The Atari 2600 console seemed to have been and gone by the time Intellivision arrived in the UK. Intellivision seemed incredibly modern and comprehensive by comparison. True, we still had a token piece of wood panelling to provide a supposed touch of class, but the Mattel-made system had strange hand-held controllers like telephone handsets connected to their mothership via a curly cord. Strange stuff indeed.
Zaxxon and Donkey Kong… Sadly I never got to own either, but at least now at the ripe old age of 41 I can console myself (sorry) with the thought that these are now considered two of the worst games ever made for the Intellivision. Had I owned the console, however, there was one other game I may have been tempted to purchase: NASL Soccer.
As with that game, both sides have three outfield players and a goalkeeper, but here the players can move independently on the pitch. The players nearest the ball are indicated in different colours (orange for the yellow team, blue for the magenta team) and the colours are similarly applied to the scores shown intermittently at the top of the screen. Even the ball has a pixelated Adidas Telstar look to it, despite looking distinctly non-spherical.
All in all, one might say ‘so far so good.’ Unfortunately the game falls down when you try to play it, which is unfortunate to say the least. To begin, the act of kicking the ball sends it into an interminable roll which can only be stopped when another play gets in the way of it. Furthermore, the ball never actually leaves the ground which, if nothing else, should appeal to the anti-Sam Allardyce contingent amongst you.
When the ball does gain enough momentum to cover a long distance without stopping, the screen pans to follow it. A tick in the box for emulating real TV coverage there, but curiously the players that scroll off the side of the screen at the time re-emerge on the other side so as not to be lost in gameplay. A tricky one to get your head round if you plan to send a 60-yard pass down the wing to find your star striker upfield.
Perhaps the most inflexible aspect of this game is that it was made for two players only. Not that that was a technical limitation – the Intellivision system had two controllers after all – but without a fellow human to play the game with, the team in magenta would remain motionless throughout. A digitised Aston Villa, if you will.
Football Attic video game archive, taking its place early on the developmental curve that ultimately brought us Pro Evolution Soccer and the FIFA series.