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Team sports are all more or less the same: two opposing teams on some field trying to score more than the other. The method of scoring might differ a bit, but that's it. Relatively innovative computer sports games like for example Speedball started their changes at the same aspect: the way of scoring. Just looking at this, Projectyle goes the most conservative of all possible ways: 'players' have to 'shoot' a 'ball' into a 'goal'.

One of the Amiga's crop of 'Future Sport' games - but there's no metallic graphics to be seen!! What's going on? The 'plot' such as it is, is this. A svengali, named Uncle M.Troid, spots some kids playing a fast and furious game on the streets of Jupiter's second moon. He exploits the game's concept and before any of the kids can utter the sentence 'what about our artistic rights and cut of the franchise?' he has developed a media extravaganza sport called 'Tribal'.

Tribal is a bit of a weird game, played with three teams (or 'Tribes' to give them their proper name) across five pitches, which are arranged in the shape of a cross with exits/entrances connecting them. Each Tribe has a pitch containing their goalmouth (their 'Defence Zone'), two 'Attack Zones' (which are the 2 other Tribes' Defence Zones) and there is also another pitch (the 'Frantic Zone') which has three goalmouths, one per Tribe. The fifth pitch is, of course, the 'Central Zone' and simply contains exits to the other four. The home Tribe starts off defending the top pitch and their 'Defence' and 'Attack' Zones rotate clockwise after each of the three 'halves' of the game (excepting the bottom pitch, which is always the Frantic Zone); this way everyone gets a chance to attack and defend each pitch. So far, so wacky. Luckily the object of the game is straightforward and familiar enough - score more goals than the other two Tribes by putting the 'projectyle' of the title into their goalmouths!

The Tribes are, of course, wildly named - The Vectors, The Eldritch Cats and probably best of all, The Jovian Jello Juggernauts, to name just a few. Each has five players, one per pitch; no player may stray from his allotted pitch which again makes the game unusual - there's no-one to pass to or help out! The players are not in human shape but rather in the shape of discs, coloured and designed according to their Tribe. Apparently the players have 'evolved' into this state to better enable them to play Tribal (did I mention you needed to suspend any disbelief you had, in order to play this game?)

Naturally, since the players are disc shaped and the projectyle itself is disc shaped, accurate shooting is rather tricky and often all you can do is crash into the projectyle and hope it will ricochet off you in the direction you want it to go. Trust me, it doesn't seem to happen often and I usually have to herd the projectyle right into the goalmouth.

The action is frantic enough as the projectyle pings between the five pitches and there are plenty of the usual sorts of bonus items to pick up on the pitch: Extra stamina, cash, power and sliding boosts. Plus there's some jollier ones that will freeze your opponents, seal the pitch exits or teleport the projectyle to the Frantic Zone. Of course, you can spend the cash you've picked up on enhancing your team's strengths after each 'half'. You can take part in league or knock-out competitions and there is also an option for three human players to take each other on.

The in-game tunes are quite hummable but the graphics are merely servicable, even by 1990 standards. I mean they're colourful and hardly ZX81-like but definitely nothing to shout about. At least the graphics change though, as you tour the other Tribal, er, tribe's grounds.

Projectyle is definitely a sports game although one cheat site I read defines it as a 'puzzle game'! That might not be a bad description really as it can be a rather frustrating game. There is too much of an element of luck in controlling the projectyle, although I'm sure there are Zen Master Projectyle players out there who have no problems. 'Interesting and original but flawed' would probably be my assessment. It would have been interesting to see what the Eldritch the Cat development team would have come up with next but I think they split quite soon after this unfortunately.

The game puts its innovation into something else. Instead of the usual rectangular field for two opposing teams, there are three teams at once fighting against each other on five different zones! Three teams? Five zones? It all makes sense when combined. Each team has a 'defense zone' in which its own goal is located. The fourth zone is some kind of 'chaos zone' with three goals - one of each team. They're all connected via a 'neutral zone' with no goals, but only gates to the other zones.

Each team has one player in each zone. These players can't move through the portals connecting the zones, only the ball can. So it is always a fair struggle between three competitors which can never quite work together, but sometimes have common goals. The neutral zone is mostly dominated by slightly defensive play to ensure the ball doesn't get into one's own defense zone. In a defense zone, there are two offensive players trying to score against one defender. Since only the team whose player touches the ball last before it's in the goal is awarded with a point, the defensive team has one advantage: the two opponents fight amongst each other mainly. The chaos zone (name by me) is exactly what the name implies: everyone tries to hit one of the goals, completely disregarding the defense of one's own.

To keep the game fast and open, it is not possible to carry the ball in any way. The players can only hit it so that it flies into the desired direction - but it can always be stopped by another team. Talking about the players and the ball, the teams consist of really strange creatures. The title screen implies they're just standing on floating discs, but maybe they're also all robots of completely different kinds. The ball is always presented in the graphical style of the home team (just like the whole arena, they all differ a lot), ranging from bubbles to metalic discs. As much as the presentation differs, each game plays identical.

That is more or less it. If you want to, you can also buy, sell and train players in league mode. That is really only secondary though. It is the tactical component through the addition of a third team and the clever construction of the field enhances the fun easily above the level of any 'realistic' sports game! Only that producing such a game requires imagination and not only an expensive license...

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