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Reviews (0-9 / A-M)

Exciting Soccer

983 (1-2 Players)



Overview and game play

One of the oldest arcade football games is Exciting Soccer, released in 1983. One coin is required for a one player game against the CPU and two coins enables a 2 player game, but not for 2 players against each other. Instead, each player must play the CPU in turn and whoever scores the highest number of points against the CPU out of the 2 players is the winner. The game begins with a team select screen where the player can choose the nationality of his team from 6 available: Italy, Austria, Great Britain, France, Germany and Brazil. There are no details given about the strengths or weaknesses of the teams and it does not appear to make a difference which team is chosen. The player must choose his team by moving the flashing cursor that appears left or right and pressing button 1 within 10 seconds. A counter counts down to show how much time the player has left to decide. If no choice is made by the player within 10 seconds or as soon as the player has chosen a team, the computer chooses a team for the player, (but not if the player has already picked a team), and automatically chooses a team for itself at random from the remaining teams available.



The football field is then displayed from an aerial viewpoint and the players of each team and a referee dressed in black walk to their positions on the pitch. The players team always kick off at the beginning of a match and the computer automatically does this by making the member of the players team nudge the ball forward a small distance. Each match lasts only 2 minutes as indicated by a counter in the top right of the game area and there is no half time changeover of sides. Press button 1 and the player will make a short or long pass to another player. Press button 2 and the player will shoot the ball. If not in possession of the ball, pressing either button will make the player attempt to tackle the nearest active opponent. When the player is in possession of the ball a flashing box appears around him to show he is the actively controlled player and each kick while dribbling moves the ball forward a short distance quickly and then the ball suddenly halts. This produces the effect of either the ball being very heavy or the grass on the pitch being too long. A flashing box also highlights the nearest active player of the opponents’ team and a player of the player’s team who is available to receive a pass. Pressing button 1 results in low or high accurate passes depending upon the distance between the players and pressing button 2 kicks the ball in the direction the player is facing.

Despite many missing features such as injury time, extra time and substitutions there are some rules of football evident in Exciting Soccer such as offside, goal and corner kicks, throw-ins and penalties. Exciting soccer was perhaps not intended as a detailed simulation of football and as such is more like a school yard game of young children rather than a professional match where player formations, red and yellow cards and free kicks are all present. The large number of missing features may dissuade some football fans from even trying to play Exciting Soccer, but people who are not concerned about details can still enjoy the game. The fact that football arcade games have developed considerably since Exciting Soccer’s release only emphasizes how primitive the game is but that is just a symptom of progress. Scoring a goal makes all the players in your team run around shaking their arms in the air. Some cheerleaders who stand by the CPU’s goal wave their pom-poms and do a victory dance for the player’s team. In the event that neither team scores a goal in the 2 minutes or ordinary match time, the game is declared a tie. A text message then appears saying the player can still win the match by participating in a penalty shoot out against the CPU. Each team is given 5 penalties against the other’s goalkeeper and the team with the most goals wins. Loosing a penalty shoot out automatically results in the game ending, so extra tension is created. The goalkeeper can be made to face left or right and then automatically leaps to the side he is facing if the ball is struck away from the middle. If taking the penalty, an arrow rapidly moves across the opposing team’s goal and upon pressing button 2 the striker will shoot the ball at the position where the arrow reached. If one is successful in a penalty shoot out or if one scores more goals than the other team in ordinary match time, the match is won and the team selection screen is displayed again for the CPU to choose another team to play as.



Graphics are basic and dated by today’s standards, but are about average for the date of Exciting Soccer’s release. None of the people in the crowd at the top and bottom of the pitch can be identified as people, and none of them carry any banners or signs either. Adverts are placed at the top and bottom of the pitch for some fictitious products that are purposely misspelled versions of real life goods, presumably to avoid copyright and trademark infringement problems from the companies imitated. Animation of the on screen characters is rudimentary, although one good detail has been included in the graphics as the ball gets larger while it is in the air to show it is getting closer to the players overhead viewpoint. 




The sound effects of Exciting Soccer are of a good standard for an early 80’s game. Each movement has its own little spot effect that is generated by the CPU and not digitised and the referees’ whistle can easily be recognised. When an event such as a throw in or kick off occurs, a voice says what is happening in digitised speech. The speech is barely recognisable, as the technology at the time did not permit a higher quality sample without being extremely expensive, so just to be sure the message is conveyed the programmers also chose to write in text what the voice is saying. The CPU generated music is pleasant and is appropriate for the game. 



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