Regardless of my Portuguese nationality, I love football (soccer to ya, bloody Yankees!) And of course, I was over-enjoyed when Portugal won the European Cup last year!
I also like football videogames (although I do struggle with modern titles) and my introduction to the genre was with a Spanish football computer game, Emilio Butragueño ¡Fútbol!
Emilio Butragueño ¡Fútbol! (also known as Buitre, like the player) was developed by Topo Soft (well, kind of. I’ll explain later) and published by Erbe Software (in Spain) and by Ocean (outside of Spain). It was originally released in 1987 for Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum and DOS. It was re-released a year later for Commodore 64 and MSX.
But perhaps more interesting than the game itself, it’s the story of its development: both Topo Soft and Dinamic (another Spanish developer) were after Real Madrid football player Emilio Butragueño, to license his name for a football computer game. Dinamic apparently had a verbal agreement with Butragueño for 1 million pesetas (Spain’s former currency, which equals roughly to 6010 Euros), but Topo Soft with the help of their distributor, Erbe, managed to sway Butragueño away with 10 million pesetas (around 60100 Euros)!
But the story doesn’t end there. Three of Topo Soft’s main designers were unsatisfied with the company, so they form a new company called Animagic and did an unofficial port of Tehkan World Cup outside of Topo Soft’s working schedule (so it wouldn’t get claimed by Topo Soft) and sold it back to Topo Soft under Animagic’s brand. That’s why Animagic’s name appears in the Amstrad CPC’s version. But all other versions were ported by Topo Soft itself.
But let’s get back to the game, starting with the cover:
As you can see, that’s Emilio Butragueño himself in the corner and in the main image using a red kit. And you must be asking: “if Butragueño played in Real Madrid, why isn’t he wearing its traditional white kit?” Well, apparently Topo Soft decided to use an alternative kit as not to alienate non-Real Madrid fans, but I bet it was so that Topo Soft wouldn’t be forced to pay royalties to Real Madrid. And that’s not the Spanish National Team’s kit either (they traditionally use blue shorts).
But enough talk and let’s boot this sucker, shall we?
As you can see, the game starts with a very bad rendition of the box cover, without any title whatsoever, just the company’s logo. And then we get to the main menu in Spanish. Fortunately, this is basically the only Spanish you’ll ever find in the game, so non-Spanish speaking players can still enjoy it.
In the main menu screen, you can choose between a single or 2 players match, the duration of the match between 10, 20 or 30 minutes and the difficulty level between 2 options. You can’t choose which team to control, with player 1 always controlling the white team and player 2 or the CPU controlling the red team. In the other ports, the players could choose between both teams.
And then you start the match and although you can’t see the teams’ names, it’s safe to assume that the white team is supposed to be Real Madrid but I have no idea who the red team is supposed to be. One could say it’s Real Madrid’s main rivals, Barcelona FC, but their jerseys are red AND blue. Was there a Spanish team using a full red kit back then? Anyway, just imagine a football team with traditional red kits, like Liverpool FC or something.
Because it’s a sports game, I highly recommend the use of a gamepad or a joystick over the keyboard. The controls feel somewhat stiff and because you can only control a player at a time, it’s easy to get confused about which player you’re controlling, even with the flashing prompts. Also, there’s only 1 button for shooting and that’s what you’ll end up doing while in possession of the ball since you can only shoot the ball high and nothing else.
While not in possession of the ball, you can tackle other players for it, but be careful not to commit fouls (as you know, 2 yellow cards or one red card equals expulsion). Also apparently the match ends if any of the teams score 10 goals, but I haven’t seen it so far.
The CGA graphics leave a lot to be desired in comparison with the other versions (even the ZX Spectrum version with fewer colours looks better), but the animations aren’t that bad. The bottom part of the screen with the score, time and the overhead football pitch serve their purpose, but they could have been a bit smaller to make the main view bigger. The sprites also serve their purpose, despite the game using an overhead perspective. And apart from the average sound effects, there’s no music whatsoever. Not even a title theme!
With the lack of choice between teams and just 2 difficulty levels, there isn’t a lot of replay value. It’s good for a quick match with a friend without the hassle of going between several options and menus, but very little else.
However, because the game had the name of a very famous football player at the time, apparently it sold more than 100.000 copies, which encouraged Topo Soft to develop a sequel in 1989, which was only released for Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum and MSX, so we won’t be reviewing it here.
I don’t recommend this game mainly because it was quickly overshadowed by a true classic of the genre, Kick-Off, from which all other football games built upon afterwards. But that’s a review for another day. But don’t take my word for it. Here, try it in your own browser.
So, did you enjoy the review and/or the game? Like and leave your comments below and tell me what your favourite football games are. Next time, we’ll go under the sea. Till then, keep on playing (football and otherwise).