European Champions logo

IDEA * £25.99

The year is 1992, and there already far too many football games out there. So what has this one got over others? Well, it doesn't actually come with an instruction manual. Nope. Instead you get a rather tasteless poster.

The game is actually as crap as the poster, unfortunately, as it could have been so good. It's one of those footy games where the ball sticks to your feet, the action is interrupted by pointless animation sequences, the ball always goes out from goal kicks. The graphics are typically green...

Sonically the game is a real blaster. I got a headache. Yup, it was a bad IDEa releasing this one...

European Champions logo

Now we're not exactly proud of it, but this is our lowest mark ever.

Sigh... Okay, just one more football game. This one is interestingly based on the recent European Championships (surprise!), but goes one step better and includes the correct qualifying groups as well as the final stages. The graphics are quite pretty (especially the cute little animations when the ref - seemingly at random - gives a foul and the players wave their arms in protest in close up), and scroll smoothly at good speed. End of good points.

I never, ever thought I'd see a computer game that put up worse opposition than Cover Girl Poker, but I was wrong. In my first game of European Champions, having built up a 12-0 lead in the first half against Switzerland by the fiendish tactic of running straight up the middle of the pitch, hitting the ball from about 20 yards out so that it bounced off the goalkeeper and knocking in the rebound, I decided to give the Amiga a chance of a comeback.
The whole of the second half was spent with the joystick lying on the desk with the auto-fire switched on (so the game didn't stop for goal kicks etc) and me on the other side of the room watching an Eric Schwartz Wile E Coyote demo. Final score? 12-0.

I tried again, watching this time, and was deeply entertained to watch the computer team repeatedly get the ball, run up the middle of the pitch, kick it from about 20 yards so that it bounced off my keeper (going well so far, eh?), then kick the rebound against the bar and kick the rebound from that over the top from about 12 feet away. Every single time.
Actually I'm lying, they scored once by punting one from just inside the halfway line which trundled past my goalie and into the net, but they didn't seem to learn the lesson.

The game claims to have an Arcade Phase and a Strategy Phase but what the Strategy Phase actually amounts to is picking your team (by way of a pointlessly confusing selection system symptomatic of the game's all-round presentation, which is quite awesomely abysmal) from a squad of identically-talented players (although it irritatingly reverts to the default selection before the start of every match) and choosing the formation and, er, that's it.

Oh, and if you weren't confused already, you soon will be. The game is quite happy to let two teams play in near-identical strips, so you have to rely on the big coloured arrows above the players' heads to identify your men. Howe inconvenient, then, that the arrow colours swap over at half-time so that the colour which represented your side in the first half indicates the opposition in the second. Mind you, if you're inadvertently trying to control the other team during the second half, at least there's a very slightly better chance of a tighter scoreline at the end...

It isn't as tacky as Cover Girl Poker or Geisha, or it isn't as unplayable as Space Ace II (although the occasional occurrence of a ug which makes the ball teleport randomly across the pitch doesn't help much), it isn't (quite) as tedious as A320 Airbus, but this is still the most utterly abominable full-price game I've seen on the Amiga so far.

If you like playing darts by yourself it might entertain you for 10 minutes, but anyone who buys this will be the victim of the most criminal theft of anybody's money since Robert Maxwell went to sleep with the fishies.