ITALIA '90 REVIEW - March 1992
The Speccy is a machine that's pretty well-served with footy games (Match Day I and II, Emlyn Hughes, Kick Off 2, etc etc), but that didn't stop another truckload of them being released a couple of years ago when the World Cup came round again. This game was the bearer of the official licence, which makes it all the more strange when you consider that out of every Speccy football game there's ever been, this one bears the least resemblance to any World Cup tournament ever seen. For a start you only get to play one of four (count 'em!) teams, either England, Spain, Belgium or Italy. Wow. An inspiring selection and no mistake. As a Scotsman I pondered for seconds and seconds over which one I'd be, but after a few games playing for England and deliberately getting thrashed, I decided it was time to get a grip on myself and play the game properly. Big mistake.
The first impression you get when the teams lumber out onto the pitch is 'Ugh, what repulsively crude and blobby graphics'. Still, they're animated nicely and reasonably clear (unlike some other footy efforts where the players merge into one big impenetrable mass of colour clash), so I'll forgive the tacky look. What's harder to forgive is the gameplay. Sophisticated tactics go right out of the window here, the name of the game is 'Get the ball and weave your way up the pitch until you get into your opponent's penalty area, then when the view switches to a behind-the-player one with your striker against the goalkeeper, move from side to side for a while until there's a space in front of you and punt the ball straight into the net. Easy.' Well, that WAS the name of the game, but Tronix decided that 'Italia '90' was a bit snappier.
Anyway, after a few minutes of this you're likely to get completely bored and start exploring the game's other innovative features instead. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any, so that won't take you very long. Italia 90 is so basic that it doesn't even have halves, for goodness sake! Each game lasts 4 units of unspecified time, during which there are no breaks - the teams shoot one way all the time, and if the game is drawn at the end they simply continue playing until one of them scores. The winner moves into the next round (a sudden-death World Cup tournament?) against someone like The People's Republic Of China (well-known force in world football), and so on until you either win the Cup or lose a game. It's about as much like a World Cup - or football at all, for that matter - as Dannii Minogue is like a steam-powered ocean liner. Complete tosh.
A little-known fact about the Italia 1990 World Cup is that absolutely every Costa Rican player who took part was a drug-addled cheat and should never have been allowed on the field.