Twenty years ago, the era of the Amiga computer was coming to an end. Original manufacturer Commodore had gone bankrupt several years earlier, and with an increasing number of models being discontinued September 1996 saw the final issue of beloved magazine Amiga Power being published.
Playing Dino Dini's Kick Off Revival today reminded me that I still have a copy of that magazine on my desk (I was an avid AP reader), and that one of the games reviewed within was Kick Off '96. Clearly produced during the end of days at Amiga Power, the review was actually a four page transcript of a kangaroo court where writer Stuart Campbell was being tried for the demise of the Amiga by the Four Cyclists of the Apocalypse. It was a different time...
You can read the full review here, but a selection of highlights follow. You know things are going to go well when the article kicks off (ho ho) with a quote from Louis Antoine de Saint-Just, 18th Century military and political leader during the French Revolution:
Then there were the screenshot captions:
In their own words, it was the worst game in Amiga Power's history. Not only were the previous flaws from the series still present, including "ridiculous control, over-close view, three sound effects, insulting lack of attention to detail, teams playing in entirely the wrong colours", but it was rendered literally unplayable by a bug that meant first half injury time went on forever - the longest the reviewer played a single match for was four hours before finally giving up. Remember, these were the days before online patches were an option so there was no way to ever fix this bug, in a game that was being sold for £20, and therefore the 1% score feels like a fitting end.
So, how does Dino Dini's Kick Off Revival shape up twenty years later? The half time bug has been fixed, meaning matches can at least be completed, so I guess that's an improvement. However, the controls are terrible, the ball and players slide around on the pitch like it's made of ice, and it seems impossible to dribble the ball or even make rudimentary passes to your teammates.
Matches play out in silence, except for the occasional cheers if the ball somehow ends up in the net or boos when a player is fouled, although there's no referee which means you can't receive any cards and can kick opponents around the pitch to your heart's content. There's no team management to speak of, meaning you can't rearrange your comedy assortment of players (Harris Cane, Jordey Handerson, and Jo Hert, to name but a few) or change your tactics, though the effect any of that would have on gameplay feels pretty moot by this point.
Is Kick Off Revival better than Kick Off '96? Technically, yes. Is Kick Off Revival a game you should play? Absolutely not.