RealSports Soccer

Atari 5200

Review by Jeff Cooper



Graphics: ?

Sound: ?

Gameplay: ?

Overall: 5

realsportssoccer.gif (2792 bytes)Ah, this review brings forth both such grief and celebration. It grieves me to give this cart such a bad grade because it holds such a special place in my heart. But, cheers, that same bad grade reflects the incredible improvement in sports games over the course of my video career.

Critics hailed 5200 Soccer universally upon its release in early 1983. Gone were the little squares and dots of 2600 soccer. This was the real thing. Though stick figures, the players featured remarkably smooth animation. Ball movement was extremely realistic, right down to the ball's shadow. Great use was made of the 5200s revolutionary analog controllers--move the joystick a little and the player walks. Jerk it all the way to the side and he sprints. Though 5200 joysticks are much maligned (and justifiably so--they never work), let's remember that everyone out there today is gushing about analog control; Atari was a pioneer in this area. Atari also employed the keypad nicely. By punching appropriate numbers and buttons players can blast short, medium, or long shots, ground or aerial passes. In all, the game captured quite a bit of the feel of soccer back then. Computer controlled players make runs and run onto passes, one-on-one showdowns with defenders introduce some real competition, and it's jst about as exasperating to hit the crossbar in this game as it is in real soccer.

Even back in 1983 the game had its serious flaws. The one player game is worthless; you can score at will against the computer. There is little art to shooting. Short, medium, and long shots will always score from certain spots (and never score from others), so your task is to navigate yourself to those spots via dribbling and passing, shake your defender, and let fly. Goalies are completely computer controlled and if you shoot from the right spot they'll basically just stand there and let the ball go in.

This game gave me hundreds of hours of fun in the early to mid-eighties. I imagine it plays as well as or better than any other "classic" soccer cart; indeed, the two-player game is more fun than lots of soccer garbage that came out for the NES and SMS. Still, why bother when there are so many superior versions of soccer currently available for the 32-bit systems? Today it's just a nostalgia piece that holds very little play value but lots of fond memories.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:30 PM