European Club Soccer

In 1992, I was just beginning to become interested in football. I was playing in my school team, and at weekends would play for local Saturday morning teams. My love of football meant that I also saught out football computer games. FIFA and Pro Evolution were a few years away yet, so I purchased European Club Soccer.

Screenshot from Video-Games-Museum.com

Known as World Trophy Soccer in North America, and J-League Champion Soccer in Japan, this football game was developed by Krisalis Software (Game Arts in Japan) and published by Virgin Games for the Sega Mega Drive in 1992. I reviewed the Sega Mega Drive version.

Playable in one and two-player mode, you can choose over 150 teams from Europe to compete in tournaments. Naturally they do not have the real player names, but many of the teams are recognisable. For example, Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus etc., are available, as well as some odd additions such as Rotherham United.

I remember that I always wanted this game as a kid because I thought it looked excellent, and the cover art really sold it to me. The in-game graphics are good (for 1992), but sadly the gameplay was a let-down. Oddly, there is no “shoot” button per se, only low pass and high pass. Frustratingly, the players lose the ball if they change direction too fast whilst dribbling. Scoring from a cross or corner is pretty much impossible too. In order to score, I found that I had to have one of my players stand in front of their goalkeeper to intercept a shot from another of my players. The keeper would dive out the way, allowing the intercepting player to score into an open net.

Screenshot from Video-Games-Museum.com

Due to a lack of storage, any changes made to team strips could not be saved, and the only way to continue progress through a tournament was to use a password.

Did I complete the game?

I successfuly won all leagues and cups without the Three Shredded Wheat cheat.

What the critics said:

Mean Machines: “A superbly presented game which is sadly let down by some awkward gameplay points. Overall 69%.[1]

Mean Machines Index: Megadrive soccer games have a history to beingsad and this effort does little to addressthe situation. Although the graphics and sound are very good, the gameplay is let down by low player intelligence, wonky collision detention and awkward controls. As the (very) old saying goes “try before you buy!”. Overall 69%”[2]

Sega Power: “Nice introduction and options, but the whole thing is a let down by poor gameplay. It’s simply too easy to beat in one-player mode. Overall 3/5[3]

My verdict:Not the worst football game I’ve played, but there are better ones out there to enjoy.”

Rating:

What are your memories of European Club Soccer? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Facebook.


[1] ‘Review: Mega Drive – European Club Soccer’. Mean Machines. (June 1992). Issue 21:106-8. (https://ia600306.us.archive.org/2/items/mean-machines-magazine-21/MeanMachines_21_Jun_1992.pdf Accessed 10th December 2019).

[2] ‘Review Index: Mega Drive – Euro Club Soccer’. Mean Machines. (October 1992). Issue 1:138. (https://archive.org/details/mean-machines-sega-magazine-01/page/n137/mode/2up Accessed 16th February 2020).

[3] ‘The Hard Line – Review: Mega Drive – European Club Soccer’. Sega Power. (September 1993). Issue 46:97. (https://retrocdn.net/images/b/b9/SegaPower_UK_46.pdf Accessed 17th February 2020).

Pat Riley Basketball

Reviewed by Nick Lawrence

Basketball has never been overly popular in England. Yes, we played it at school, or if one of our friends happened to persuade their parents to buy a hoop for their garden, but overall, basketball was considered very much a North American sport. In the mid-90s, Channel 4 began showing NBA games regulalry on Sundays. Had Pat Riley Basketball been released during this time, it may have proved a more popular game.

Copyright © Sega
Screenshot from vizzed.com

Pat Riley Basketball is a sports game developed and published by Sega in 1990. It was released on the Sega Mega Drive and can be played in one or two-player modes. It version was also released for the Sega Master System. I reviewed the Sega Mega Drive version.

There’s not really that much to say about this game. It did not have the license for the real team or player names, most likely because the budget went on securing Pat Riley’s association with it. The graphics are pretty good, especially during action cut scenes when players shoot and dunk. Whilst dunking, a bar appears with blue and red areas in it. A white dot moves across the bar and you must stop the white dot inside the red zone to ensure you score the basket. The same rule applies when defending a dunk. For some reason when in open play, the ball is ridiculously large. It looks more like a medicine ball.

Look at the size of that basketball!!!
Screenshot from 10min Gameplay

The gameplay does let this game down though. The pass function isn’t as responsive as it should be, and its frustrating the way the computer is able to steal the ball from you, but you can only intercept their passes to steal the ball back. Another annoyance is that once you have scored a basket, your team seems to hang around the opponent’s end, leaving your basket unattended and allowing the computer to make a B-line for it.

The graphics whilst dunking are pretty impressive
Screenshot from archive.org

Did I complete the game?

