Nintendad

[Review] Super Kickers League – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Xaloc Studios
  • Publisher: Xaloc Studios
  • Release Date: 20/03/2019
  • Price: £13.49 / $14.99
  • Review code provided by: Xaloc Studios

Life’s a Ball…

Super Kickers League is meant to be a fast-paced, score-goals-quickly type of game.  Having never played a soccer game, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Part of me thought this would be an experience that closely resembled the quick, action-oriented playstyles of an NBA Jam or NBA Street game.  I was mistaken.

Super Kickers League is exactly what you would expect from a soccer title of this name.  Your *ahem* goal is to score more than the other team. It is a 3-on-3 free-for-all with turbo and special attacks that make for some frenetic gameplay.  The game is filled with triumphant moments (when you score a goal from midfield) and periods of frustration (from errant kicks and seemingly never-ending special attacks from the computer opponent).

Football? No, Fútbol.

I mentioned that I thought Kickers could be similar to the fast-paced action of an NBA Jam or NBA Street game.  There are very few similarities between the games, such as the turbo meter and quick scoring. Sadly, that is where the comparison stops.  In the basketball games, the players control smoothly, have unique strengths, and pass the ball intelligently. In the single player Teams mode in Super Kickers League, all the players (except the goalkeeper) on a team look alike.  Granted, each team looks different from another team, but the sameness of the characters on a team is distracting. It makes it difficult to determine which player you are controlling and who you passed the ball to, if anyone. Each team has statistics such as speed, shot, technique, and strength, but it’s difficult to determine those differences during gameplay.

There is another, much more interesting mode called Kickers, hence the name of the game.  In this mode you choose a team of three characters by choosing them from all the teams you have unlocked.  There are ten teams, each with a distinctive look and unique special ability/attack. Since the stats don’t factor too much, you will more than likely choose members based on their specials and their looks.  The nice thing about this is being able to see differences among your players. This is especially useful when it comes to using your character’s special ability, but more on that in a moment.

Match-maker

Whether you play in Teams or Kickers mode, you have the ability to play a single game or compete in a cup which consists of four games in a row.  In a single game, you can choose the difficulty, length of time, location, and whether to use special abilities. It is a simple pick up and play game where you can hone your skills and see what other teams have to offer.

When you compete in a cup, you must survive four consecutive games to be victorious.  Fortunately, if you lose a match, you can try again right away. If you decide to leave in the middle of a cup, you will lose all your progress.  Although you have the option of choosing the difficulty, the time is set at three minutes for each match and special abilities are turned on. There are five cups to complete, and they are played in areas ranging from asphalt playgrounds to dusty patches of farmland.

Kicking Things Up a Notch

You may be wondering about the special abilities.  As you play the game, there is a meter that charges based on how you pass the ball and perform other stunts.  This meter can be used to unleash a devastating special ability against the other team or give one of your players a boost.  This all depends on which team your player is from. A member from the Yippie Ki-Yay squad can spin a cow around and knock out anyone who dares get close to them.  Kilroy Patrol members call upon a UFO to abduct a player and remove them from the field for a brief period of time. Another team can cause a meteor shower to rain down on their opponents when their meter is full.  Some special abilities grant the user the ability to run quickly for a short period or perform a smoke dash to break through the opposing team’s defense.

These special abilities are interesting, but they can quickly become infuriating.  In the Teams mode, you will only ever worry about one special ability/attack at a time.  In Kickers mode, you can have up to three attacks happening at any moment. In one game I was having to watch out for a UFO taking one of my players while avoiding acid rain that caused my players’ controls to be reversed.  I would have screamed in frustration if it weren’t for the fact that everyone in my house was already asleep.

Win, Lose, or Draw

In the single game mode, I turned off the special abilities and found a more enjoyable and less frustrating game.  It seemed like a game that was based more on skill and less on what junk you were going to receive from the computer-controlled team.

In addition to using the meter for special attacks (which I imagine is one of the draws for the game along with being about soccer), you can also use it to make your kicks on the goal more powerful by holding down the kick button.  Unfortunately, the longer you hold it down, the more time you give your opponent to steal the ball away which is something they do more often than not. When you get off a super charged shot that hits the back of the net, a smile will creep across your face.  It’s a feeling that you will continue to chase.

I Must Be Trippin’ (Which is a Foul)

In a single player game, it is easy enough to switch among your players.  On defense, I was always trying to switch to my teammate who was closest to the ball in hopes of tripping the opposing player (no rules or foul cards in this game) and stealing the ball.  The offensive side is more difficult. Passing between teammates is hit-or-miss. If you don’t aim correctly, the ball just gets kicked in a general direction and it becomes a free-for-all.  At least in a basketball game, your player will attempt to pass in the direction of one of your teammates. Whether or not it gets there successfully is up to the defense of the opposition. In League, you have to be lucky and aim well.  Most of the time when I was on offense, I rarely passed for fear of losing it to the other team. A few well-placed dribbles and turbo presses would have my character ready for a shot on the goal.

Super Kickers League supports up to six players in the pick-up-and-play single game mode (three for each team) and up to three players in Cup Mode.  Just make sure you have enough Joy-cons ready.

Dropping the Ball

Clearly this game is aimed a much younger audience given that the players’ heads make up one-third to one-half their height.  The fields are clean and vibrantly colored. The menu graphics are crisp and bright. That really isn’t the problem though. It’s how the characters move on the playing field.  It feels like a computer-animated cartoon that was done very cheaply. It is hard to look away and not see it, and it keeps the game from playing as smoothly as it should.

Admittedly there are nuances of the game that are lost on me.  I suppose my aiming could have been better and my passes more strategic and on target.  The game forces you to work on these skills, or it will become a battle in frustration. As they advertise, the game is, “Easy to play, hard to master.”

The sounds attempt to stir the spirits and get the blood pumping, but it very quickly becomes a distraction and a nuisance.  You will want to keep the sound effects on, however, to be warned of when your opponent uses a special attack. There is no worse feeling than setting up for a shot on the goal only to hear the faint humming of a UFO that has come to take you away.

League of (Un)Extraordinary Gentlemen

For the most part, I didn’t experience any bugs or glitches with the game.  For the most part… At the end of one of the cups, the game loaded the fourth and final game of the cup.  The playing field was there along with the ball. Unfortunately, there were no players. The screen wasn’t frozen, but it was also impossible to progress to the actual match.  I was forced to quit out of the game entirely which caused me to lose all of my progress in the cup.

Other than that issue, the game ran well and performed the same whether in handheld or docked modes.  Considering the nature of the game, handheld mode will be your go to mode for casual pick-up-and-play games, but you will want to be docked for any multiplayer sessions.

(Not So) Super Kickers League

There are a lot of things to like about Super Kickers League.  Up to six people can play locally, and you can choose from ten different teams with unique special abilities and attacks.  There are several environments and modes to choose from. Unfortunately, the music becomes repetitive rather quickly, and the players have a clunky way of controlling.  It aims for the goal, but the shot just misses outside.

Pros

  • Supports up to 6 players
  • Simple mechanics
  • Unique special attacks/abilities for each team

Cons

  • Sluggish characters and controls
  • Repetitive music
  • Long load times

Verdict
Super Kickers League is, at best, an average arcade style football/soccer game.  Quick games and whimsical characters cannot compensate for its repetitiveness and sluggishness.
3/5

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