Kick Off 1 logo Amiga Format Gold

Anco £19.95 joystick

Mention the name Anco, and the chances are mental images of scantily-clad poker-playing women will pop into the average games-player's head. This stereotype is not entirely fair - because Anco have released some great titles in the past, including Karting Grand Prix - but perhaps Kick Off will go some way towards changing Anco's image in the public eye. It is the first in what promises to be a strong range of products coming up over the next few months.

As you might guess, Kick Off is a football game. One or two players can compete, each controlling a full eleven-a-side team during games of between ten and a full ninety minutes of real time. All the action is viewed from above and you control the player in the best position to get at the ball: the character under control is highlighted by a black line. The game has been designed so that players automatically dribble the ball whenever they come into contact with it. Shots or passes to another player simply require a tap on the fire button, and the longer the button is held down, the higher the ball will go.

Because of the dribbling it is tough to get used to turning with the ball, so for the first match or two you will end up kicking the ball half-way up the pitch in completely the wrong direction! You can hold the fire button down before making contact to trap the ball and turn in any direction you wish, then release the button to kick the ball. This makes things easier, but by taking advantage of the 'practice' option you will be in much better shape to play against someone who is trying to beat you.

Once confident with the controls, you can choose to play a single game or to compete in the league (the players and the computer can have their skill level adjusted, from International class right down to Sunday League).

There are eight teams in the league (so up to eight people can compete, if each selects a different team) and each team has a different playing style and skill level. For example, West Germany tend to tackle heavily (not always to their own advantage) while Russia are extremely fast and very skilful. A coin is tossed at the start of the match to determine whether you play up the pitch (screen) or down. Then you select a line-up, 4-2-4 for attacking play, 5-3-2 for sweepers and so on, and dive straight into the match.

Anco have really delivered the goods here. Kick Off is the best football game on the Amiga to date and should be in any gamesplayer's library, whether he or she is a fan of real football or not.

Terrific scrolling and animation compliment the gameplay, and the sound effects (whistles, crowd reactions and ball being kicked or bouncing off the goalpost) add lots of atmosphere. Triffic, Brian!

Kick Off 1 logo

Price: £19.95

Since the appearance of the Amiga some two years ago we have had a squad of basketball sims, American footie sims and golf games, many of good quality. The history of football sims however is limited to a couple of poor offerings. Kick Off pulls one back for the home side.

At first look Anco's game does not hold much hope. The screen consists of huge expanses of green stripes and a mass of little red and blue characters. Playing seems to confirm fears as the ball flies all over the park and your men show less control than a Sunday League side suffering from a collective hangover. I should know.

But initial impressions are misleading. As a matter of fact, Kick Off proves to be a surprisingly playable and immensely entertaining game.

The control method does take some getting used to. A small line is shown in front of the players and by using it in some sort of you can dribble with the ball. Trapping and distribution is effected by holding the fire down before you reach the ball. This is what really takes getting used to, because to begin with you will find yourself punting the ball all over the place. Control is not foolproof, in fact it is flawed, but it does represent a genuine attempt to simulate the game.

Whilst the graphics are small, they are quite neat and reasonably well animated, so you can see what is going on amid all the goalmouth action. There are plenty of neat touches too with fouls, yellow cards, sending offs and penalties. And when a man scores he runs back to the centre circle and performs a neat flip for the crowd.

Sound is variable with some muffled samples and a crowd roar which lends the game some atmosphere even if they sound none too authentic.

Other elements include a league system and various levels of play. You can play the computer, but the game really comes into its own in two player mode.

This might not look the greatest thing since Trevor Brooking, and it is nowhere near as perfect, but it sets the standard for other games in the league to follow.

Drafty shorts, legs with warts and a team that everyone supports

Kick Off 1 logo Zzap! Gold Medal Award

Anco, Amiga £19.95

What do mucky shorts, oranges and ninety minutes all have in common? And no, they're not the implements and duration of one of Maff's more auspicious traits - it's that time-honoured English tradition, a good, hard game of football.

Just the right time of the year for it as well. Nice and hot(ish), everybody feeling fit and mean, wanting to show off in front of the crowd. And what better way than to jump into a footy strip and get on down to the park for a bit of a knockabout.

Of course, that's all well and good if you haven't got one foot in the grave, but if you're a bit dodgy in the health department, or simply can't be chewed to bet out of that comfy armchair on a weekend there is an answer! Computer footer!!

