During 1990 when Commodore was planning its launch of the ill fated C64GS console, a string of top developers signed up to support the console and the prospect of ridding of many a horrendous multiload by using the Cartridge format. One such developer was Anco, with a planned enhanced version of their Kick Off 2 title which had been already released. The released game had recieved quite poor ratings, so the cartridge version was to rid of these problems and create something a little more closer to the successful Amiga version.
For a start, the game was to be given a fantastic new front end and menu system. There was rumour of somekind of management system to be built and a much stronger game engine and set of improvements throughout by Ben Hayes (Both from Enigma Variations at the time). Moppe was to be behind the music for the game, and produced a fantastic digi tune ready for the game which managed to sneak out and is now sitting nicely in HVSC. There are also some unnamed tunes in the Sonic Graffiti folder in HVSC which could well have been tunes for the game (Management section in particular).
Sadly the game never quite got past the early development stages, and it was reported to be quite a tough time. Ben Hayes, who is mainly known for his music for Sonic Graffiti, was actually behind a lot of the programming and once told Commodore Scene fanzine that the development was hell and especially with the menu system which was being produced. He recently got in touch with GTW directly and shed some more light on the development, mentioning that the addition of a decent scanner was one of many problems. However it was at some stage starting to look really nice, but not a nice first game project to cut your teeth on. Essentially fixes were being bolted over the existing code, where as the game may have been better suited being started from scratch.
Ben eventually left EV before the game could be finished off, and apparently Mark Greenshields picked up the project to finish off and according to Finlay got all of the management code complete. Just how integrated everything was, Mark couldn’t remember as it was a long time ago. Before the game could be inished off, it was found that the C64GS was not a viable format afterall and Anco pulled the plug. Parts of the code reused in the NES/GB version for the menu systems and what not.
Unfortunately it is unlikely that the game ever survived, and Ben confirms that he lost all his disks in a flood at his friend’s house. There is a slight possibility that Ben has a stray disk out there somewhere but its unlikely. Mark Greensheilds offered hope that he may still have some remains, that he’ll happily let GTW take a look at, but its early days yet and we now wait to see what Mark may uncover…
Ah well, at least we have the music, and the memories… for now maybe?…
Will it be extra time for this title?…
Contributions: Ben Hayes, Mick Hanrahan, Mark Greenshields, Finlay Munro, Will Morton
Ben Hayes talks to GTW about Kick Off 2...
"I just noticed the entry for the unreleased Kick Off 2 cart. I bluffed my way into EV having just done music for a few games at the time, and the plan was to create an all singing, all dancing version of the original game (coded by Finlay Munro) for the cartridge format. Not a good title to "cut your teeth on" though, as I quickly found out.
It all looked great at one point with a good tune, nice menus and better graphics, but the problem was that these pretty bits were just added onto the original code, which just wasn't "right" from the off. The main problem was I couldn't find a way of making the 'scanner' (which showed the positions of all the players) work on-screen - this was done with an expanded sprite originally, not too useful - and as the game had been originally coded to the same scale as the Amiga version you just found yourself kicking the ball around with no idea if there was another team member in range to pass it to. This was added to the fact that some of the fundamentals of the game logic were wrong in the original version (the positions that the other players went to when you entered various areas of the pitch, for example).
The whole thing should have been redone from scratch, with the pitch and players shown at a much smaller scale so the 'scanner' wouldn't have been needed. But by the time this was realised it was too late, and I think it had already been decided that C64 carts weren't going to be the "next phase" after all, so it got canned. The menu code was reused in the NES version of the title (which I had nothing to do with) but that was about it. I met Finlay Munro a couple of times (after he and a few other EV coders had left to form another company) and he told me that the original development was hell, too. Most of my C64 disks are long gone, and I don't appear to have a shred of the game left. Believe me, it's no great loss to the world... Ooh, memories of burning countless EPROMS at 5 in the morning in a freezing cold building... *shudder*"
Ben also said these words regarding the game back in an interview in 1997 in Commodore Scene fanzine:
"Oh god, what a nightmare! Scarred me for life, that experience did! It all started with me going up to the Enigma Variations stand at some computer show or other and uttering those immortal words, 'gizza job'. Next thing I know they're on the phone... yikes! Still, I can handle it... The idea was to take the original C64 version of KO2 and make it look more like the Amiga version, better graphics, all the menus and wotsits.
However, it turned out that the original game was very badly coded (the programmer told me this, then walked away, sniggering) and when I tried to fix one part of the game, something else would fall apart, until the whole program was lying on the floor , comatose and twitching, and I wasn't much better.
This dragged on for a long time, with things getting worse and worse (I was also squatting in a house in Leeds with four students at the time, so you can imagine what a laugh that was...) Really, the whole program needed throwing out and re-writing, but by the time i'd realised this, it was far too late.
Anyway, the game was scrapped, the menu system was used for the NES version of the game, and I went home to recover, which took a while... You wouldn't have liked it anyway. By the way, if Jon Barry's out there, i'm more normal now, get in touch!"
Mick Hanrahan talks to GTW...
"The C64GS version of kick Off 2 was done while I worked at Enigma Variations, in Harrogate, UK in 1990 I think.
We were contracted by Anco/Imagineer to do Gameboy, C64GS and Amstrad Gx4000 versions.. of which the only one to get released that I can remember was the gameboy version in 1991. Each version had one main coder, myself, and a sound engineer working on them...I think there had been some previous assets created by other people before I joined the team, possibly Ben and Finlay, as you'd mentioned previously....but they'd left the company, and were working at the rival studio across the road by the time I started on the project.
Sadly, I dont have any assets from the games anymore...I just have a copy of the gameboy cartridge."