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Developer Taito Options
Distributer Mindscape 1-4 Players
Game Type Arcade Sports Sim Memory Card
Review Date November 1997 Multi-tap
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Setting the Scene
As the European soccer season approaches the mid-way stage Mindscape unveil a further addition to the ever growing list of Playstation football games with Taito's smash arcade hit, Super Football Champ.

Over the last 12 months I have witnessed foul play with FIFA '97, the challenging gameplay of Soccer '97, the motion captured splendor of Actua Soccer Club Edition, and the best soccer game on the PSX to date, ISS Pro. I was a little tentative about loading up Mindscapes review disc of Super Football Champ as the preview I played about four months ago appeared to be heading in the opposite direction from all other PSX soccer titles. While rivals were striving for the ultimate next generation sports sim with silky smooth motion captured graphics, multiple viewing perspectives, tight gameplay and top celebrity commentators, Super Football Champ was going back to the basics with chunky arcade graphics, single camera angle and goals galore. Where would this road lead? Let's find out.

As I mentioned, Super Football Champ is different. It is pure arcade action that deflates the idea that all video soccer games must be a serious simulation of the sport. SFC is the type of football game that you would spend your loose change on for an hour or so in the arcades before scoffing a packet of chips on the way home.

The intro looks promising enough. Each of the games star players are featured as they display their repertoire of skillful moves before powering the ball into the back of the net.

The in-game graphics are typically arcade with bulky polygon players plodding around the pitch, pushing and shoving for possession of the ball. Although they appear as a squad of numbered clones, your star player does stand out from the crowd with his individual features and hair style (not forgetting to mention the flashing 'Ace' arrow over his head).

Many mannerisms have been coded into the game. When subjected to hard tackles the player will roll across the pitch clutching his injured leg before slowly heaving himself back onto his feet. If tripped from behind he will stagger for a few strides before regaining his composure. The most impressive actions have been saved for the after goal celebrations as scorers perform cartwheels, somersaults, sliding dives and a selection of synchronized team formations that have become part of today's game.

Super Football Champ slips up in the viewing department with it's lack of camera angles. I would have preferred if the camera had been a little further back but the default setting is the only one available and passing proves difficult in this close up mode. There is an on-screen radar but I find those things more of a distraction.

Sounds and Effects
The music is only just bearable which is more than I can say about the commentary. Whenever you are tackled you are subjected to the commentators (if that's what you could call him) sarcastic ridicule as he croaks - "He gives it straight back". Fair enough, but surely not every single time that you lose possession of the ball. In fact you begin to lose the will to score when every effort is accompanied by -"He shoooots, he shoooots. Gooooal, gooooal, goal". I can't say anymore about this fellow as I am getting annoyed just thinking about him.

Luckily there is an option to turn this crap off but that only leaves you with the mind numbing repetitive chants from the crowd. Look, do yourself a favor and turn the volume on your set right down before you even think about playing this game.

While your in the options menu (turning the sound off) you may tinker with the game settings. The duration of the match may last from 2 - 18 minutes with the difficulty level ranging from easy to very hard when playing against the computer. The offside rule may be switched off for a more flowing game while extra time may include the sudden death rule for a definite outcome.

There are 30 International teams to choose from with the skill set at the level of their real-life counterparts. Each player will perform to the positional strengths of their team - apart from the 'Ace'. Before a match begins you must first select your team from the mighty Brazilians to the Japanese minnows. Then you must select one Ace player from a choice of eight. Each has an individual flair or skill. He may possess a super power-shot, expert dribbling skills, a master at disguising his rough play, a lightning fast runner, a free kick expert or a genius of the feint. If your Ace player receives the ball during play then he will perform to his capabilities and probably run rings around the opposition before powering a shot into the top corner of the net. This leads to more goals and scores of 11-9 will not be uncommon. This makes a pleasant change from developers producing an error free game that usually ends up in a 1-0 win or a boring goal-less draw. SFC is about scoring goals, lots of goals.

The controls are similar to other soccer games with long and short passes, one-twos, shooting and sliding tackles, but it's the inclusion of a 'rough play' button that adds a further element to the gameplay. If the oppositions star player is running rings around your defenders then a press of the appropriate button will see your player shoulder charge him off the ball or stick out a leg to trip him up. Better still you can actually grab hold of him, lift him up and then throw him off the ball WWF style. This will probably lead to a booking, but what the Hell. SFC is about fouls, vicious fouls.

Super Football Champ feature four modes of play. Exhibition is a single player game against the CPU, a head to head against a mate or a cooperative partnership against the CPU. Worldwide Tournament begins with group matches before entering the quarter finals for a straight knockout. District Tournament is a straight KO competition, while the inclusion of a Penalty Competition allows practice for those sudden death situations.

Value for Money
Super Football Champ is a 'back-to-the-basics' arcade soccer game rather than the simulated precision football package that other developers are aiming for and this makes a pleasant change. It is simple enough for the kids to pick up and play and who knows... they may even enjoy the commentary (take them to a specialist, they desperately need treatment).

GRAPHICS: Good While the kids should enjoy this, it is may not be to the liking of the soccer purist. There were many things that annoyed me about this game. The sound effects were damaging my health, the players responded late to the instructions from your joypad and the game generally chugged along rather than smoothly flow, as we know this 'sexy sport' can. If you prefered the days when soccer games were simple to play then SFC should be to your liking. If not, try before you buy.
VALUE: Average

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