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Saturday, 4 December 2010

Advent Calendar - December 4th.

4th & Inches (Commodore 64)

Accolade went through a little spell in the Eighties where they brought us Britishers a real taste of Americana on the Commodore 64. I've already written about a couple of them... Law of the West and HardBall! I like to consider the games a trilogy, and the third is the game I've played today, 4th & Inches.


You just don't get names like that in English sport. Mack Truck? Fantastic.

I used to quite like American Football in the Eighties, courtesy of Channel 4's coverage. I didn't understand it (originally I didn't even know what this game's title meant!), but it almost felt like it was a game from another planet. Of course, any liking of American Football was knocked out of me by five years of living in Detroit... there has never been a suckier team than the Detroit Lions.

So the first time I loaded up 4th & Inches back then I was instantly taken with it. There were all these weird sounding plays and moves... Shotgun? Streak? No idea what they meant, but they seemed to work so I did them all the time. I really enjoyed the game, especially when playing against another human. It's a long, long time since I played 4th & Inches... I thought the time was right for a revisit.


See what I mean? I thought a Double Wing was something new at KFC.

The game is structured in a similar fashion to HardBall!. You've got a choice of two teams, which effectively comes down to your favourite colour between red and blue. Before you actually try and score any points, both sides have a choice of plays, chosen by the respective positions on the joystick. Your human opponent won't know what you've picked, adding an authentic air to proceedings. Once all the options have been run through, the action starts. The ball is snapped to your Quarterback, and you have to try and successfully run the play you've selected, or effectively stop your opponent if you're on defense.


Go on, son! GET IIIIIINNNNNNN!

I'm not going to run through the rules of American Football here... partly because it would be boring and partly because I don't know them myself. I'm not writing about American Football, anyway. 4th & Inches is an incredibly limited game by today's standards, but it was fun then and it's still fun for a game or two now, as long as you're not expecting any amount of depth from it. Because, depending on whether you've chosen to run or pass, the game becomes either a giant pile-on or a Benny Hill sketch, with the entire opposition team charging after your running back. In fact, it reminds me a little bit of Monty Python's Masters vs. Boys rugby match.


Inevitably, the tide has turned. That'll be that, then.

I was never that great at the game, and so it proved again whilst playing this... after a good start that saw me taking the lead, I never scored again and received a sound thrashing. I still enjoyed it though... the graphics have a charm all of their own, the incidental music from Ed Bogas (look him up... I had no idea back then that he'd done so much musically) that contributed so much to the atmosphere of all the classic Accolade games is still lovely today and there's quite a bit of tension as the clock ticks down and you're pressing for another score. 4th & Inches might not be a match for the Madden games of today, but back then it was all we had and it served us very well indeed.

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