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Kick off 3 European challenge logo  AGA

Just how hard should I kick this then?

Publisher: Anco
Authors: Steve Screech
Runs on: A1200
Price: £30
Release: Out now

B Kick off 3 European challenge ack again, eh Mr Off? Some games never learn. You may recall scheming Celt turncoat Steve McGill reviewing the original version of Kick Off 3 in issue 40, complaining that all manner of problems in the game detracted seriously from the amount of fun that could be hand, and roasting the sound and controls in particular before awarding it a respectable-but-flawed 69%.

As with the A500 version of Bubble and Squeak last month, it appears that software publishers have taken note of our criticisms. With Kick Off 3 – European Challenge, Anco have altered the sound so the crowd roar appreciatively when you score instead of reacting with silence. They have added some more control options so that people with a CD32 joypad can enjoy pressing loads of buttons. And on top of all they have even decided to throw in all sorts of new leagues and competitions as well. For as well as playing in England, you can take your team to Germany, Italy, France or Spain. A truly ‘European’ motif, there.

Scheming Celt turncoat Steve liked the ‘pinbally’ feel of the Kick Off series and, while I did like Kick Off 2 when it first appeared in 1990 (or thereabouts), Kick Off 3 loses the sense of accuracy and urgency that you should get when playing a football game. As far as I am concerned, football games are supposed to flow from move to move, leaving you in no doubt that you are in complete control of all the action. When, say, your centre forward plants a cultured volley into the top left hand corner as the result of a beautifully lofted cross from your winger, you have to be sure it was a result of your gaming skills.

With Kick Off 3 (European Challenge or not) you will be lucky if you manage to time a tackle correctly, or even get the ball clear of the defence. In an attempt to master the control of the ball I tried every conceivable mixture of options, using each of the joypads scattered about the AMIGA POWER office in turn and even slowing the game down to novice level and investing much time on the practice screen. It was all to no avail. You cannot apply the right amount of power to a pass, and the time delay between pressing a button and the intended move actually happening is ridiculous. Also, the computer opponents always seem to know exactly what their fellow players are doing and so are all over you within a couple of minutes.

But the worst part about all of this is that although I felt I had almost no control over what was going on and very little chance to change the outcome of the game I still managed to score consistently. In each match I put away at least a couple of goals, and at one point managed an impressive 4-4 draw against Blackburn while playing as Manchester.

So then. This ‘new and improved’ version does indeed take the original version and ‘new and improve’ it, and it is refreshing to see a company responding to criticism, but the real problems with Kick Off 3 go much deeper. It is the game itself that is at fault, and no amount of new options can disguise that.

Amiga Power, Issue 46, February 1995, p.38

"All over you within a couple of minutes”

Upper UPPERS You can now use a CD32 pad, a two-button pad or even a normal joystick. There are dozens of teams to choose from, a chance to play in different countries around Europe, and the sound even works properly this time around. Oh, and there is a lovely rendered-type background for the menu screens.
Downer DOWNERS In fact, everything has been improved but the game itself, which means we are left with an impressively-optioned, silly and uncontrollable, frustrating football game. Oh, and there is a lovely rendered-type background for the menu screens.

It may be ‘new and improved’ in some areas, but not where it counts. And because I think famously generous scheming Celt turncoat Steve McGill overrated it by quite a bit first time around, I am going to knock down the score substantially.



A500 A slightly toned-down version with less colours and less sound is on the way, we are informed.

Kick off 3 European challenge logo  AGA

Price: £29.99   Publisher: Anco   0322 292513

Rik Skews mysteriously finds an envelope stuffed full of Kick Off 3 European Challenge disks in a motorway café and shuffles away for a closer look.

Kick off 3 European challenge I t is hard to believe football games were once something of a rarity, good ones even more so. Released over four years ago now, Anco’s original Kick Off changed that, and proved it was possible to put together a decent footy game which not only bore a resemblance to the real thing, but played well thanks to an intuitive control method.

This was followed by Kick Off 2, and is still reckoned by some to be the definitive footy title, both games created by Dino Dini and Steve Screech. The dream team was split up mid way through last year though, when Dini left for Virgin where he has since created Goal! for the Amiga, and more recently Dino Dini’s Soccer for the consoles, both of which were well received by reviewers and the public alike.

This left Steve Screech to crack on with Kick Off 3 which was originally released four months ago. Taking a gamble, Anco abandoned the revolutionary top-down view in favour of a side-on TV-style horizontally scrolling view. Sadly Kick Off 3 was merely an average title, not living up to the pedigree its predecessors had created. Apart from anything else, one of the main complaints was that the game was unplayable without a two-button joystick, which meant that unless you owned either a Mega Drive or a CD32 controller, the game was no go.

Flaws are gone
Kick Off 3 European Challenge aims to iron out the original flaws and introduce new features. It is now possible to use a standard one button joystick for instance. Most of the menu options are the same though, giving you the option to change everything from in-game tactics to game speed. The choice of game speed is important, as this varies the amount of control you have over the ball, from glue-foot at the slowest speed to almost zero at the fastest. Matches can either be friendlies, part of a league programme or the Euro ’96 qualifying campaign, as opposed to the 1994 World Cup offered byKick Off 3. Many of the greatest world and league teams are represented, but sadly the player’s names are misspelled to avoid legal repercussions. As a football fan, that is something I found rather irritating, though to be fair there is an option to edit the names. It is difficult to fault Kick Off 3 European Challenge’s options as they are amongst the most comprehensive around, in a soccer game or otherwise.

Kick off 3 European challenge Is it any better?
As before though, once in to the actual game, disappointment begins to seep out of the monitor. One of the most obvious changes is the improved audio, but to be honest it still sounds poor. It would seem as though only small samples have been used because the stadium rumble continuously loops, while scoring a goal results in some amusingly high pitched chants that sound more like a car changing gear than a celebratory roar. Graphically it is more polished though, with smoother scrolling backgrounds and improved animation on the players, although they are still not in the same league as FIFA’s devilishly sexy player sprites.

These cosmetic touché ups have made little difference to the gameplay though. Form watching the pre-match kickabout it is clear the players have a wide range of moves available to them. It is a real shame then that the only one that can be pulled off by anything other than complete fluke is a 50 yard punt on goal. Controlling the players is definitely easier with a one button stick than the original joypad option, but then again pulling off the move you want is too difficult. And this is Kick Off 3 European Challenge’s main failing. Control is the most important factor in a soccer game, and this one has too little of it. It still feels sluggish and unresponsive, even when the fastest speed is selected.

Kick Off 3 European Challenge is not a bad game, just average and with the likes of Sensible World Of Soccer around it hardly warrants purchase.
It is a shame really, because there is the makings of a good football game here, and compared to the similar looking FIFA Soccer I felt more in control of the proceedings. Perhaps a Kick Off 4 will manage to blend more successfully the realistic perspective that this game offers and combine it with the classic gameplay of its top-down predecessors.

CU Amiga, February 1995, p.56










workbench version: 3

number of disks: 3

RAM: 2 Mb

hard disk installable: No









If only it played and sounded as good as it looks.