Kicking off

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Kicking off
developer Ascaron
Publisher Ascaron
Designer Gerald Koehler
First title Kick-off - The Football Manager (1993)
Last title Kick-off 2007 (2006)
Platform (s) Commodore Amiga , MS-DOS , Windows
Genre (s) Business simulation (soccer manager) , sports simulation

Kick-off - The Football Manager is a football manager series published at irregular intervals from 1993 to 2006 by Ascaron (formerly Ascon ) . It represented one of the longest-running series of this genre in Germany . The last part so far, Anstoss 2007 , appeared in August 2006. When Ascaron went bankrupt in August 2009, the series was initially discontinued. Kalypso Media later took over the rights and plans to continue the series in 2021.

Kick-off games

Kicking off

In 1993 Ascaron published (at that time still under the name Ascon) Anstoss for the Amiga , later also for MS-DOS .

The game designed by Gerald Köhler was a huge success at the time and replaced the Bundesliga manager series as the reference product in this genre.

The menu consisted of an office from where the player could access individual submenus. After selecting a team at the start of the game, the player was able to determine the training, expand the stadium, transfer players and prepare the team for the upcoming Bundesliga game.

The game display was selectable and so there was an off mode for fast players in which only the result was displayed at the end, a text mode in which the game ran quickly through the 90 minutes and was commented on by a written text and finally the scene mode in addition to the text delivered still drawn, moving images for the game. Except for the off mode, it was possible to intervene in the game by substituting and changing tactics.

The aim of the game was to be appointed national coach at some point through sporting success.

Anstoss developed into a success and immediately made it to the top of the media control game charts. But the game was not spared from criticism either. By restricting the game to ten seasons and one playable league (German Bundesliga), the game lost its complexity. The title of national coach also seemed pointless, as the award had no effect on the game.

In Great Britain the game was distributed under the title On the Ball , the French version was called Carton Rouge .

Kick-off World Cup Edition

After the success of Anstoss, Ascon presented the Anstoss World Cup Edition (short: WCE) in 1994. The game turned thematically to another area of ​​football: the football world championship . While Anstoss gave insights into the world of the club coach and manager, Anstoss WCE concentrated on the activities of a national coach.

First of all, the player could choose a country that he wanted to train. Many countries from Europe and America were available. He then chose the host country for his virtual World Cup.

After that, the game was split into two parts: qualifying and the World Cup finals. In principle, the qualification could also be left out and the final round started immediately.

Qualifying for the World Cup took 20 months. Every month the national coach returned to his office, which was designed similarly to the one in Kick-off. For one month, in addition to qualifying matches, the player was able to call his 40-man national team to friendly matches and courses.

The game display has only changed insignificantly compared to Kick. This time some passages of the text mode were spoken by the sports reporter Marcel Reif . At half-time, the player was also able to speak to the team for the first time, during which he could express his opinion on the first half.

The highlight, however, was the training. During the qualification it was possible to appoint the national players to a course for three days in five months. The training in WCE was much more differentiated than in Kick-off. To this day, Anstoss WCE is also considered to be the only game in the football manager genre that had integrated live training. For the first time, the player could also follow the training of his men live and see which of his players was improving or deteriorating.

It was also possible to come for observations. If the player traveled to an international match in which his team was not involved, he could gain information about the game system and the player material of the other teams.

During the World Cup, Anstoss WCE achieved a level of detail that has never been achieved to this day. So it was possible for the national coach to plan every single hour of his day. The World Cup lasted 30 days. The game menu changed from an office to a hotel. From the hotel, the player could get to all important screens.

In the day planner it was possible to enter appointments for each of the 30 days. So it was free to use the time for press conferences, team meetings, training or for the family.

The game was over as soon as the team was eliminated from the tournament or won the World Cup.

Impetus WCE, which was published in Great Britain as On the Ball: World Cup Edition , received 99% from an English trade magazine, which was a dream grade. However, the WCE kick-off was also criticized because only a single world championship could be played and the game then ended automatically; a possible title defense was therefore not possible. Only those nations could be played that were eligible to participate in the 1994 World Cup.

