|Developed by:||Sensible Software|
Ordinarily I wouldn’t review a coverdisk game. But then this is no ordinary coverdisk.
Released with issue 21 of Amiga Power in 1993, the idea actually started two issues earlier in issue 19. One of the regular Amiga Power features was something called ‘In The Style Of…’ that would take a well known game and ask the developers to mash it up with something of their choice. Entries included Putty meets ‘The Wild Bunch’ director Sam Peckinpah, Syndicate meets It’s a Wonderful Life and Videokid meets ‘Alien’ designer H R Giger.
Then there was this. Put together by Sensible stalwarts Stoo Cambridge and Jon Hare, the original ‘In The Style Of…’ was a deliberately bad taste, tongue in cheek mash up of king of football games Sensible Soccer and the (then) forthcoming Cannon Fodder, dropping the Sensible Soccer squad behind enemy lines with tanks, choppers and explosions across the pitch.
And that is normally where such a concept would end, simply a one page, inside-back-cover filler feature that is forgotten as soon as the page is turned. Only Sensible had other ideas.
Fast forward two months and the January issue came mounted with one of the most memorable coverdisks in Amiga magazine history as ‘In The Style of…’ came to life in spectacular style.
There are three game modes to choose from, all based on the Sensible Soccer 92/93 game engine, each pitting England against perennial foe Germany. Battle lines are drawn as you face off in war-torn 1944, recreate history in 1966 and plod around hopelessly in 1993.
The 1993 version is of course effectively just a demo of Sensi, the greatest football videogame of all time. That means you get to experience the sublime, intuitive control, the fast and fluid gameplay, the immersive sound and the small but perfectly formed graphics.
The 1966 version meanwhile puts you in the boots of our nation’s World Cup winning heroes. It is the same beautiful game, played out in a period-conjuring black and white.
But the real fun is to be had with the outrageous 1944 version. To start with, things look perfectly normal. Two teams take to the field and line up for the kick off. As play commences you realise that there is something different about the ball but you carry on passing it amongst your team. A lobbed pass to your striker looks to have set him in the clear until the ball takes an awkward bobble, your curiosity turning to shock as the ‘ball’ starts frantically flashing orange and before you can say, ‘Excuse me ref,’ it promptly explodes in a ball of fiery death, taking out any players unlucky enough to have been standing in the blast radius. Play then resumes with a free kick awarded to whichever team received the most damage, the grenade-ball resuming it’s violent interpretation of pass-the-parcel until the end of the match.
As with the other two modes, a single goal wins, which is disappointing in one sense but does add to the knockabout, frantic atmosphere of the game. So for maximum carnage, you can play two player, keeping the ball in play as long as possible, trying to tempt your mate into taking possession, the game degenerating into a panic stricken, deadly game of dodge ball.
The greatest football game of all time meets one of the greatest videogames of all time.
It’s all in gloriously bad taste and it’s an absolute riot.