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Kick off 3 AGA logo  AGA

Anco are out to prove that they don't need Dino Dini to create a good arcade soccer game. Tony Dillon squeezes into his old school shorts.

K Kick off 3 AGA ick Off - the game that started it all. Up until the release of that most classic of football games, people were happy to kick the ball in a single style in eight directions and call that soccer. When Dino's first product hit the shelves, the reviewers hated it and the public loved it. The amount of control over the ball you were offered had never been seen before, and the unique 'top down' view which gave you a far better view of the action were all the trademarks of this game and all the clones which followed in the years after. Kick Off 2 appeared, and the world went ga-ga. Then Dino left the Anco stable and created Goal! for Virgin, which to all intents and purposes was recognised by the public as Kick Off 3, and Anco were really left by the wayside.

Until now. Finally, after literally months of hype and guesswork, Kick Off 3 itself is finally available, and I can honestly tell you that a lot of people are going to be very, very surprised. Gone is the top view. Gone is the scanner. Gone are the extremely fiddly ball handling controls, and in comes a game that is far more traditional in terms of soccer gameplay than the previous two Kick Off games.

From the outside in, the first thing you are confronted with is the choice of games to play. You can either work through the standard friendly or league matches, or take part in The Challenge where you go against 30 other teams, one by one, until you reach the Anco All Stars at the end of the game. Plus, just to be a little topical, you can take part in the World Cup, from the qualifying rounds onward, Once you have worked through the various menus, where you can lay out your tactics, decide which team you are going to be, which of the three speed levels you're going to play the game on, which of the three game levels you are going to play with (the easier levels make it much easier to control the ball, and in the hardest level you are really going to have a problem when it comes to kicking the ball straight), you can actually get into the game itself, and this is where most people are going to be really, really surprised.

Kick off 3 AGA As you can see from the screenshots, the game is viewed in the classic 'side-on' view a view that was previously dropped, if you can remember that far back, because it didn't give the player enough information about where their players actually were on the pitch. A step backwards perhaps? Maybe, but then if the game was viewed from the top you wouldn't have the stylish animation this game possesses. Although the view might be dated, the game looks great, with large, well-drawn players and animations for every occasion. My favourite has to be the point when a player gets a yellow card and then stands with their arms away from their sides, shaking heads incredulously.

The question is, of course, how does it all play? The answer, I'm afraid to say, isn't a positive one. The practice mode, where you can perform exercises to improve your playing skills is a great idea, as it makes the game that little bit easier to get into, but at the end of the day the controls are just too sluggish and the actual movement of the players too slow to make the game really playable.

I really wanted to like this, as I'm a big fan of the first two, but it really just doesn't come up to scratch. It looks great, sure, but it just doesn't have the responsiveness needed for a really frantic soccer game.
The key to the first two games were the fact that they were incredibly smooth and responsive you really felt like the players were under your control. With Kick Off 3, you seem to spend most of your time fighting the controls rather than flowing with them, and that just takes all the fun out of it.

CU Amiga, August 1994, p.76

TWO BUTTONS ARE BETTER THAN ONE
P ossibly the most unusual thing about Kick Off 3 is that it requires a joystick with two or more independent fire buttons or a four button console joypad to play. Instead of having to learn various twists and patterns with the joystick to perform moves like bicycle kicks and banana shots, you need to use separate buttons at different times. Although this makes the game more playable in the long run, if you don't have a dual-button joystick, you're stuffed. Oddly enough, there is no support at all for single button joysticks!

ANCO 25.99
A500
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A500+
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A1200
A4000
ANCO, 7 MILLSIDE INDUSTRIAL ESTATE, LAWSON ROAD, DARTFORD, KENT A1 5BH. TEL: 0322 292513/8
 
RELEASE DATE:
GENRE:
TEAM:
CONTROLS:
NUMBER OF DISKS:
NUMBER OF PLAYERS:
HARD DISK INSTALLABLE:
MEMORY:
 
OUT NOW
SOCCER
STEVE SCREECH
JOYPAD
2
4
NO
1Mb

 
GRAPHICS
SOUND
LASTABILITY
PLAYABILITY

87%
62%
71%
70%
Looks good but is let down somewhat by sluggish controls.
OVERALL: 68%