a little too hectic you can always sit back and play at being the boss.
Starting in any of the four divisions you must fight your way into one of the top two positions in order to achieve promotion. Your best bet is to gain some experience and money by spending a couple of seasons in division four, before making a concerted effort for the big time.
Your first task as manager is to survey your squad and assess which players are at peak fitness - this can be done by observing their skill and strength ratings.
When playing the management game alone, you just sit and wait for the match results to be displayed on the screen. Following a brief look at the league table you can nip down to the transfer market. Here you can offer one of your down-and-outs for sale and hope that some mug will bid a million.
As you reach the end of the season you may just about be able to afford to buy a new striker, if one is available. The program determines what calibre of player is to be sold and at what price. If either of these factors do not meet your requirements then that's too bad, because there won't be another sale until after next week's game.
The secret of good management is to monitor the skill and strength of each team member closely. If each player is not rested at regular intervals the performance of the whole team can suffer dramatically.
If you have a spare evening at your disposal you can take a shot at both managing and playing. But with eleven games per season, this may prove a little taxing for all but the most ardent of football fanatics.
By combining both the arcade and management routines into one composite program, Superior has given the punter the best of all worlds. No longer can the relegated manager blame lady luck for his downfall. By stepping out on to the pitch with his lads he has nobody to blame but himself.* * * Second Opinion (By Steve Turnbull) * * *
First it was golf and now it's soccer, here we go...Not being an arcade game fan I only took a passing glance at the "tactical" part of the game - the David Coleman-clone was mildly amusing but his comments were limited and continued even when there was no action on the pitch. The managing section was very simple to use but definitely fun - it kept my attention for several hours. And I'd recommend it for a quiet evening's entertainment.