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Anco Software Ltd
Sport: Action
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 128K

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Paul Laikin
Chris Bourne

There aren't any decent cricket games on the Speccy. Sadly this situation has not been improved by Anco's sequel to the world-dominating, government-toppling, knee-trembling Kick Off (Well, world-dominating, government-toppling and knee-trembling on the 16 bit machines at least). Cricket is a slow, peaceful game mixing the gentle whack of leather on willow with the soothing sight of men in white pottering round a green field.

Anco have completely failed to incorporate any of these factors into Kick Off II. Not surprising really since the game is about football. (I was beginning to wonder if you'd noticed. Ed.)

Football is not a pretty game and nor is Kick Off II. The choice of team colours is less than helpful. Yellow players on a green pitch introduce a fairly novel camouflage element to the game. Why try to outrun your opponent when you can hide from him? More confusing still, if you stand too close to an opponent he changes to your colour. Perhaps Kick Off II is trying to be the first footie sim to incorporate an end-of-match shirt-swopping sequence. The again perhaps not.

Apart from that the graphics are something of an improvement on the original. No more of this 'players running under the touchline' nonsense. Besides, as that loveable young pop star Gazza Gascoigne proves, football isn't about looks, it's about action. Fast action, and Kick Off II has plenty of that. Although not entirely smooth the game is fast and hectic. It's no surprise to find that the playability is as skill and as skillful as on the original. If only the same could be said for me.

Alright, so Kick Off II's as playable as its predecessor and, though not perfect, the graphics are better. (What's not so alright is that it's taken you 300 words to say it. Ed) But are there any other differences? Well, of course there are, this is Kick Off II, not Kick Off One And A Half. The differences are in the options. Instead of simply setting a standard of play for both teams here you can also influence the weather conditions, the type of pitch and the like (and by "the like" I mean "After touch", a phrase worthy of an oo-er if ever I've heard one). To be honest most of the options seem to have a fairly minimal effect on the game. Waterlogged pitches make for slower, stickier play whereas on the plastic pitches there's more bounce and less control. However, the difference is not that marked and even wacking the wind speed up to full barely ruffled the referee's Paul Daniels Deluxe Toupee.

The real skill option is "after touch" which allows you to control the ball after it has left your foot. This does not mean that you can kick the ball once in your own goal area and then guide it all the way into the back of your opponent's net. Oh dear me no. Instead you can revel in Gazza-esque crosses. Thrill as the ball curls past the defence and lands at the feet of your centre forward. Gasp as you pull off a perfect banana shot. Scream as the ball executes a Thatcherite U-turn and ends up in the back of your own net.

So there we have it, pop pickers... sorry, football fans. Kick Off with knobs on. To be honest though the knobs aren't really that special. It's a good footie game but, despite the improvements in the graphics, it's not outstandingly better than the original. If you didn't buy Kick Off then Kick Off II is worth getting (unless of course you hate footie games). But it you did then there's probably no point getting the sequel. If, however, you're looking for a game of leather, willow and nice white jumpers then you're going to be sorely disappointed.

Above-average footie game but not much better than the original, and certainly not as mega as the 16-bits.


Screenshot Text

The white men turn yellow when they get close to the yellow ones - very strange!

You'll have seen screens like this loads of times before - it's a league table thingie.

Don't know what that splash of red is doing there (ropey graphics strike again) but see how the yellow players effect the goal lines - sloppy, and potentially very confusing.