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Released: 1993

Genre: Sports

Format reviewed: Amiga 500

Publisher: Virgin Interactive

Developer: Dino Dini

Submitted by: Clarance Frank

This is Kick Off 3, sort of. Dino Dini – the creator of the Kick Off series – parted company with publisher Anco, and while they held on to the franchise (producing the Officially awful Kick Off 3), Dini held on to his code and produced Goal!, which is the true culmination of the series.

The first noticeable change is the presentation, there’s a slickness and professionalism about this product that never seemed to be there with the Kick Off games. Customisable kits and the inclusion of player stats and teams from the real world is nice, but probably the most striking changes visually are the new pitch views –  a new horizontal one, and the inclusion of a Sensible Soccer style view where the camera is pulled back and much more of the pitch is visible.

The players themselves are now solid entities on the pitch who will hold up the ball with their backs to the defence, although they can also now be bumped off the ball when in possession.  Another key change is the acceleration of players. When a player runs now speed is gradually built up, and the opposite occurs when the player slows down as well. 

All these and many other changes take a bit of getting used to, but the style of control needed to succeed here hasn't changed too dramatically, its just been fine tuned a bit, and it doesn’t take long to appreciate and adapt to all the improvements. The end result is a much nicer game. The rough edges of Dini’s previous games have been smoothed away – the visuals have been updated, and the sound effects are much more beefy (the crowd chanting especially is much improved). And while you can still view Goal! in the traditional Kick Off manner, I found the Sensi-Soccer view much easier to live with.

There’s an obvious attempt here by Dini to incorporate some of the features found in Sensible Soccer, while at the same time keeping all the aspects of Kick-Off that made it so great in the first place. The best Kick-Off game without a doubt – whether it’s superior to Sensi is another matter.