If there’s one thing the English are good at is inventing a sport, spreading it around the globe and then promptly getting beat at it. Cricket is a prime example, although England’s recent fortunes at the stumps are a mix of great success or catastrophic failure. Released in 1993, Audiogenic brought Graham Gooch World Class Cricket to the Commodore Amiga, setting the blueprint for cricket games to come.
Booting this up, we’re greeted by a digitized version of our portly cover star in action before being greeted with an abundance of options in the menu screen.
The expected single and two player modes are accompanied by a Computer vs. Computer match, for the boring among you, as well as difficulty and sound settings and the ability to customize your team. The real meat is in the match settings, tempting you to tamper like an Aussie cricket captain – sandpaper not included. Matches can also be created that would probably last as long as the real Test format or Chris Lewis’ prison sentence, whichever takes the least amount of time.
There are nine international teams, and a World XI, with accurate rosters for the time period to take your pick from. The player also has complete control over first team selection, but can pick the best 11 for those wanting to jump straight in. All-in-all, the UI is presentable and intuitive.
Stepping up to the crease, the traditional coin toss gets us underway and the Lords pavilion visible in the distance is a nice touch. The graphics are vibrant and well-drawn as the camera pans down to start the match, giving a nice sense of polish.
Player models are limited and the animation cycles from this perspective are convincing if slightly basic. Knocking the ball into the outfield snaps the camera to a birds-eye view, which in turn, results in some less than smooth running animations from fielders and batsman alike as they scamper around. The scaling of some objects could be called into question although this is a minor niggle.
Adding an air of authenticity are touches such as an insert of the umpires signalling a four or giving you the finger to send you back to the pavilion. These really up the production value and sense of realism. The in-game UI, scorecards and statistics mimic the pre-game menu system and with everything being presented, it never feels like it encroaches on the play space.
Audiogenic’s delivery is precise, with large sprites and a good use of framing that puts graphical strengths and weaknesses fully on display. It’s certainly not perfect but cricket fans will appreciate some of the little touches.
The sound of leather on willow. Some say you can’t beat it and for those cricket audiophiles, you’ll be pleased to know it’s been faithfully recreated here, albeit only the one sample. Audio work is generally quite sparse but what is present is of high quality. Player shouts for wickets are particularly enthusiastic as is the crowd noise for hitting boundaries. Unfortunately, there are no ambient sounds such as a crowd murmurs during general play making it feel as sparse as a Division Two county match. Either that or everyone’s fallen asleep.
There’s not much in way of music work either but the Caribbean inspired tune present in the menu, and repeated for in game interludes, is thematically on point and fades nicely into the background as you review your scorecard with concern.
While the graphical and audio packages are not without their flaws, they do display an obvious love and affection for the sport, which carries over into the gameplay. The mechanics are kept simple meaning those who aren’t huge cricket fans won’t have to worry about some of the more technical aspects such as no balls.
When playing as the bowling side, the pitch of the ball is decided by moving the momentum heavy cursor around and pressing the fire button to select. Some furious joystick action follows in order to attain speed, spin or swing depending on the type of bowling attack selected, but there’s no ability to bowl a beamer.
Bowlers and field positions can be swapped at will, adding some strategy into the mix. For example, if your spinner is failing to get enough turn, then you can bring in the moustached maestro himself for some old school slow swing. Fielding is done automatically and is relatively consistent, but prone to the odd overthrow or ill-timed dive.
Batting is carried out by timing a direction on the joystick to the pitch of the ball and feels weighty and fair. Smacking Shane Warne through the offside, leg side or straight down the ground is immensely satisfying. There is agency to move along the crease but no ability to come down the ground. Running between the stumps requires some more joystick waggling with depressing the fire button reversing the direction for a hasty retreat.
The AI provides a stern challenge with your middle order often collapsing quicker than a deck chair but the two-player mode really is the winner with any sports game. Gentle sledging of the player next to you greatly intensifies the action, providing some heated moments on and off-screen.
The game didn’t hit everyone in the Amiga press for six. Quite a few were overwhelmingly positive with only a couple of outlets not warming to its charms. If you don’t like cricket, Audiogenic’s interpretation of the game won’t make you love it, but you’ll certainly be hard-pressed not to have some degree of fun with a friend.
Step up to the crease and watch the full video review with added trivia about the game
Graham Gooch World Class Cricket is a bit of rare beast in that it takes a sport incomprehensible to a lot of people and makes it accessible, while still pleasing its target market. Audiogenic may have refined and added to their formula over the years but this Amiga iteration is more than solid.