Ooh! The Ashes are here! The Ashes are here! and they’re going on…RIGHT NOW. To celebrate, lets have a look at the cricket output of unarguably the best cricket game developer of all time, Brian Lara Cricket creators Audiogenic.
Graham Gooch’s Test Cricket
Released in 1985, this is not only one of the earliest cricket games, but as the earliest Audiogenic titles, it’s also one of the most important. Oh, it’s also one of the most rubbish too.
Looking back at it today, Graham Gooch’s Test Cricket has a surprisingly limited feature set, even for a humble mid-80s speccy title. Not only is there just one venue, but there is no real choice over teams. Every match has you play as either England or Australia.
Weirdly, the action and strategy elements of the game are divided into two separate game modes: ‘Arcade’ and ‘Simulation’ As you’d probably expect from the name, ‘arcade mode’ gives you complete control of the shot-making and ball-bowling on the field and is basically the main meat and potatoes of the game.
Consequently, then, you would expect that ‘Simulation’ would be more of a management/captaincy game, covering bowling strategies, field placings, batting decelerations and the like. No! It turns out that Graham Gooch has none of these sorts of options at all. When bowling, you can’t even switch between different sides of the wicket. Egad!
So what can you do in ‘simulation’ mode then? Well, not much. Effectively, the computer plays the game and you tell the computer how offensively/defensively he should be playing. That’s it. It’s not a cricket simulator, it’s a ‘go round to a friends’ house after school and wait for hours as he ‘shows you how to play’ his new game’ simulator. I.E. No fun at all.
Still, at least there’s arcade mode, right? Well yes, but even that is surprisingly limited. Anyone who is expected an open, fluid simulation where the player can carefully aim a delivery or shuffle in the crease to set up the perfect batting stroke is in for disappointment.
Much like in simulation mode, the game largely plays itself: when batting, you only really seem to be in full control of the shot timing and when bowling your only choice is whether the bowler will bowl the delivery on the off or leg side. By fiercely tapping left and right you can encourage thew bowler to bowl a ‘better’ delivery, but you have no control over what that ‘better’ delivery is.
Either way, it’s fair to say that Graham Gooch cricket isn’t really very good. Though Crash were charitable and hailed the game’s realistic aspects, Your Sinclair’s 3/10 is perhaps a better reflection on the quality of the game.
That’s not to say it was all bad, though. Though it plays like a dog and has the sort of graphics and sound are at the level you’d expect from an early Speccy title (the players aren’t far off stick men,) there are lots of really nice touches here. The batsman taps his bat on the ground while waiting for the next delivery, for example, while the close fielders crouching threateningly as the bowler charges in. It’s clear from Graham Gooch that Audiogenic knew there cricket, and clearly wanted to make their game as aesthetically close to the sport as they possibly could. If you think of Grhaham Gooch as a cricket equivalent of Little Computer People, it isn’t half bad.