I have completed this game several times without using any cheats. You really shouldn’t need them for this game anyway, as its not that difficult to win comfortably. Sadly, there is not much of an ending to make you feel that the effort was justified.

What the critics said:

Mean Machines: (Reviewed as Super Real Basketball) “Super Real Basketball gives solid entertainment to two players, but on your own, it’s a little wearing! Overall 79%”.[1]

Sega Power: (Reviewed as Super Real Basketball) Detailed close-ups of the action, realistic court views and fairly decent sound FX. An okayish sports sim, with great two-palyer mode. Overall 2/5”[2]

My verdict:Some nice graphics, let down by the gameplay, but worth a bit of your time if you like basketball and the game is cheap to pick up.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Pat Riley Basketball? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Facebook.


[1] ‘Review: Mega Drive – Super Real Basketball’. (April 1991). Issue 7:56-57. Mean Machines. (https://archive.org/details/mean-machines-magazine-07/page/n55/mode/2up Accessed 10th December 2019).

[2] ‘The Hard Line – Review: Mega Drive – Super Real Basketball’. Sega Power. (September 1993). Issue 46:99. (https://retrocdn.net/images/b/b9/SegaPower_UK_46.pdf Accessed 17th February 2020).

John Madden Football ’92

Sports games have always been popular amongst gamers. However, technology has always held creators back from producing quality and realistic sports sims. Madden ’92 is an example of an early attempt to produce a playable American football game…and to be fair, they didn’t do a bad job.

Copyright © Electronic Arts
Screenshot from easports.com

Madden ’92 is an American football sports game developed and published by Electronic Arts for the Sega Mega Drive, beginning a franchise of yearly instalments for the video game market. I reviewed was Sega Mega Drive version.

Naturally I had heard of American football as a youngster through American films but had never actually played it. The first John Madden game gave me the opportunity to learn how the sport was played. When we picked up Madden ’92, I was pleased to see there had been some improvements. There were more plays for the teams to perform, and when a player was injured, an ambulance would drive onto the pitch, which proceeded to plough through the huddled mass of players, splaying them across the field. There was the introduction of the two-player co-operative mode, which was a novelty for sports games at the time. New play modes inlcuding pre-season, regular season, play-offs and sudden death. You were now also able to adjust game time to either 5, 10 or 15 minutes per quarter. However, there was still no license for authentic teams, stadium and player names.

Screenshot from Mobygames.com

I would always play as Chicago (because for some reason I liked the Chicago Bears), and my older brother preferred Cincinnati (Bengals). Like most sports games, Madden ‘92 is better in two-player mode. The negative aspects of this game include the fact that the players are so slow when running that trying to gain rushing yards is pointless. You may as well stick to throwing plays.

Did I complete the game?

In many modern sports games you don’t necessarily complete them, as much as win the league and cup titles and then move on to the next season. Completing early sports games simply means winning a tournament or league once before restarting with a different team. I have won the play-offs many times with several different teams including Chicago, Cincinnati, Buffalo and Philadelphia.

What the critics said:

Mean Machines:Better than the original John Madden’s football in every department. What more can be said?”. Overall 95%.”[1]

Mean Machines Index: “Featuring new teams, higher difficulty level and plenty of gameplay tweaks, this sequel does the impossible and improves upon the original to become the best Megadrive game yet seen! An essential purchase. Overall 96%[2]

Sega Power: “Better than the original, but at first sight it seems very similar. Don’t be fooled! (If you’ve got the original though – think before buying. It’s not radically different.) Overall 5/5.[3]

GamePro: “John Madden Football ’92 features the most talented computer opponent – ‘nuff said. Add to this the additional plays, two-player cooperative play, and improved graphics, and JMF ‘92 gives you great bang for your buck. Overall 5/5”.[4]

Sega Force: “Madden is one of those rare things, a complex game easy and fun to play, but with the detail to allow constant improvement by practice. Even rarer it merges detailed tactics with arcade gameplay so well, few people will be able to resist it. Overall 94%”.[5]

My verdict: “An improvement on the first game. Definitely more enjoyable in two-player mode but sadly, the game hasn’t aged well.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Madden ’92? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Facebook.


[1] ‘Review: Mega Drive – John Madden Football ’92’. Mean Machines. (December 1991). Issue 15:20-24. (https://archive.org/details/mean-machines-magazine-15/page/n25/mode/2up Accessed 10th December 2019).

[2] ‘Review Index: Mega Drive – John Madden Football ‘92’. Mean Machines. (October 1992). Issue 1:139. (https://archive.org/details/mean-machines-sega-magazine-01/page/n137/mode/2up Accessed 16th February 2020).

