Yes, it's finally here. Stop worrying, settle down, make yourself a brew, perhaps treat yourself to a choccie biccy or two and read on. Let me cast your mind back by more than a few years and remember the game that was Kick Off.
Kick Off was a revolutionary product, and every man and his pet whippet loved it. I remember that fateful day when I first played it. There I was - and as I recall it was a Wednesday morning - and unfortunately I was bed-
I had mail ordered Kick Off and as if by magic the postie arrived that fateful morn and guess what popped through the letter-box? Yep, all thoughts of flu rapidly disappeared as I slapped the disk in the drive. Not only had I got the day off school, the world's greatest football game had just landed in my sweaty palms. My luckiest day ever? Yes indeedy.
As for the game, it was quite simply one of the best I had ever played. You can look back now and it's a different kettle of fish altogether: the graphics aren't good and these days even Jimmy Hill could beat the computer 10-0. It had arrived, though, and back then I was the envy of all my friends.
A year or so passed and things were beginning to hot up on the Kick Off front because news had filtered through to every kid's grubby ears, including mine, that a sequel was forthcoming. The sequel did arrive, and to much critical acclaim from the computer game press who heralded it as the best football game for any computer ever.
I naturally ran down to the shops and bought it as soon as it was out and found out that was indeed ten times better than the original. Happy faces all round, but happiest of all was Dino Dini's, the creator of Kick Off 1 & 2. Another year had passed and talk of yet another Kick Off game was surfacing - Kick Off 3.
Everybody who thought Kick Off 2 was the best it could possibly be had to have a re-think. In the meantime people had enjoyed the Kick Off spin-offs such as Player Manager, Kick Off Extra Time, Final Whistle and the super abundance of data disks.
Then just as the rumour of Kick Off 3 was on the verge of being realised, a new,m young and pushy football game has forced its way onto the scene. Its name was Sensible Soccer, and that, my friends, is where all the trouble started.
What is now known as the Sensi v Kick Off war erupted and it was so bad that even Kate Adie was reporting from the war zone. There were many casualties, some of which are still too disturbing to talk about. There were the Kick Off die-hards camped on one side while the Sensible Soccer young bloods were assembling on the other. In the middle were several youngsters who were just plain confused and didn't know which game to turn to thanks to misinformed friends and hapless game reviewers.
I myself loved both Sensible and Kick Off and I just couldn't choose between the two no matter how I tried. Other people condemned me instantly and said that I must choose one of them and declare it the best.
Why? Why must I choose between them? Well the simple fact is that I didn't choose. They are both different and they each have their merits and downfalls. There you have it... the truth.
I don't want to see any kind of argument over which one is best ever again. If you really want to keep me happy then I suggest you buy both of them and hey, you never know, it might bring the world that step closer to global peace.
Rumours were confirmed that Kick Off 3 was indeed arriving. And we waited, and waited and then waited some more until we could wait no longer. Virgin games must have got a bit bored waiting as well, so they decided to buy it off the original company and give it the new moniker of Goal.
On the surface Goal, for all intents and purposes, looks identical to its Kick Off predecessors. Let's take a little look under that surface and see what new features we can dig up.
First thing you notice is the graphics and the fact that there are three different modes. There is the normal zoomed in view and also a wider zoomed out vie, plus the standard setting where the computer swaps between the two views. Zoomed in view is the one you will use the most and the closed to the one used in Kick Off 2.
An interesting feature is the ability to play Goal horizontally rather than vertically. This virtually creates a brand new football game for us Kick Off die-hards and it takes a bit of getting used to.
Goal's graphics are noticeably better with improved animated players that are positioned in a well-drawn football stadium complete with athletic running track and Adidas sponsorship boards. The goals are also better defined and you get a more realistic feeling of scoring.
The free kicks, corners, goal kicks and throw-ins have also been changed for the better. By moving a dotted line you are able to select the direction, length and height of the ball.
The control system as a while seems to have changed slightly, but it still keeps the simplicity and playability that was a feature of Kick Off 2. Obviously, it helps to have played its predecessors, but even for the beginner Goal is one of those footy games that takes a minute to play, but a lot longer to master.
Now I could be accused for being really crap, but when you put the computer at the hardest level it's bloody hard to beat it. Four people played the game and all failed miserably, so that means it should also give you a bit of a challenge over the months ahead. Unless of course you are all God-like computer games-
Replays have also been given a new look with the ability to play, stop, rewind and fast-
You can look at it and it'll tell you how many shots on goal you had, how many saves you made, the number of corners, throw-ins, penalties and how much percentage possession you had. It's very useful for solving those depressing arguments that constantly rage when playing it with a chum or indeed a chum-ess.
There are a few more options, but I haven't simply got the space to explain them all. You'll be able to find out all about them when you buy it, because believe you me if you don't you'll be laughed at in the street by small children.
Goal is similar to Kick Off in many ways, yet totally different in others. For instance you do feel as if you're playing a brand new and totally original game, but it still has that feel of Kick Off about it.
The new graphics are a definite improvement over its predecessors and the sound effects have been improved to further enhance the atmosphere of the game.
The playability remains as fast and frantic as usual and the addiction factor is still at a danger level. It's a wonder how any of you lot managed to get your copy of Gamer this month because we've had to be physically prised away from our joysticks.
Goal is a classic computer game and I personally would recommend it to everyone, whether they'd be young, old, small, big, large or skinny.
If you are a Sensible Soccer fan then ignore Goal at your peril - you won't know what you're missing. Goal isn't better or worse than Sensible, it's just different... and very, very good.