ALTHOUGH THE SERIES of games called Emlyn Hughes International Soccer came to an end with the Amiga and Atari releases, the project itself did not. While we personally consider the related soccer games that followed only vaguely connected to the EHIS brand, it is still a fact that those games were perhaps more like rewrites of Emlyn Hughes than totally new games in themselves. This page offers you a general overview of the titles in question.
IF THERE HAS EVER been a highly original title that perfectly captures the essence of the game that carries it and immediately sets it apart from all the other similar games, European Champions is not that title. Not to be confused with the 1986 Amstrad CPC game or the 1990 release for Commodore and Spectrum that all share the same title, and neither to be mixed up with the various football games with similar but not identical names (European Championship, European Football Champs, Sensible Soccer: European Champions, to list a few), the European Champions of 1993 was published for Amiga, Atari and the PC by Ocean Software Ltd.
What makes this particular European Champions interesting to all the Emlyn Hughes International Soccer lovers out there is the fact that, although published by Ocean, it was designed and programmed by none other than Graham Blighe himself for Audiogenic Software Ltd. And not only Blighe was part of the team, but the game was once again also produced by Peter Calver. Indeed, in many ways European Champions is simply a continuation of EHIS under a different title.
In order to give you a general idea of what the game is like, consider it as something that would happen if Emlyn Hughes International Soccer and Sensible Soccer (or Kick Off 2, or Goal!) mated and had a child. Stranger things have been known to happen, and as weird and slightly repelling as it may sound, if you manage to put aside all the questions about the technical details of how that could actually ever happen, you should now have a rather good picture in your head of what the game feels like. On the one hand, there is much of EHIS in there. The user interface has that familiar feel, as a lot of options including "Practice Mode", "Equal Sills" and "View computer" are straight from Emlyn. Simialrly, the sounds heard during a match are basically the sound world of Emlyn Hughes International Soccer with a little bit of more spice. Yet, on the other hand, the game adds and changes much of what was taken for granted in EHIS. Just like in Sensible Soccer, there are now wind conditions, different pitch types, three kinds of referees, an option to watch Replays of the action, and a thousand other small things that make you think of Sensible Soccer.
The most obvious indication of a merge between EHIS and Sensi, however, is the possibility to change the game view mode between Sensi's bird's eye perspective and the more EHIS-like side view. That the former (and in our opinion less playable) option is the default view shows that, in the end, European Champions really desires to be Sensible Soccer more than it wishes to be Emlyn Hughes International Soccer. In a sense, you actually get the feeling that it tries to stand having one leg on an area that could be seen as the first generation of computer football games (very roughly speaking those with a side view), while the other leg is firmly planted on the realm of the second generation soccer titles (those with a bird's eye view).
Unfortunately, just like with Sensible Soccer 98 that tried to do the same with second and third (3D graphics) generation computer football games, European Champions ultimately fails to be either a proper side-view game or a good bird's eye one. And it is not just the question of "favouring" Sensible Soccer that makes us not like European Champions that much. (In fact, most of us here at ehis64.net are actually big fans of Sensi.) No, it really has got to do with more fundamental aspects of the game than that.
In short, it does not really have that feel of football in it. Much of Blighe's efforts and energy has clearly gone into making the A.I. better, creating a system that makes passing easier, and coming up with a way of shooting that anyone can learn easily. And, paradoxically, these are exactly the reasons why European Champions just doesn't work for someone as fond of Emlyn Hughes International Soccer as we are. Just like in the later FIFA series, passing and shooting in European Champions is unreleastic, and far too easy to pull off properly. Meanwhile, the ball itself stays in the air quite a lot, on the one hand making games look spectacular with all the headers and high kicks, but at the same time really resembling volley ball more than football. Finally, the area of the field that is displayed is far too small, making it rather difficult to get any overall picture of the proceedings.
However, European Champions is not entirely without merits. Despite its ease of use, it is still quite challenging, and one must say that the graphics do look nice. The game also includes an extensive league and cup creation system, so anyone enjoying arcade soccer à la FIFA will surely find hours and hours of fun with the game. We, however, unfortunately did not.
That said, we do recommend that you try European Champions, especially if you like Emlyn Hughes International Soccer. You can find it at our downloads section.
IN 1994 OCEAN released Lothar Mätthaeus, which was "based on the original design by Graham Blighe". This game is not to be confused with Krisalis Software's Lotthar Mätthaeus Super Soccer. Basically, Ocean's game is simply European Champions repacked and rereleased under a new title and a new loading picture. The target seems to have been the German market.
You can find Lothar Mätthaeus from our downloads section.
1994 ALSO SAW the release of Wembley International Soccer, which is a slightly more advanced version of European Champions released to capitalise with the World Cup that was held in the USA that summer. The game play is the same as with European Champions and Lothar Mätthaeus, and consequently also suffers from the same shortcomings. The graphics in Wembley International Soccer, however, are even better than in the previous two releases. The game also includes more options and settings, and in the spirit of the World Cup has international teams instead of the club football of European Champions and Lothar Mätthaeus.
Wembley International Soccer is available from our downloads section.