Subbuteo recreates the famous table football game, which makes for something very different from Sensible/Kick Off/FIFA style games. It's effectively a turn-based strategy game of sorts, as each player has 30 seconds to make their move (within a 30 minute match length), which involves first selecting a player, then aiming the direction in which he will be flicked, then the power and swerve of the flick are determined by the length of time the button is held down for.
With any luck, your player will hit the ball, and hit it such that it doesn't leave the playing area, and doesn't hit an opponent. If any of those rules are violated, possession passes to the opposition. Before each flick, the team not in possession can make a 'defensive flick' involving moving one of their players into a potential blocking position (without hitting the ball or an opponent, as this is a foul).
Subbuteo is a solid PC version of the popular miniature soccer game in the UK that most kids grow up with. Similar to Foosball in the US but much more akin to the actual game, Subbuteo the tabletop game is still widely popular and sold by Hasbro UK.
This computerized version by Goliath Games does come very close to the real thing, except that, perhaps not surprisingly, the game is slower and more tactical than the real thing. One of the game's best features is the excellent user interface. To kick the ball, you first select the player you want, rotate an arrow to choose which direction to kick (or "flick" in Subbuteo parlance), then hold the fire button down while the strength of flick bar goes up. When you release the fire button a second "swerve" bar goes up. Press fire in the middle of this bar for a straight flick. You get more swerve on the ball the further away from the middle you press. These selections are done "real time", so timing and reflexes are crucial. The computer player is very good at swerve, and his defensive flicks are very accurate. You can consult comprehensive Subbuteo rules at any time during the game, and the game even offers the relevant section of the rulebook automatically whenever you make a mistake. Overall, Subbuteo is an excellent computerized version of a unique tabletop soccer game that is well worth a look, whether or not you have played the original before. Highly recommended!
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Sid Meier's SimGolf, Sydney 2000, Striker '96, Striker '95, Street Racer, Ski or Die, Sport of Kings (a.k.a. Omni-play Horse Racing), Tactical Manager
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