Tip Off logo

People have been waiting and waiting for Anco to pitch in with another sporting sim. The Kick Off series played, as they say, a blinder so surely the next athletic action feast would be just as good? Elements from Kick Off and Player Manager are used in Tip Off. These include selecting a squad and alerting each player's potential, overhead views, even the packaging looks the same. But somehow the gameplay just isn't there.

The game comes as two disks with several options to choose before you get into match play. The most irrelevant is the single-player practice. After loading a few times you are taken to a court where your absurdly long-armed, and solitary, player stands ready to sink a few baskets. It all looks very pleasant. He leaps, he bounds, he carries out complex overhead shots, he passes to no-one in particular, he even wanders out of vision (the only way you know he's still in the gym is by the thumpty thump sound of the ball on the polisher floor).

The really strange thing about this screen is that it has nothing to do with the real gameplay. No where in the rest of Tip Off do you get the chance to use these skills. You can view this in two ways: it's a pleasant freebie, or it's a waste of disk space.

Onto the real thing. You get to manage and then play with a team of pro-basket chappies. The management side entails creating a squad and assigning each player a number of attributes from a pool of points. There are 350 points to begin with and these have to be split between attributes and skills such as dribbling ability, passing, shooting, pace, jumping, stealing and stamina. Once you have set up your team you get to pick the first stringers and the subs. Then it's on into battle.

Oh dear. Yes the overhead is there, yes there is plenty of motion, and yes some of the players will even take their shorts off and moon at you. But really, could yo be bothered to actually finish a game of four quarters where you can't actually tackle anyone. Gaining and regaining the ball is a matter of luck, you can score from the half-way line and miss from the shooting zone? Maybe it's something to do with the lack of basketball culture in Britain (yes I know Crystal Palace and Kingston are fab - they also have a large American staff) but there just does not seem to be the same excitement and feeling of participation that you would expect from a good sporting sim.

Te figures are just too small, and too weedy to get any real edge on, the joystick controls are so finicky to master that you end up by pointing your player in roughly the right direction and pressing fire in the vain hope that the ball will go somewhere interesting. You can't even commit a personal foul deliberately to relieve the tedium.

Aside from the gameplay or lack of it, Tip Off is weighty with extraneous options. You can play in International, Country, Youth, National, Club, and Club classes. The number of points in your attribute pool affects your choice here.

There are a multitude of controls to get used to. These range from straightforward dribbling, through to slamdunking (make sure you've got a tall player otherwise this turns into slamflunking) and the Bounce pass. The problem is that while playing you don't have time to use any of them. I also defy anyone to come up with an affordable joystick that can cope with the differences between the controls.

Sadly, Tip Off lacks atmosphere, finesse of gameplay and particularly flare which would have made it a must of a game for sporting fans. It does try, the sheer number of options vouch for this. But at the end of the day you have to call a time out and go and do something else instead. Shame!

Tip Off logo Amiga Joker Hit

Wenn die "Kick Off" Macher ein Basketball-Game herausbringen, sind die Erwartungen natürlich hoch: Wartet hier wieder ein Kultspiel, das selbst überzeugte Anti-Sportler vor den Bildschirm lockt?

Zwei Disks in der Packung, da kommt beim Anco-Kenner Vorfreude auf - die Fußballgames sind ja bislang immer mit einer Scheibe ausgekommen! Doch der Enthusiasm ist bald wieder verflogen, denn die erste enthält nur Titlebild und -sound. Auf Disk Nr. 2 geht's dafür gleich wieder los mit den gewohnten, höchst umfangreichen Menüs und Untermenüs. Egal ob Training, Demo- oder Einzelspiel, Liga-Modus, Schwierigkeitsgrad, Taktik- oder Teamdesign, alles ist möglich, alles ist vorhanden, und alles ist veränderbar.