And as if enough companies haven't jumped on the soccer bandwagon (or team-bus) of late, Anco feel obliged to check their footy boots into the running with the release of Kick Off

Presented in the now familiar birds-eye view format, eleven-a-side soccer action comes alive on your Amiga. Dribble that ball, head that ball, kick that ball, kick that man - you can do the lot. Teams can be selected from a selection of categories, ranging from schoolboy to International, the level of speed and control becoming higher the tougher the team. Play time varies from five to forty-five minutes per half, depending on the player's tastes.

One or two players can participate, a flick of a coin deciding who gets the kick off. To help keep a track of where your players are situated at any time during the game, a plan view of the pitch is shown in the top left hand corner of the screen, the size of which can be changed at the press of a key.

So why go outside and kicked all over when you can put some shorts on, flick some water on your face and nestle down to a game of Kick Off?

Gordon Houghton Until Kick Off, we hadn't seen a really ace soccer sim on the Amiga, but Anco have delivered the goods admirably. It lacks aural and visual frills, with titchy characters and average sound effects, but snazz is unimportant when the game is as good as this. Honestly, we sat all afternoon playing this solidly, and never got bored once. I think the best part of the game is the unusual control method which Anco have adopted. Instead of sticking to your foot whichever way you turn (as in previous soccer games), you must make sure that you're behind the ball - an idea which has proved successful in lifting Kick Off from the Sunday League to the top of the First Division (Corny Footy Phrases Inc.).
Paul Rand Last time I went out for a game of football I had to sit down behind the goal and have a tab, and I was the goalkeeper! Needless to say, I'm not the fittest of individuals, but I do like a good footy game on the computer. And Kick Off is a good footy game, believe me. The programmers haven't gone ape over the presentation, but they more than make up for that as far as the gameplay is concerned. The pitch is nothing special (then again, what pitch is?) but it scrolls smoothly, and the players are a tad on the small side but run, kick and foul realistically. Sound is restricted to crowd noises and the referee's whistle, but as I said the game is good enough to get past all this.
The action is fast and furious and glues you to the seat, with a really high level of addiction. Kick Off is probably the best soccer game on the Amiga at the moment, and it should clean up while everyone is waiting for Microprose Soccer to emerge.

You have to be on the ball

Kick Off 1... ...Extra time logo

EVANS is away on the left, he's past one defender, he's past another. There's spectators on the pitch. They think it's all over... Evan slams the ball into the top left of the net. It is now!!
England may not win the Wold Cup again, but they should give Eire the trashing they deserve (he said in a partisan manner). Yep, I've just seen a World Cup draw where luck took a back seat, and troublesome fans guaranteed a seeded position. One man may not be an island, but 11 will have to play on one.

Kick Off was the best footy game of '89. In fact the best action footy game ever. Now Anco has released an expansion disc.
This is Extra Time, the expansion disc to Kick Off that provides extra referees, formations, playing surfaces, kicking abilities and winds.

The referees are inconsequential, which is something that could be levied at the formations. Blitz, Crisscross, Falcon and Lockout are the four new formations added to the regulars. However, Blitz is an all out attacking formation that is as effective as Liverpool playing 4-2-4, with Rochdale strikers as the front four. It just doesn't work.
Crisscross is equally hopeless. This formation is supposed to enable your team to keep possession of the ball. Does it it? Does it hell. Falcon makes use of your wingers, if you have good wingers that is. But that results in your equivalent of John Barnes sprinting down the wing only to find that Ian Rush is still plodding in the midfield area.

Playing 4-2-4 with fast wingers is just so much more effective. All of which leads us on to the only new formation that is really worth the time of day - the Lockout.
This entails most of your squad hanging around your penalty area to such an extent that that they are in danger of being arrested for loitering. In fact, the Lockout is far too effective, and when the computer plays it, you'll learn the meaning of the word frustration. Ho hum, so what new surface can you look forward to playing on? Well, there's artificial (Oldham), Normal, Hard, Soggy and Wet.

Now then, what was the only problem with Kick Off? It was the fact that the ball skidded off the surface faster than the players and they could rarely catch up.
So what has Anco done with the new surfaces? Made it so that the ball slows down? Nahh, that might be useful. Most of the surfaces actually make the ball bounce higher and run faster.
I can't really believe this. I'm sorry but I can't. This is stupidity beyond belief. There's only one surface, soggy, that makes the ball slow down, but the players also slow down as well, making for an irritating game. Talk about opportunities missed. This is like Lineker on a bad day.

What's next, ah yes, the most fundamental change of all. The ability to kick the ball. You can now kick the ball at various strengths, in fact you could before, but now it's supposed to be more deliberate.
As soon as a player picks up the ball (it'd be handball - but you know what I mean), the line underneath turns white. It then starts turning black, pixel by pixel - the more white white pixels when the fire button is pressed, the stronger the shot.

