Game Over Online ~ Soccer Kid

GameOver Game Reviews - Soccer Kid (c) Krisalis Software and Teque Software, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Soccer Kid (c) Krisalis Software and Teque Software
System Requirements Pocket PC
Overall Rating 90%
Date Published Monday, June 10th, 2002 at 08:42 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Soccer Kid takes place in 1994 during the World Cup championships. Fans around the world are awe-struck when an alien named Scab descends upon the finals and whisks the World Cup trophy away. In escaping, the alien nemesis crashes into an asteroid and the cup breaks into five pieces, scattered across the Earth's continents. While others bicker, one young soccer-savvy child is unwilling to stand by and traverses across five locales to retrieve the World Cup trophy. This, admittedly, is a whimsical premise for a platform game but it is this whimsical attitude that crafts this title into a subtle and charming action game.

Of course, when I first heard of Soccer Kid, I was ready to give up. I know absolutely nothing about soccer. So the thought of a platform game (my Achilles heel) and soccer together was a particularly daunting review. But Soccer Kid's wit and charm are universal, making it easy for anyone to get into. Soccer Kid plays out as a traditional platform game. You progress from left to right, jumping over obstacles and attacking your enemies. In Mario, this was with mushroom power-ups. In Soccer Kid, your method of attack is the soccer ball, which the protagonist dribbles along with you. Your ball works wonders on the various obstacles and impediments you encounter. Using a variety of soccer moves, you can aim and launch your ball at enemies before they do you harm. The course of the game takes you through England, Italy, Russia, Japan and the United States letting you see the sights as well as collect a fixed requisite of eleven soccer cards from each locale. Upon completing this, you'll be inducted into a bonus stage for a chance to retrieve a missing piece of the World Cup and you'll meet half a dozen boss-type enemies.

Beyond that, there's not much more to Soccer Kid's quest. The fantastical story merely gives you an impetus to take rein of the protagonist. If the levels and backdrop behind Soccer Kid were simple, the actual controls, on the other hand, are much more sophisticated. When I said the young protagonist was soccer-savvy, perhaps that was an understatement. While many platform games consider ducking and running special traits, the soccer-savvy child has over a dozen special moves including some soccer-centric ones like flying headers. You can do a variety of stunts with the soccer ball but the moves, while listed on the website and instructions themselves, are pretty hard to master. The basic controls to move around and kick the ball are simple enough. The developers have even included a virtual pad for PDAs that suffer from that impediment. It's easy to get a hold of but hard to make effective and with experience, you gain appreciation of its depth. This is how intuitiveness should work with games. It should be simple to grasp but with constant playing (not learning) you should become more effective. That's what happens in Soccer Kid. Through using a variety of combos and moves, you can make the soccer tike perform a myriad of special moves that are great for show. Since each level is timed, special moves are opportune in accruing time bonuses at the end of a level.

The visuals needed to pull off these intricate moves are wonderfully portrayed in Soccer Kid. The animation, particularly in the interaction between the protagonist and the ball, assume a high standard. Each locale is also vibrant with color and the backdrops are easily identifiable. If you're in Russia, for example, you won't mistake yourself in Japan or the United States. England is another very distinctive look, drawing upon the many cliché design motifs and local landmarks of London. These portrayals are not realistic but again, reflect the fanciful and light-hearted attitude of this title. Soccer Kid's latest version supports two display modes. One is with a virtual pad at the bottom of the game screen. The other is completely full screen. Both modes run at a brisk pace, reinforced by the speedy parallax scrolling. However, of the two, I certainly preferred the full screen mode best simply because the increased real estate was not only pleasing to the eye but also helped with gameplay. Few games these days actually have the visuals working in tandem with the audio to draw up a cohesive picture of a world. Techno music in a real time strategy game, for example, seems completely out of place to me. It may be there for shock value but there's nothing that beats a matching score. While Soccer Kid features no rousing symphonic success, its soundtrack exudes the whimsies of the game's other components, making the whole corpus an elegant synthesis of what we've come to expect from top tier platform games.

The only flaws with Soccer Kid might be with its replay value. After you've mastered all five locales there's nothing much to do other than try to beat your old scores. You can finish the levels in a shorter period of time with your newfound prowess at soccer but there's nothing substantial to push people to play this game again. Maybe it would have been better for Soccer Kid to win or acquire these special moves, instead of granting them all at once. Another minor flaw involves the full screen display. Without reading the documentation, you'd find it hard to get to the menu screen that is prominently seen in the alternate display mode.

These are only minor blemishes on an otherwise excellent game though. The game, despite its content, is incredibly tiny on your PDA. It measures less than two megabytes. Should an expansion pack emerge or there happens to be some way to extend the longevity of this title, Soccer Kid would surpass many of its spiritual predecessors. The soccer ball, at first a horror to me, quickly became second nature but this also implies there is a learning curve, particularly to those easily frustrated with platform games. They may not be able to find all the charming and witty anecdotes found throughout the levels, much less appreciate the subtle depth of the controls. Soccer Kid really rekindled a lot of fond memories of NES style platform games, not necessarily Mario and its ilk but more of the Japanese ones. The delightful soundtrack and rich vivid backdrops were the best representations of this, par excellence. If you have any inkling of patience for a subtle game, you'll be able to appreciate this and I wouldn't be surprised if Soccer Kid grew into a cult classic. It certainly deserves that much of a credit.

[09/10] Addictiveness
[18/20] Gameplay
[15/15] Graphics
[09/10] Interface/controls
[10/10] Program Size
[05/05] Sound
[05/05] Discreetness
[10/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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