Licenses and games have gone hand in hand. Throughout the history of games this has been so. A recent example would be Harry Potter. The general consensus is one of stick a license on a game and it will sell. Live and Let Die on the CPC is a good exponent of this syndrome. Here we have a decent Powerboat game (see Shaun's review) that probably wouldn't set the gaming world alight but add the Bond license and you have a sure-fire hit (maybe). But generally licenses sell games as there is a ready made fan base. That's why its curious that Audiogenic decided on using Emlyn Hughes as the name for their football game. Granted Hughes was a Liverpool great but of the 1970's. At the time of the release in 1989 Hughes is hardly a Lineker or a Gazza and unlikely to sell the game to any sort of Hughes fan base. It didn't matter as for me it was the greatest 8-bit football game and only surpassed with the arrival of the sublime Sensible Soccer on the Amiga years later. That's not to say that there were no decent 8 bit football titles before Emlyn showed up, the Matchday series were acknowledged as probably the closest representation of the game and indeed they played a good game but Emlyn played a better one.
Long ball over the top
The Keeper fumbles
Once loaded the signs are not good with probably one of the worst front ends I have ever seen. Basically its a white screen with some pull down menus hardly user friendly. But while its damn ugly the menus provide a whole host of options. Skill levels can be set from 1 up to 9 , game length from 2 minutes to 90. Whether to play home and away fixtures. These small details were missing from most other football games at the time so were welcome additions. Likewise the game menu offered options to play a season, league, cup or friendly matches. Pretty comprehensive but the way you select a team to control is a little stupid with you having to edit the team you want to be i.e. England and then you have to type over the computers name with your own. The "pick team" menu was for selecting your actual playing 11 once you had taken control of the team. It sounds as awkward as it is. After battling through the menus and selecting a team and competition be prepared for a footballing experience second to none.
Football is all about passing and moving. Here Emlyn succeeds. Playing the match feels right with the players under your control able to perform a variety of moves. The well animated sprite can slide tackle, head the ball and most importantly control the ball with some degree of accuracy. The longer you hold down fire the harder the ball is kicked. While holding the fire button pushing the joystick in any of the 8 directions produces the relevant kick. So if you push the joystick in the opposite direction to that which you travel you will get a high pass or shot. This level of control actually makes it possible to construct some free flowing passing play. Unlike many other football games winning matches by the huge margins is unlikely on the higher skill levels until you really put some practice in. And with nine increasingly difficult levels your going to be playing this game for a long time.
User friendly it isn't
The graphics are especially well drawn with players looking the part. Unless you change the colours yourself you will find that there are only two football kit colours but this doesn't hamper any enjoyment from the game. The pitch itself is too long with the area between the midfield and the two penalty boxes not quite to the right dimensions. Nicely the spot effects are well used with the crowd and klaxons noise replicated to add a little atmosphere to the proceedings. The awful front end may but people off who just want a quick game but what matters is how the game plays and in that department Emlyn Hughes International Soccer kicks its opponents off the park.
THE END RESULT
Nicely animated sprites and control
Good spot effects
Plays the beautiful game
Poor menu system may deter players
THE BOTTOM LINE 90%