All good and well in theory, after all it sounds quite natural. However in practice this makes the game very hard. Why? Because Kick Off is an instinctive game relaying on very fast reactions to score goals and clear the ball. It all results in desperate clearances being kicked all of three feet to a marauding striker, and shots on goal turning into harmless prods into the goalie's arms.

Naturally the computer teams can hit pixel-perfect balls every time, so even playing Russia, the best team in the league system, it's still an uphill struggle.
Add to this wind factor 10 and you can have games where skill sits and watches in the stand while the artless slog it out on the turf. The wind factors can be quite amusing if set to Crazy level. A goalkeeper can even score at the other end with one kick.

Although most of these improvements can be turned off, doing so would mean that you had wasted your money. To be honest, if you have completely mastered the original game, and are looking for a real challenge, then Extra Time is it. Otherwise, stick to Kick Off, because beginners are heading for hours of fruitless frustration.

Kick Off 1... ...Extra Time logo

Anco £9.95 joystick

This must be one of the most keenly-awaited expansion disks of all time. Why? Well, if you have not experienced the joys of Kick Off, your Amiga has not been used.

Basically, Brian, the disk allows modifications to be made to the original game (and you will need the original KO disk) including deciding what sort of state the pitch should be in (soggy, hard and so on). There are also some extra playing formations including all-out attack ('Blitz') and all-out defence ('Lockout'). But by far the biggest difference is the inclusion of a strength meter where the player can decide the strength of the kick by hitting the firebutton when the small highlight bar at his feet changes colour (black to white: the blacker the line, the stronger the kick).

What a great idea all these variations are. What a shame they are a total waste of time. The strength meter just does not work as an idea, the different pitches have little effect and the new tactics make little difference. It is almost like you can take all the good bits out of Kick Off and play a very average football game. Don't bother wit it.

Kick Off 1... ...Extra Time logo


Amiga reviewThis is an expansion disk for Kick Off which was the greatest football happening since Bolton won the Sherpa Van Trophy earlier this year.

Used in conjunction with the original Kick Off disk, it offers a whole host of new features, and improves on some of the dodgy bits of the original to boot.

Amongs the new options are four new team formations, including 'Falcon', which relies heavily on the wings for attacking. (Falcon-wings - geddit? Ho hum). There are also different pitch types, wind conditions, and pitch conditions to select. Dino Dini has assumed that anyone buying this is already familiar with the method and speed of Kick Off, and so Extra Time plays even faster than the original.

For those already in possession of the original, Extra Time is a brilliant addition. The new options alter the game for the better, and it plays incredibly fast. The best just got better.

Kick Off 1... ...Extra Time logo

(Anco, Amiga £9.95)
Review by 'Footy' Phil King

We Kick Off fans have waited a long time for this data disk for Dino Dini's brilliant footy game. So it came as something of an anticlimax when it arrived at ZZAP! Towers.

True, there are some new features, but other promised additions are conspicuous by their absence. A new set of harder referees was promised, but all that seems to have changed are their names. Apparently the players have three more attributes (tackling, passing and shooting skills) to give them extra individuality, but in practice it is hard to appreciate this feature - perhaps it was meant for the unfortunately omitted team selection option which was originally planed.

On the positive side, you do get a choice of four new playing surfaces (hard, artificial, wet, and soggy) as well as wind conditions which range from none to crazy (gale force!). Before each match you also get an extra four formations to choose from: Blitz (all-out attack), Lockout (very defensive), Falcon (fast wing attacks), and Criss Cross (possession play). And for mediocre players the choice of three skill levels for the league (previously only international) is most welcome.

Probably the most noticeable features in play, however, are the two ball control options. Shot Power allows you to determine the power of a pass/shot by watching the small line beneath the controlled player which rapidly turns white. However, even experienced players such as myself found it very hard to time shots correctly and often ended up just tapping the ball a few inches down the pitch - very annoying!

More useful is the After Touch feature which allows you to bend shots by moving the joystick after kicking the ball. This really adds an extra dimension to gameplay and some spectacular goals can be scored using it.

The only other in-game changes are player control of goal kicks (thankfully removing the irritation of a computer-controlled goalie throwing the ball straight to the opposing centre forward!) and the way injured players slow down (unfortunately the lack of tough refs leaves scope for extensive nobbling!).

Overall, Extra Time does not offer as many options as we had hoped for but the ball control options do change the nature of the game to a more skilful one, putting an extra lease of life into a footy classic.