Version tested: Retro
This is where it all began. Before football management titles included realistic breakfast preferences for every player (Riquelme likes toast and an egg, or he won't train), there was Kevin Toms' lovingly crafted BASIC program. Three positions (defence, midfield, attack), two stats (skill, energy) and not a great deal else.
Any team from the 1982 Football League can be selected, but you'll end up with exactly the same squad of misfits and be unceremoniously plonked in Division Four, regardless of your shirt colour. Your task is, of course, to ascend the league and capture the FA Cup. There's a simplistic transfer market (one player can be bought after every fixture, which means changing your squad is painfully slow) and seven skill levels. That's your lot.
The main challenge is juggling the squad before each fixture to ensure they at least equal the opponent in every area of the field, and occasionally resting players to allow them to recover. In this early incarnation, fixtures are represented by crude stick-figure highlights which show a flurry of attacks from the game. While watching these, it's important to yell "SHOOT, SHOOOOOT!" at your bumbling striker as he languidly dallies with the ball. Then it's back to the main menu to start the whole process again.
Though crucial to the football videogame timeline, it's difficult to recommend this title for much beyond historical study. Admittedly it can be relief to play a management game which doesn't force you into clicking on a desk tidy to set up the hoovering schedule for your club's cleaning staff, and moaning at the ineptitude of the stick-figure players is entertaining for a while, but that's where interest begins to wane. Three points for kicking off the genre, but the march of time has sadly doomed this veteran squad to relegation.
3 / 10