In Switzerland, the game appeared under the name Hopp Schwiiz as the official World Cup game of the Swiss national team. This version, localized by Bidule 4 (now Day Interactive), was heavily slimmed down and only allowed the player to act as the Swiss national coach. Qualification was also not included.

Kick-off 2

In 1997 Kick 2 was published. It convinced with wit, complexity, the 2D scene mode and the text mode. Good sales figures and good ratings (e.g. GameStar 83%) confirm this.

The menu navigation of the game changed completely. Now there was a bar in the lower part of the screen, which led the player through the individual screens.

Kick 2 specialized again completely in the job of the club manager. The developers took some of the weaknesses from Kick-off 1 and improved them. The opportunity to train in the 2nd Bundesliga and the then regional league (north, north-east, south, south-west) and in other countries (England, France, Italy, Spain) was particularly well received. In addition, the game was now playable indefinitely, which was very popular with the players. There was also a new game mode: "real managerial career". While in soccer managers the player always had to choose his team himself, when choosing this game mode, some rather weaker teams were thrown out, with which the player could negotiate a coaching position. This game mode was seen as quite realistic and can be found in every competitive manager game these days.

Kick-off 2: extension!

In February 1998, kick-off 2: Extension! an add-on that added new features to the game and made it one of the most complete soccer managers out there at the time.

In Kick-off 2: Extension, the principle of country selection was revised again. It was now possible to select three countries at once.

The national team mode was also reintroduced, but nowhere near as detailed as in Kickoff WCE. The player could now become national and club coach at the same time.

Kick off 2 gold

In September Kick 2 Gold appeared , which includes both Kick 2 and Extension! contains.

Kick 2 Gold contained only a few innovations, such as B. a detailed merchandise sales, however, was already at the release virtually free of bugs and was considered one of the best football manager of that time.

Kick-off 3

In 2000, the second sequel was published with Kick 3 . It sold more than 200,000 times in a year. It received good ratings from game magazines (e.g. PC Player 87%, GameStar 88%, PC Games 86%).

Although it was initially criticized by the gaming community because of its frequency of bugs , it did not detract from the enthusiasm of the Kickoff fans, as it contained the most important elements of Kickoff 2 Gold and could deepen them even further.

Now you could choose up to five countries to simulate at the start of the game. The seasonal calculation was deepened in many points, but it was also possible to automate certain negotiations through the computer in order to run through the calculation faster. In addition, it was now possible to bring clubs to the stock exchange. In addition, many statistics were added or expanded.

The 3D game display is considered particularly successful. The player could watch a complete game of his team reduced to nine minutes. The scene mode was also considered revolutionary, as the scenes were not precalculated, as in the previous parts. The game scenes were commented on by the famous football commentator Günther Koch .

The implementation of the club's premises was also new. From apple trees to fitness courses and doping labs to skyscrapers, the player was able to expand his club area with buildings, objects and living beings with and without use.

With the release of the final patch to version 1.40 it became almost bug-free and could convince the kick-off players. To date, a total of over a million copies of Kick 3 have been sold, making it one of the most successful PC games in Germany. Despite its age, Kick 3 is considered to be the best part of the Kick series due to the great depth of play together with a successful text and 3D mode . The fact that Kick 3 is still very popular today is also due to the multiplayer mode. This enables up to 4 players to compete against each other in the network.

Kick-off action

With impetus Action followed in 2001, a football simulation, the dataset in kick-3 can be integrated to kick 3 Action or shortly A3 Action (comparable to the " Football Fusion " technology EA Sports ).

However, Kick Action could not really prevail against the competition from Electronic Arts and caused Ascaron's financial difficulties due to high development costs, which culminated in the first bankruptcy.

Kick-off 4

Impulse 4 , which was released exclusively on DVD in 2002 , could no longer build on the success of its predecessor. The game had to be completely reimplemented because the code of Kick 3 was considered too confused to be able to use it. This, as well as the short development time of only 12 months, meant that the program suffered from a lot of bugs that made it almost unplayable. Furthermore, the text and 3D mode was viewed as too weak by the fan base and the manufacturer Ascaron was asked to make significant improvements. The manufacturer decided not to fix the program errors with patches , but to bring a new, revised manager onto the market based on Kick 4 .