Naja, sagen wir mal fast alles... Aber das ist halt immer noch eine ganze Menge: Beispielsweise gibt es allein fünf Schwierigkeitsgrade und 20 verschiedene Schiedsrichter, Spielzeit und -Geschwindigkeit lassen sich einstellen, man kann mit oder ohne Fouls spielen und selbstverständlich in allen nur denkbaren Kombinationen von (bis zu vier) menschlichen und digitalen Korbwerfern.

Besonders erwähnenswert ist das komplett joystickgesteuerte Taktikmenü, das nicht bloß mit sehr umfangreichen Auswahl- und Einstellmöglichkeiten glänzt (16 vorgegebene Taktiken plus beliebig viel selbst gehäkelte), sondern auch wesentlich bedienungsfreundlicher ist als etwa sein Gegenstück im "Player Manager".

Im Gegensatz zum Training ist das Spielfeld dann wie üblich aus der Vogelperspektive zu sehen, natürlich wird nach allen Regeln der Basketballkunst gespielt, und die Joysticksteuerung ist erwartungsgemäß vielseitig und durchdacht ausgefallen (allerdings ein bißchen gewöhnungsbedürftiger als bei "Kick Off").

Es gibt Auswechselspieler, einen Actionreplay-Modus mit drei verschiedenen Geschwindigkeiten sowie einen jederzeit ein- und ausblendbaren Mini-Radarscreen. Also alles paletti? Ja, bis auf ein paar störende Kleinigkeiten: So sind die Männchen zwar wunderbar animiert, aber dafür ruckelt die Grafik auch ganz nett.

Außerdem unterscheiden sich die vorhandenen Plätze nur optisch voneinander, spielerisch sind sie ziemlich identisch, und sowas wie wechselnde Witterungsverhältnisse gibt es erst recht nicht. Zudem lassen sich die Actionreplay-Szenen nicht abspeichern, schließlich enthielt die englische Version des Programms einige Bugs, was sich hoffentlich in der deutschen Verkaufsversion noch ändern wird.

Grafisch kann sich "Tip Off" natürlich nicht mit "TV Sports Basketball" messen, aber es wurden ein, zwei kleine Gags eingebaut (Spieler, die die Hose runterlassen...), und Zwischenbilder sind auch vorhanden.

Gut, das Tempo ist hier nicht sooo berauschend, dafür sind die Ball- und Zuschauergeräusche allererste Sahne: die Titelmusik ist, naja, Geschmackssache. Trotz der Fülle des Gebotenen dürfte es zu einem Kultspiel diesmal also nicht ganz reichen - zu einem Hit reicht's immer noch dicke! (mm)

Tip Off logo

In the beginning there was Kick Off, and it begat many spin-offs. And lo the creator was pleased, 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 is a cow called 'Off'. This particular beast of Anco's must have incredibly sore teats considering the amount of milking it 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 rather 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).

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 yer 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 ben 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 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 fairly 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 opponent. 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).

It feels too much like Kick Off 2 on a smaller pitch

Sound-wise 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 hallow echo of a basketball court would have been appreciated, as would the sound of a crowd's presence.

The manual is 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.

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. I didn't. It's not because I don't 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.

Before courting success with yer actual game, Anco's Tip Off presents the player with the options screen displayed below.
Everything from basket practice, to game demos, team colours options, and player selection menus is accessible via this screen. Other handy sub-menus allow the players to define tactics, and fine-tune the in-game variables.
Tip Off
There's a choice of two skills to practice: individual and team. This picture shows the Practice Individual Skills option.
Tip Off
Want longer quarters? You got it. You want fouls? You got it. Want to alter the speed of play? You got it. Ad infinitum.
Tip Off
Watching two computer-controlled teams pass, dribble and shoot all over the court may get you hot but it leaves me cold.
Tip Off
In the Tip Off League Championship, 16 teams play against each other in - surprise, surprise - a league system.
Tip Off
Pit your basketball wits against a human or computer-controlled opponent. Or play in teams of two or four using an adaptor.
Tip Off
Tactics are planned by selecting blocks and placing players. The blocks are then linked together, ready for use during play.
Tip Off
In yet another crazy but true case of 'Just like Kick Off, Tip Off's team members have a set of values for various skills.
Tip Off
Ooh, you fussy thing. What's wrong with the standard blue and red strips?

