Not long ago the Hessian Kick Off scene organised in the RMKO  (Rhein Main Kick Offer) were only few in number. Because a tournament only counts international if at least 4 players participate we have to say thank you to Volker and Oliver from the KLD (Cologne, Langenfeld, Duesseldorf) team. Their participations often made it possible to have a real tournaments.
Now since there are regular retro meetings in the Rhein Main area called HomeCon, we were always able to get at least 4 players from the Rhein Main area itself. That’s a big success and we now locking forward to a brighter future of the RMKO.
Beside the constant attendance of long term RMKO’s like Thorsten B, Jan K, Frank F and Juan S we were able to recruit a new star at the HomeCon: Horst L.
LR: Could you please give a short introduction of yourself?
Horst: I am 38 years old, so I got first in touch with video games in the early eighties.
First in the Arcades, as you could sneek in easily as a child in 1982 Later I bought my first computer – a C64 – and had any Amiga except the A3000.
As my parents never bought me a pong console nor an Atari 2600, two years ago I started to collect and repair any model of the Atari 2600/7800 and by having now a collection of roughly 250 cartridges, a dream of my youth became true. Once a month I take part in a Radio Show called Dr. Pong on Radio X in Frankfurt, where we talk about recent games for current Systems like Playstation and XBOX but also about Atari 2600/7800 Homebrew titles and classic Games from the golden age of video gaming.
LR: What were your Kick Off experiences before you met the RMKO?
Horst: When we started to play Kick Off 1 on a Friday evening, we skipped the disco and played until 5 o’clock in the morning until we were some how able to control the ball and score goals (even the goalie was quite week in part one).
When Kick Off 2 was released, we ordered it in advance an got an original English version.
I probaly played it with my mate from school 3 times a week until 1993. Then I left for my studies and we just had a few games afterwards.
LR: What do you think makes Kick Off different to other football games?
Horst: The fact that the ball is not attached to your foot, allowing dribblings any time, requires certain skills with your hands in controlling the ball which current soccer games do not.
In FIFA/PES you need to see the coming action and plan the sequence of the 3-4 buttons you have to press in a row in forehand.
Kick Off requires the player to be concentrated all the time and is more comparable with Table Football (Kicker/Tischfussball) as you need a certain talent to move your hand/fingers. For FIFA/PES you train more tactics and moves, in Kick Off 2 you first have to train ball control, even though tactics are important in Kick Off as well (e.g. find the weak point of your oponent and take advantage of it).
LR: What’s your opinion on turning off know bugs of the original Kick Off?
Horst: I like it! It does not change the nature of the game really and now nobody can complain that he just lost because of a bloody auto slide
LR: How important is the competiton for you?
Horst: Well, 20 years ago I just played for fun with friends but had fun to beat them all the time.
Now playing a competition and having just started again, you lose many games but it gives fun, as you can learn new ways to score goals (I never bended the ball around the goalie before I played a game vs. Thorsten B., now I do
LR: How would you describe the German Kick Off scene you got in touch so far?
Horst: The guys I met so far were all great. There is competition going on but you allways get tips how to improve your own play and they are all cool guys bringing back the times when we had big parties going on at lake in the Odenwald (that’s were I am original from) with computer freaks from all Europe. This lake hasn’t seen such an crazy international crowd ever again.
LR: What kind of equipment do you use?
Horst: In1988 I was an apprentice at Bosch to become an electrician, so I built my own joystick board with an Arcade Stick and fire button.
Getting my hands aking from joysticks you can buy nowadays, I pulled it up from the basement, implemented a fresh stick and button and it feels great again. That is japanese arcade quality: A stick from 2010 fits in any arcade chassis from 1988, so it fits in my board… !
LR: What do you expect from the WC in October?
Horst: I really hope that I can join the tournament to see the leading guys from other countries to play as well as the German players I have not seen in action before. Hopefully they will find a mode where players of similar strength can play more games against each other to learn and improve before they hit the masters (only a master of evil darth, if you strike me down I will get even bigger… can’t remember the excact words, even I watched it 20 times…).
LR: Have you ever played Kick Off on the Atari ST and if not, what is your relationship to Atari?
Horst: Never played it on an ST. We Commodore supporters did not get in touch with the Ataris often but from time to time we compared the games on our systems and after Commodore and Atari were going down we had one common enemy: These fucking PCs with no soul, were you always had to buy new hardware to get your new game running smoothly… Even today I only play on consoles, never on a PC (except emulators of old systems). Today I love the old Atari stuff (2600, 7800) as I once loved my Amiga but never got in touch with Atari computers at all. I would say Atari is the mother of video games and I admire the guys from the first generation around Nolan Bushnell but did not care much about anything released from Atari by the Tramiels. I find it quite funny that today some people are still picking a fight on which system was the better one. If I think about Jay Miner, I know we had the same roots anyway… wasn’t it Steve Jobs working for Nolan as well?
LR: Do you like real football?
Horst: Yes, I played football when I was young and watch every game of Eintracht Frankfurt. I have a ticket for the whole season.
LR: Which 3 retro games you like most?
Horst: That depends on the system really: A2600: Pitfall, Missile Command, Hero, A7800: Centipede, Commando, Galaga, Amiga: Turrican 2, Apidya, Kick Off2!… and so on. I have my top 5 on each system up to the current systems, so it would take a day to compile a list. These games are just a glimpse.
LR: What are your plans for your Kick Off future
Horst: To play some tournaments localy and hopefully find the time to even go abroad some day.
As I only train vs. the computer from time to time, it is not so easy to improve my game play. It would be quite helpful if I can play a few tournaments with players on similar or slightly higher level, so I hope the scene will grow and we have tournaments with more and more players.
LR: thanks for this interview and good luck for the upcoming tournaments