Kick 4 is therefore considered the worst part of the kick-off series, as it could not shine through playability, realism or wit. Although the new database system, which now included 145 countries, to which four leagues could be added, was praised by the manufacturer, it tended to cause very long waiting times, which massively delayed the game.

Kick 4 differed from its predecessors not least in that the two main developers Gerald Köhler and Rolf Langenberg left the Ascaron team and switched to the competition from EA Sports to develop the soccer manager series there. Since then, the fan community has also split into two camps.

Ascaron was sued by its competitor Electronic Arts for license infringement shortly before the release of Kick-off 4 and had to crush the entire CD production and change all player names.

Kick-off 4 Edition 03/04

A year later, an error-corrected and extended version of Anstoss 4 was published with Anstoss 4 Edition 03/04 . The text and 3D modes have been completely revised and made clearer and more user-friendly. Buyers of the previous version were offered an inexpensive exchange for the new edition. This edition was considered a kind of compensation for the fans; Shortly before Christmas 2003, Ascaron made a free fan patch available that integrated some of the features desired by fans into the game.

Kick-off 2005

In 2004 a revised version of Edition 03/04 was published with Kick-off 2005 . In addition to a new user interface, a significantly improved AI and an extended text mode, numerous other changes (e.g. an improved transfer area) have been made.

The changes were not visible at first glance, however, and so Kick 2005 was only considered a Kick Edition in new colors. Ascaron's goal, however, was mainly to attract new fans for future projects.

Many ideas from Kick-Off 4 were improved, but not fully developed. It is also possible here to buy an association and take over the presidency, but it is hardly possible to celebrate success here. The transfer market is also considered to be rather unrealistic, as 4 clubs always apply for a player.

Kick-off 2007

In mid-2005, Ascaron announced Kick-off 2006 . However, as the release was delayed, the game was renamed Kick 2007 . On August 11, 2006, Anstoss 2007 was released, which corresponds to Anstoss 2006 except for the changed name, in an anniversary edition that contains some of the series' predecessors (Anstoss 2 Gold, Anstoss 3, Anstoss Action and Anstoss 4 Edition 03/04). The developers' announcement to expand the text mode, revise the transfer market and reintegrate the popular network mode, which is designed for up to 64 players, was well received. However, the deletion of a national coach mode and a hot seat mode were received negatively . On January 30, 2007, after 5 patches, the work on Kick 2007 was officially stopped. Despite bitter criticism from the community because of remaining bugs and missing functions (described in the manual), Ascaron decided to take this step due to a lack of financial and human resources. In 2010 the full version appeared again, this time in the June issue of PC Games .

Kick-off in 2022

After Kalypso Media acquired the rights to the series, it is to be continued in 2021 with the title Impulse 2022 .

Kick off online

Based on the data set from Anstoss 3, an independent browser game version was launched in 1999 under the name Anstoss Online . Starting with the 1st and 2nd Bundesliga, the game was gradually expanded and now includes 1,792 clubs from 52 countries based on reality. In 2004 it was renamed (FMO). Despite numerous extensions and game developments, the browser game version is still largely based on the kick-off series. In mid-2014, the company was renamed to Anstoss Online .


Since Ascaron not official FIFPro - licenses decreed to name faithfully in his manager games, the player and team names for each game of the series is an editor that allows the fans to adjust these data to the reality. So it is possible to create a current data set for each season. In April 2006, the DFL sent requests to fansites to withdraw these records from circulation, otherwise fines could be imposed.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Kick off 2022: Legendary football manager returns - Kalypso announces a new part , PC Games from July 1, 2020; Accessed July 1, 2020
  3. renaming to Anstoss-Online, domain transfer from to, accessed on July 13, 2014
  4. ^ "Kick-off": The light-footed football manager in retrospect , of July 28, 2013
  5. : message from May 24, 2006 (accessed on May 10, 2012).