Yup - that's right, another all new release for the 3DO. Courtesy of OlderGames. I imagine, and to be fair it's difficult to actually imagine, but if I imagine I actually liked football, I could be all philosophical about OnSide. I also imagine if I knew anything, anything at all about the sport, this review would be whole lot better. However, I don't, and it won't, and there you go. If you were afraid this was going to be another few hundred words of me reitterating my dislike of Soccer - then be afraid, be very afraid.
So what is OnSide Soccer? Well, much like the real life sport, it's a game of two halves.
The first half is a standard football game. You guide the player around the pitch using your 3DO controller, and if you get close enough to the opponents goal, you try and boot it in. Or at least you waggle the direction-pad furiously, putting way too much pressure through your soon to be aching thumb, and when the opportunity arises, after twisting and turning you upper torso, you whack the A button in the hopeless-hope, that hope against all odds, for a virtual goal.
It feels well paced. Indeed it's positively sprightly as your players run around the screen, one of whom has a white ground glow highlighting he is under your control.
As usual for me, I couldn't quite figure out what each button did. One button certainly made my player boot the ball as hard as he could - so I stuck with that. The other button I was less sure of. It did something, although I'm not sure what. Possibly lunge or try to use his head with the ball. That's almost certainly possible that's what it did. Yep, you guessed right - I don't know.
My game, with all the predictability of the sun rising, inevitably looked the same as every other virtualized football game I ever play. Run-run-run-run, slide tackle. Run-run-run, kick with all my might. The ball then goes a little way up the pitch, and then gets taken by the opponent. It's not the game - it's me, I'm always the same. I am not only bad at real football, but also computer football.
One thing I did like was the intuitive after-touch. You could kick the ball and if you felt it needed a bit of curve, you could give it to it by rolling your finger around the pad.
Rule wise the game seemed a little choosy - and it wasn't just a dodgy referee or me blaming the game for losing. You see -- I wasn't entirely sure if the laws of soccer where being properly adhered to. Admittedly, the rules of the game are somewhat hazy in my mind, due to my almost irrational dislike of the game, but I do recall tackling from behind being a big no-no. And although, again, I'm somewhat fuzzy about it, the off-side rule wasn't, I believed, being enforced. Not that that bothers me of all people.
Still - OnSide Soccer is actually pretty good. You can play a quick game, a league game or knockout league game depending on what you fancy, and there are healthy selection of teams from leagues from around the world. England, Italy, Germany and France.
The other half of Onside Soccer is management element. This wasn't quite so good. You pick a team and then it's your job to manage that team. Organise tactics, buy and sell players, alter the formation, it's all well and good but there isn't enough options in there to make you feel you are having any real influence. The training consists of playing five-a-side soccer, which is like the main game but without throw-ins or corners, and of cause only five players on each side. The other training option is the very boring penalty practice. In addition, you can borrow money, try and fill the stadium but this part of OnSide lacks any real depth and has no pizazz. How do you spell "Pizazz?". Hold on - what does it mean? Anyway - OnSide Soccer, the management half of the game doesn't have any.
Once you've sold your players, bought new ones, messed about or should that be "up" the formation, and then done some of the training you play the match. You can play the game, like you would with a dpad, or you can watch the game or you can simply not prolong the agony and go straight to the scores.
The graphics are pleasant enough, it's very retro in so much the crowd is completely flat and in many respects look like little shapeless blobs of colour. But then, having seen soccer fans, that's probably closer than a modern games console will ever get to truly recreating football fans. Graphically the players are well animated, each has their own little shadow and they come in many different shapes, sizes and colours, as do real players. And the 3D pitch is nice and smooth, it zooms in and out during replays and everything looks great.
The sound however is pretty awful - the worst is the music in the menu's, it's very English Soccer. Which made me wonder if the Italians, French, Spanish and Germans have this kind of stupid regionalized whistle-like tune that reminds them of the sport? If you listen to it with your eyes closed, you can almost see some fat bald headed tattooed hooligan cramming pork pies down his throat and dropping crumbs on his Arsenal football shirt, you can all most smell the Beer drench sweat too. It's very accurate indeed. And indeed, god awful.
Worse still, the in-game commentary is not only repetitive, but also passionless. You might think scoring the equaliser in the final few seconds of a game might get the juices flowing in the commentators voice - but no, he really does put the dead into dead-pan. And there is no crowd noise. Ever. Just the peep of the whistle and the word goal. This does ruin the game a little. Especially on one of those rare occasions I did actually score - I wanted a little reward - and that's exactly what I got. If the crowd and the commentator wasn't thrilled - my little players ran around with their hands raised in jubilance. Which is a small reward compared to the mighty roar of the appreciative crowd I was hoping for. Glory hunter me.
All-in-all OnSide Soccer is a quick and exciting, and only when it is most disappointing, soundless football game. I did like it. It's probably not as good as Fifa but the addition of the lackluster management element makes it an interesting offering none the less.
Games like this are contextual - and perhaps I'm not the best guy to be critiquing it. What do I know? Could Coventry beat Bolton Wanderers in 1994? Did they really have a player called Jonathon Gould? (Yes, they did apparently!) You see, Soccer doesn't interest me, which means this game is probably wasted on me. The main dish of the game is arcade and I liked that, the rest is purely for proper fans of the sport.
It's not rare - you can go to http://www.oldergames.knurdz.com and buy a brand new shrink wrapped edition right now!