[3] ‘The Hard Line – Review: Mega Drive – John Madden ‘92’. Sega Power. (September 1993). Issue 46:97. (https://retrocdn.net/images/b/b9/SegaPower_UK_46.pdf Accessed 17th February 2020).

[4] Fanatic Fan. ‘GamePro’s Video Football Playoff – John Madden ‘92’ GamePro. (December 1991). Issue 29:55-56. (https://findyourinnergeek.ca/2013/10/magazine-monday-46-gamepro-issue-29-december-1991/#gallery/5a5d0712b6d4562dc1b1bb0f692dfbf5/8181 Accessed on 10th May 2020).

[5] ‘Reviewed – John Madden’s Football ’92’. Sega Force. (January 1992). Issue 1:36-7 (https://retrocdn.net/images/2/27/SegaForce_UK_01.pdf Accessed 14th June 2020).

Sonic the Hedgehog

In a bid to compete with the popularity of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros., The early nineties saw Sega introduce a new hero for their latest console, the Sega Mega Drive. Whilst it was still a platform game with a recurring antagonist, it was different enough so as not to be accused of copying Mario’s format. In 1991, Sonic burst onto the scene and has maintained a place in the hearts of retrogamers everywhere.

Copyright © Sega

Sonic the Hedgehog is a side-scrolling platform game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega. It was released on the Sega Megadrive in 1991, spawning one of the most successful videogame franchises of all time. This review is based on the Mega Drive version.

Sonic is a blue hedgehog who has the ability to run at incredible speeds. This speed, and ability to attack enemies by curling into a ball, allowing his spikes to damage his enemies, is put to use when the evil Dr. Robotnik arrives in Sonic’s homeland. He proceeds to steal the Chaos Emeralds (which have the ability to warp time and space), and captures the local wildlife, transforming them into evil robotic animals. Sonic must navigate through six zones, evading Robotnik’s minions, collecting rings (they act as health), and attempt to steal back the Chaos Emeralds which are found via special stages.

Screenshot from retrogames.cz

We bought our Sega Megadrive for Christmas 1991, and Sonic came with the package. I have very fond memories of this game and have spent many an hour playing through it (it only takes about 25 minutes to complete). Its an easy game to play but still challenging when trying to attain all Chaos Emeralds, and the game appeals to all ages of gamer.

This game really was revolutionary for its time, and still holds up well today. The sprites are beautifully illustrated and coloured, and are all unique. The music is very recognisable and even when I hear it now, I can recite every note. There are two endings depending on if you manage to collect all the Chaos Emeralds which adds a little replay value, and the high speed at which Sonic can achieve makes for exciting gameplay.

Did I complete the game?

Over the years I have completed Sonic the Hedgehog many times without the use of cheats, and will no doubt re-visit the game in the future to make sure I still can.

What the critics said:

Mean Machines:Yep, it’s true – Sonic is really great! I can’t think of a Megadrive game with more spectacular graphics…”. Overall score 92%.[1]

Entertainment Weekly: “Dazzlingly fast yet never chaotic, consistently challenging but never impossible, Sonic the Hedgehog is quite simply one of the best video games I’ve ever played. A+.”[2]

Mean Machines Index: “Sega’s hyped-beyond belief character stars in a game inspired by Nintendo’s Mario platform game series. It’s very addictive with brilliant graphics and speed. However, the gameplay is frustrating at times and experienced gamers should have this one licked within days. Overall 90%[3]

Sega Power: “World famous and rightly so. This is almost certainly the game that has sold more Sega systems than anything else. It’s a bit easy and looks slightly dated now, but it’s still one of the best games around. Overall 5/5”.[4]

Awards:

Overall Game of the Year – Golden Joystick Awards

Game of the Year – Electronic Gaming Monthly

My verdict:A revolutionary riposte to Nintendo’s Mario franchise. Every gamer should play this game as a rite of passage.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Sonic the Hedgehog? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Facebook.


[1] ‘Review: Mega Drive – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Mean Machines. (July 1991). Issue 10:42-44. (https://archive.org/details/mean-machines-magazine-10/page/n43/mode/2up Accessed 10th December 2019).

[2] Strauss, B., (August 1991). ‘Review: Mega Drive – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Entertainment Weekly. (https://ew.com/article/1991/08/23/sonic-hedgehog/ Accessed 10th December 2019).

[3] ‘Review Index: Mega Drive – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Mean Machines. (October 1992). Issue 1:140. (https://archive.org/details/mean-machines-sega-magazine-01/page/n139/mode/2up Accessed 16th February 2020).

[4] ‘The Hard Line – Review: Mega Drive – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Sega Power. (September 1993). Issue 46:98. (https://retrocdn.net/images/b/b9/SegaPower_UK_46.pdf Accessed 17th February 2020).