The Amiga version won an industry award and has been played by the ZZAP! guys next door for many months (and indeed still is), and now we get to welcome the Spectrum Kick Off into the CRASH office.
As with many footy games the obligatory option menus have to be flicked through: choose between one or two player game, decide whether to play with keys or joystick. Practice skills or penalties, play a single game, or if you can grab a few people off the street (preferably ones you know), you can set up a league. There are eight international teams on offer: Spain, Brazil, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Argentina and England. The league runs for 14 weeks (ie 14 games), and don't worry if you can't find seven other friends - the computer will control teams you don't have players for. Next you set the playing time, which ranges between 10 and 90 minutes. Then choose a skill level. International, National, Reserve, Youth and Sunday League are on offer - each player picks his/her own skill (there's always one clever dick who chooses International to your Sunday League). Finally choose a playing formation 4-3-3 (defensive play), 4-2-4 (attacking play), 4-4-2 (good midfield control) and 5-3-2 (sweeper defensive play). And now whether you're playing a single game or a pitch.
There are several referees - some real sticklers who pickup on every foul, others who turn a blind eye. Whichever, don't foul too often - you can't win it all your players have been sent off.
The Speccy version looks quite good and is certainly playable with great features like tough referees, penalties, corners etc, my fave being the league table: a great excuse to get your friends round and wipe the floor with 'em. While not usually a great lover of football games, I must admit Kick Off proved entertaining.
MARK ... 77%
'Kick Off is brilliant! If you want a good laugh that is. Tiny little blobs (I think they're supposed lo be footballers) run around the pitch, half of them covered in a purple splodge that leaks onto the grass! You have to make these footballers move a small ball around the pitch by pushing it in the direction you want it to go. This is all very well until you need to change direction, because the ball never tags along with you, it just trundles on it's own course! This makes playing a decent game of football very difficult. There are plenty of options in the game though: you can choose different leagues, players and formations to play in. Kick Off is a bad attempt at simulating what was a really good game on 16-bit. The only similarity is the colour of the sticker on the tape! Steer clear of this one.'
NICK ... 36%
Kick Off to a mixed reception footy season for afficionados.