Euro 2016 has given us plenty of wonderful sights so far, including Robbie Brady's late goal against Italy and the antics of the Irish fans. Of course, it has also given us some things to forget...including Dino Dini's Kick Off Revival.
The Kick Off series' roots are in the late 80s and early 90s, and Dino Dini's Kick Off Revival was seemingly set to delve back into this simpler time. However, all it's done is make young whipper snappers thankful for the football games they have today, regardless of licenses, and older folks like myself question if the games we played were always this bad.
I never played the Kick Off series myself, but I was a huge fan of one of its rivals, Sensible Soccer, so I am well accustomed to the one button control scheme, lack of licenses, pixelated graphics, and everything else that goes hand-in-hand with games of this era. But there's a laziness to Revival that's simply unforgivable.
Let's start with game modes. When you fire up the game, you've the option to practice, play online, play a game against the AI, play a friend, or play a European Cup. And the last option seems to be why this game has been released and why it seems rushed. Aside from that, there are no custom tournaments, leagues, or other cups.
Training seems like a good place to start. Bizarrely, this takes on the form of an 11 v 1 match; you're on the clock, as you would be in a normal game, and all that really changes is that there are zones on the ground that you can hold the ball in for a moment to trigger a challenge such as crossing for a sliding goal or scoring from the centre circle. That's about all the guidance you get, and once the timer runs out the full time whistle blows, so make your time count.
The developer has since realised that players may need more guidance and has released some flowcharts breaking down how to play. For the most part, they just tell you to get the ball back or press 'the button' if you want to shoot. But they also point out that how hard you press the stick dictates how fast you'll run and how hard you'll kick the ball.
This control scheme is problematic for a few reasons. Running with the ball is nigh on impossible; you'll either move too slowly and be quite easy to tackle, particularly for the nimble AI, or you'll simply knock the ball beyond your reach. And if you do manage to move the ball into space by hook or by crook, you're less likely to get much power on your shot.
On the subject of the AI, despite being able to pick out pinpoint passes and lobs, it's still not all that inventive or exciting. Its best course of action is usually to lob the ball to its attacker who has been sitting offside at the edge of your box or even closer to your goal. Well, we say offside, but when the rule isn't implemented, can they be called offside?
The game goes to the effort of giving your team a formation and while you can change it as the game progresses (again, only discovered through a flowchart), it only really matters at kick off times. Once the ball is tipped off, everything becomes much less structured.
Not that it really matters. Every player is the same, aside from their tweaked real-world names, nobody gets injured, and noone even gets booked no matter how bad or frequently they foul.
After being knocked out of the European Cup - and never being happier to see an Irish side go home - it was time to jump into the online world. While the standards are certainly more even, online turns an already frustrating experience into a frustrating experience with lag.
The highlight of Kick Off Revival is undoubtedly the menu music. On the field, the heading and falling over animations are quite nice, but that's probably the best of it.
Many might have hoped that Dino Dini's Kick Off Revival would let them relive the glory days of top-down football games, but that hasn't panned out as hoped. Instead, you may be better off waiting for Sociable Soccer or Dan Marshall's Kickmen.
2/10 - Mark O'Beirne