KICK OFF (Video Game) Review

Remember the original Amiga Kick Off? Despite being very scrappy looking, it earned itself a hoard of devoted fans, back in the heady days of 1988. We’ve been waiting for a decent sequel ever since…

It’s at about this stage – when you’ve got four or so players on screen – that Kick Off starts to have problems. Have another guy run on there and the slow down will get very noticeable indeed. Playing the game in ‘normal’ (ie high speed) mode is a big no-no too, at least for us. The ball is all but uncontrollable, and things get very frustrating indeed. Slow the game down however, and it gets a lot more playable. Still a bit stupid, but playable.

Penalties are great. The keeper stands four feet off his line, and when the ball goes in the Super NES takes three seconds to notice before it makes the crowd cheer the goal, with a brilliant sample that hilariously cuts dead after two seconds.

Part of the game’s admirably compre-hensive, but dreadfully confusing, options screen set up. There must be a million better ways to organise this, you’d think.

This is a tricky one. As Kick Off is such a celebrated home computer game, most people in this country have already decided whether they love it (reasons: high speed, computer control of the really tricky stuff allowing for great head-to-head action) or hate it (reasons: high speed, lack of control, flunky gameplay) already.
Certainly, lots of people have been waiting for its first ‘real’ appearance on the SNES with great interest (Imagineer’s less-than-brilliant Pro Soccer was actually a first stab at SNES Kick Off in all but name).

So was if worth the wait? Well, first off, there are a lot of things wrong with it. The ball sometimes goes too fast for the scrolling to keep up, for instance, disappearing off the edge of the screen. All your substitutes – of which there are and infinite number – have the number ’12’, meaning there can be up to four 12s on the pitch at once. The game tends to lock up when more than four players are on screen at once. The game tends to lock up when more than four players are on screen at once. The useless scanner and close-up view of the action mean you can rarely tell where you are in relation to the goal. The goalkeepers themselves are too good. It’s too fast to be controllable. And so on. Perhaps worst of all is the painful inability of the joypad to cope with the sort of high speed 360degree turns that have always been a major part of Kick Off. You’ll definitely need a joystick to get the best out of this.

However, when all’s said and done, this can be fun. First you’ll hove to fight your way through the ridiculous option screens to turn the speed down – essential if you want to be able to control the thing. Then you’ll have to get yourself a joystick (as I said), and last you’ll have to fing a mate to play against. In this form you’ll find yourself laughing and cursing the inadequacies of the game constantly, but having a great laugh all the same. Just like you did playing Amiga Kick Off, in fact.

VERDICT: Ridiculously flawed, badly programmed but nevertheless reasonably enjoyable (in two-player mode) Soccer game. Should be so much better though.


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