Tip Off logo

Whilst the Amiga-owning world impatiently awaits Kick Off III, Anco attempt to bridge the gap with their foray into the world of Basketball. And, whilst it's by no means as playable as Kick Off and its sequel, it is by far the best Basketball to grace the machine. Actually, with competition limited to Cinemaware's TV Sports: Basketball, that's not saying a great deal, but Tip Off is probably the most playable home variety were are likely to see.

In terms of graphical and presentation styles we're in familiar land here, with programmer Steve Screech's tiny sprites once again adorning the screen, and numerous Player Manager-style option screens preluding the actual matches. However, the sound front has been greatly improved, with a sample-laden tune interrupting the load and the furious squeak of sneakers against wooden court complementing the action.

Everything within the game is joystick-controlled, with its many icons all available at the press of the fire-button. As well as the usual features we have come to expect - length of matches, choice of ref (although modesty prevents me mentioning the inclusion of a certain dashing Editorial Consultant who makes an appearance!), skill level, etc - the more strategic can also opt to lay down comlex play moves, which your on-court team will then endeavour to follow.

However, complicated as this may sound, the moves are easy to effect and follow, and don't get in the way of the main action at all - a major bonus.

The actual game itself is played over a series of court surfaces, with the players sprinting in from the right ready for the start - the 'Tip Off' for possession of the ball. In keeping with Kick Off's sparse graphical style, the players are represented by tiny sprites, but on playing it becomes apparent that they are considerably more impressive than their footy-playing counterparts.

Depending on their direction and position on the pitch, these guys spin on the spot, poke the ball between their legs, or even dummy the opposition - all in perfect detail. Apparently, there's over 500 frames of animation per player, and in the heat of a match it's easy to see where it all went. Control over these miniature Magic Johnsons is simplicity itself, with the joystick activating 'steals', blocks and shots instinctively, depending on the player's vicinity to the ball.

In addition, passing and shooting are equally simple, with the computer deciding who the best player to pass to is, and also gauging the accuracy of a shot from distance. The latter is indicated by an enlargement of the ring itself, along with an indication as to where the ball will hit it.

So how does it fare in the playability stakes? Comparing Tip Off to Kick Off and its sequel is grossly unfair as the two sports are so greatly different. Basketball is played over a smaller area, with more complex rules so, as a result, the game is slightly more disjointed than Kick Off.

However, by ignoring a few rules (you can now pass back over the halfway line for instance), Screech has tried to make the game more fluid. Personally, I think it works well, and that the game is both fast and easy to get into, but fans of the rough 'n' tumble of Kick Off may be disappointed. Of course, this is a fault inherited from the real thing, so neither Anco nor Screech can be held responsible.

A brave attempt which is bound to come as a slight disappointment after Anco's two Footy classics, Tip Off is still a playable and impressive game. Not quite a three-pointer, but it still scores with me.

COCK-A-HOOP! Although it is widely believed that professional Basketball came into existence in 1949, along with the formation of the National Basketball Association, stories actually date its conception to fifty-seven years before that. In addition, the rules have changed a great deal since then, too, with the original game's 14-man a-side teams battling it out in a caged arena gradually evolving into the present 5-man teams and courts we are used to seeing today.

The need of the idea lies with one James Naismith, a PE teacher from Montreal. Originally, Naismith's intentions were to promote Christianity within young men, and joinging the local YMCA in the capacity of Physical Instructor, started to teach Baseball, Football and assorted Gym activities. However, due to the area's varying weather conditions, the class rapidly got fed up with the limited indoor activities available during the winter months. Consequently, Naismith came up with the idea of a fast-paced indoor sport and the germ of Basketball was planted. His first attempt at a simple ball-game was deemed a failure by the class members, so elements from Football, Rugby and even Lacross were added to give further pace to the new sport.

