Amiga Power

Tip Off

Author: Gary Penn
Publisher: Anco
Machine: Amiga 500

Published in Amiga Power #10

Tip Off

In the beginning, there was Kick Off, and it begat many spin-offs. And lo the creator was pleased, and so made a basketball game in Kick Off's image.

Here's a question for you: what's painfully thin and goes "Moooouch!"? Give up? The answer's a cow called 'Off'. This particular beast of Anco's must have incredibly sore teats considering the amount of milking it's had, what with Kick Off, Kick Off 2, Extra Time, Data Disks, and Kick Off 3 to come (and now, no doubt, Tip Off 2 and Tip Off Data Disks will follow in due course...)

Now there's nothing wrong with Anco attempting to create a generic sports simulation series, but it's got to the point where I wish they'd leave a particular subject alone once it's been tackled and move on to something else. If Anco are stuck for ideas, I have a few suggestions for future 'Off' releases, such as a 'sporty' version of strip poker entitled Kit Off, and a sexy simulation called Get Off in which you attempt to 'get off' with as many birds as possible, [How about a real Graeme Souness football game called Sent Off? - Stuart] and Puck Off, which is [Gary! - Ed]

Keep Running With The Ball

Tip Off

Anyway, Tip Off is the latest addition to the 'Off' series, and as you should be aware by now it's a basketball simulation - only this one's in the distinctive Kick Off style. And a very good simulation of basketball Tip Off is too, accurately capturing the fast pace and 'thrills' of yet actual sport.

Tip Off can be played on two levels - either as a straight arcade-style basketball match or in a more managerial-cum-coach role in which teams and tactics are created and built upon (see Tip Off Options And Features).

Kick Off players should immediately feel at home with the way Tip Off is presented and with the way it plays. It has been said that Kick Off is uncontrollable - it certainly seems that way at first. Once the control has been learned however, there's scope for mastering it and personalised manoeuvres can develop.

Tip Off

Tip Off is different. It's immediately controllable, for a start, although arguably this is in light of experience gleaned from Kick Off. I certainly found it farily easy to pick up the ball and run around with it, and passing comes naturally enough. It's a doddle to dribble and shoot too (I found I could score from pretty much anywhere on the court). Developing these simple skills is a different kettle of onions altogether, though, and requires plenty of practice, particularly if you're to win against a good human component. The computer opponents play well enough to keep you amused for some time, you see, but, like Kick Off, Tip Off's more fun when played against a pal. (Playing with four people - that's two on each team, courtesy of a joystick adaptor - is a clever touch, but a little too confusing for my liking). Soundwise, there's little to write home about: a forgettable title tune and a handful of appropriate but far from outstanding spot effects, including a whistle, the clicking of feet on the court, the slap and pounding bounce of the ball, the clunk as it's sunk (this is followed by a shallow cheer), and a muffled woofing noise for a foul. The addition of the hollow echo of a basketball court would have been appreciated, as would the sound of a crowd's presence.

The manual's also lacking - in fact it's a bit of a mess. It's littered with inaccuracies (but, that said, is usable) and to its credit does feature a section of Tip Off rules, based, it says, on American basketball rules but incomplete because the flow of play would be severely disrupted if they used the lot of them. This seems fair enough to me - Tip Off certainly plays fluidly as it stands.

Remove Basket, Insert Foot

In fact, as far as having any major flaws with regard to being a playable basketball simulation, there doesn't appear to be anything drastically wrong with Tip Off. They've come up with pretty much what you'd expect, and it all works well enough. But that's not to say I enjoyed playing the game.

Tip Off

I didn't. It's not because I don't like basketball (I'm not especially mad on footy, but I like Kick Off) and it's not because I dislike the Anco style. It's just that this feels too much like playing Kick Off on a smaller pitch. That's fair warning for those who hate Kick Off, but I'm sure there are plenty of other people out there who quite like it, but have had too many variations on the theme now to want any more of the same.

So will Anco do for basketball what they did for football with Kick Off? I don't think so. Every dog has its day - but poor old 'Off' is just about milked dry. The sighs of a cow indeed.

On The Other Hand

Stuart Campbell: I don't have much argument with any specific comments in Gary's review, but I think he's falling for the hype a bit, as in "I don't like this but it's supposed to be brilliant so it's probably just me". Tip Off seems to play largely by itself - much of the time it's almost like a game of Space Ace 2, with you only controlling the action at intermittent points.

Tip Off

Tackling and shooting seems to be entirely arbitrary (on several occasions I managed to score with shots from directly under my own basket) and the players' movement across the court just doesn't feel right either (especially when two of them stand around for ages dancing at each other with no attempt to get near the ball).

Come to that, the scale doesn't look right either. I don't think you'll get anywhere near as much entertainment from this as you should from a full-price product, and for those reasons I'd have marked it about 30 percent lower.

The Bottom Line

Uppers: There's a sufficient quantity of tedious coack-like malarkey for those so inclined. It's also rather playable, which is good news for arcade heads. If you like basketball, and aren't stick to death of Kick Off, you'll like this.

Downers: The control system isn't as wholly intuitive as it should be. Otherwise, there's little to moan about - well, unless you can't stand the Kick Off style in the first place, that is.

A decent (but uninspired) simulation of basketball - what more can I say?

Gary Penn

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