Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it’s here at last, the game that’s been hyped more than Jason Donovan’s sexuality. (Whoops! He’s not gay, honest!)
Previews galore (ours included!) screamed that Champions Of Europe would be the greatest Master System footie game EVER. And by golly, I think us reviewing bods were right for once!
Okay, it’s yet another soccer simulation, but two things make Champions stand out from the rest of the footy game squad: controlability and attention to detail.
The MS joypad isn’t the easiest thing to use at the best of times, but after a while TecMagik’s ‘instinctive’ control mechanism really comes to the tore — manoeuvring players is a real doddle.
The front end of the games enormous! There’s a fully animated opening sequence for a start. Berni the Rabbit spots a football, leaps out of his warren and displays a few hare-raising (geddit?!) tricks of the trade.
Choose game length (three, five, eight or ten minutes each half), direction of play, windspeed and weather conditions. There’s an extra time option and a list of eight intelligent referees. (Uncannily, one has the surname of Hemming. Any relation, Nikki?)
The demo mode’s great if you want a taste of things to come and if your goal scoring’s a little rusty, the practice section’s well worth a look-in. It’s a five penalty kick-off with alternate control between keeper and shooter. Shooting and saving are no longer a hassle. A welcome inclusion indeed!
There are an amazing 34 teams to choose from. Each country’s selected via a nifty little map of Europe. You won’t need an ‘A’ level in Geography to fathom things out ‘cos on-screen messages keep you in touch with all things relevant!
Play against the Master System or a friend. All teams have their own individual strengths and weaknesses and a game between Germany and Malta, for example, could see those Maltesers well and truly crushed! Yuk!
Graphically, the pitch and players are top notch. Like many soccer games, you get an overhead view of the match, although in Champions it’s angled at 75 degrees. No shots of player’s perms, thank heaven, though chests, legs and arms are out in force! Each sprite oozes animation.
The pitch itself scrolls really well and the game doesn’t slow down in the slightest when there’s a lot going on. There are so many nice little touches that make Champions Of Europe a real winner. Take the ‘sprint’ feature tor example — it’s a godsend! When the ball’s free rolling there’s no slow slog up the pitch to chase it, press button and your man goes into overdrive!
Tackles, fouls and substitutions are great. Little speech bubbles pop out of player’s mouths. ‘Ouch!’ ‘Aaaagh!’ and censored expletives appear when a man goes arse over tit! The ref waves his card and may send the instigator oft. Watch as the guilty party curses profusely! Great fun.
Attributes a-plenty and that’s no lie! The referees race here, there and everywhere calling out the score and time remaining. The turf around the goalmouth gets roughed up when things get a frantic, just like the real thing.
The five-match tournament’s a tough challenge. There’s a huge onus on doing well ‘cos you could be up against some of the finest teams in Europe — if not the world! You’re kept up to date at all times with the latest match info. See if the opposition’s cracking under the pressure!
With extra time, sudden death penalty knockouts, a crosshair system for taking corners and the chance to change tactics mid-game, Champions Of Europe has everything a footie fan could ever want from an MS game — and more!
After the initial period of ‘breaking in’ the control method, it’s immensely playable. There’s no contusion over which team’s which, 16 colours have been used to supply the 34 countries with individual strips.
Thankfully, those clever guys at TecMagik haven’t gone overboard on the sound. There’s a nice intro tune but during play sound’s been left at basic spot FX — an in-game ditty would’ve ruined things.
This game’s got balls! The great finishing touches and element of humour that runs throughout add a great atmosphere.
I’m not a football freak and have only ever stood in the terraces once in my life! The letters B, O, R, I, N, G were splattered all over my face! Champions Of Europe’s far from boring and will make Mega Drive owners everywhere green with envy ‘cos there ‘ain’t a decent 16-bit soccer game around. Congratulations, TecMagik, you’ve netted a good un’ here!
Yep! No argument from this corner. First glance at the opening sequences and you know you’ve got something a bit special here. Just look at the choice! Graphically, Champions Of Europe’s damned tough to fault. Sure, it may take you a little while to handle the controls but, once you’re in, this is one helluva smooth playing game. By giving the better ‘real’ teams more skills in the game it means you get a true-to-life playing experience, adding atmosphere and credibility to an already superb footie blast. Keeping the sonics to a minimum during playing time helps with the pressure on the old tactical grey ceils and, even though you never a get glimpse of Jimmy Hill’s chin, you ain’t seen nothing like this on the MS before. ‘Ere we go, ere we go, ‘ere we go and all that!
Just has to be the top footie game on the MS.