At the time the fledgling sport was evolving. Naismith was being scrutinised by the YMCA's higher echelons, who were worried about the time he was wasting developing it. However, with ball-play already determined, all that was needed now was to determine how each player could score 'goals'. Recalling a game he played in his youth, Naismith promptly decided upon a 'ring', into which the ball should be thrown. This decided, the sport grew slowly in popularity, changing gradually into the sport we know today.

Tip Off logo Zero Hero

Those bods at Anco sure know how to name a game. First they gave us Kick Off, then Kick Off 2 and now they've blessed us with Tip Off, reviewed here by Douglas Male. Rumours that their next release will be a soccer hooligan simulation called F Off are yet to be confirmed by the company.

When we graciously allowed America to go its separate way, back in the annals of time, little did we know that they would produce generations of crass, overbearing loudmouths. They also developed three games: American Football, baseball and basketball, in which to vent their egos. All of these were, of course, rip-offs of proper British games like rugby, football, rounders and netball (probably). And just to rub salt into the wound, they go and bring the darn games over here.

Anco, feeling pretty chuffed with their rather stonking Kick Off series, have turned their experience to bringing us a playable simulation of one such game - basketball. Thankfully, there's hardly an American to be seen.

With Tip Off, you name it, you can do it. Want a snog with Kylie? No probs. A spending spree in Milton Keynes? Say no more. Well, perhaps you can't do absolutely everything, but you can sure as hell try. If you're familiar with Kick Off, the options available shouldn't be too daunting. There are too many things to mention here, but rest assured there's a lot of button-clicking available, if that's what turns you on. If it doesn't, rush into the Single Game and get slam-dunking.

The Game Options screen allows you to select the length of each quarter: from two minutes right up to twelve. You can shift the skill levels from Youth Squad through to International standard. Game speed can be altered, officials selected and league style chosen (two leagues of eight, or one big league of sixteen).

If you're into tactics, you can change 'em. You can even run through the movements your players should be following, using the nifty Animation option. If you've always wanted a team that included Paul Daniels and the twins from Neighbours, aim for the Create Teams box. Once there, you can alter their attributes and skills. If you feel Caroline would stand a better chance with Bouncer by changing her age, height, flair, pace, stamina or composure, you can do it. If Paul Daniels' lack of talent is too severe, you can improve his dribbling, stealing passes, jumping or shooting skills.

Meet 'Ron Hardman' in the Team Colours option. He also reappears in the Practice Skills menu. You can watch old Ron, mincing his way toward the net for a shot on goal. Luckily, this also allows you to practice those all-important skills.

The list of options goes on and on. Get into the game and you're treated to end-to-end stuff à la Kick Off. While playing, you can call time-outs, substitute players and change tactics. All pretty comprehensive, really.

Amiga reviewDouglas: I must admit, when I first loaded Tip Off I thought, "Ooh dear, I wish I'd looked at the manual"'But even without it, I soon found myself scoring baskets. The control system is a credit to Anco. If anything, it plays better than Kick Off 2. Perhaps its due to the fact that there are only five players, instead of ten, under your control. Maybe it's because the court isn't as big. Whatever it is, it works!

Minor criticisms include the fact that it's too easy to score distant baskets, and it's damn hard to defend once your opponent's on the attack. But that, of course, could just be down to me. The Scanner option also seemed a bit useless, but then I never used it in Kick Off either.

If you liked Kick Off 2, you should love Tip Off. The sound is functional after a smooth introduction, limiting itself to the cheers of the crowd, bounce of the ball, skid of the shoes and the obligatory referee's whistle. Similarly, the graphics do the job clearly. All in all, it's a real corker. Just watch out for Ron - he's coming to get you! Stop