Retro Rated – Striker

Taken from History Of…Football Management Games – Part 2;

Striker (1989)

Cult Games released a slew of football games and following hot on the heels of On The Bench was this cracking effort.

Harking back to Gremlin’s Footballer of the Year (covered in part one) the game sees you take control of a single player, the eponymous Striker of the title, rather than a whole team.

You start off in Division 4 with a choice from one of 16 teams and the option to choose your nationality. The menus have the now familiar Cult / D&H feel to them with green backgrounds and single button presses to take you into the required screen. Of course as you are playing a single position and not the team, there is no squad page to look at and none of that management gubbins either. Instead you have other options, such as the ability to conduct some training, check out the fixture list or talk to your agent about a new contract or the chance of a big money move.

But these are just the mechanics. Like any good football game, the core of the experience is out on the field and here Striker stands apart from the crowd.

Assuming that you are picked to play, starting a match takes you to the usual scoreboard screen, this time replete with rudimentary looking goal and one-step-up-from-stickman goalkeeper. As the clock ticks along, goal chances periodically pop up, at which point your player magically appears somewhere on screen with a chance of glory.

Goal chances vary in difficulty, from simple tap ins to the tightest of tight angles. Whichever chance pops up, the control method is the same. As your man faces goal, a little dial moves from left to right, dictating the angle that your shot will be played. When you think you have it lined up, press the button to unleash your shot at goal, being careful to avoid the ‘keepers desperate lunge.

It’s a simple but terrific system. The dial gives you enough range of movement to always be capable of scoring, no matter the angle. It starts off at a fairly sedate speed but picks up as you progress through the divisions; it’s a real jolt when you draw a top division team in the cup and find the thing flapping around like an excited bird.

There are some limitations. The graphics take a few seconds to draw, the dial starting it’s swing sometimes before you have a chance to get your bearings. This is compensated for by the fact that you get a set number of complete swings before the chance is missed, so you have the opportunity to set yourself. By its very nature, this is a limited, repetitive experience. Transfer bids that crop up when you play well keep things interesting, although with no opportunity to check the table before making your decision you have to hope that the big money offer from Colchester is a step up and not a drop down.

Like all games based on a single position experience, by definition you have no control over team affairs so are powerless to prevent the side taking a hammering and dropping down the league, regardless of how many you slot into the onion bag. But then that’s not really the point. Football may be a team game but this is all about individual glory.

In some ways there is less to this than the aforementioned Footballer of the Year. But as an overall game and a representation of the sport, this hangs together far better.

A top notch entry and well worth revisiting.

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