Clearly inspired by the cult classic ‘Sensible Soccer’ from the early 90s, Super Arcade Football immediately scores on the nostalgia front.
Developed by OutOfTheBit Limited studios, there are many aspects to this game that feel heavily inspired by its popular predecessor. From the parody team and player names, to the visual design and overseer pitch view, it is clear that this game has been made with a lot of love.
Finding a home on the Nintendo Switch, this game has definitely got something to offer for Football (not Soccer) fans.
A proper arcade experience:
As you might have gathered from its title, Super Arcade Football moves away from the recent trend of more ‘realistic’ football simulation that mainstream hitters have adopted. Instead, the player is provided with a dedicated arcade experience.
Matches themselves are short and sweet, with a simple control scheme only demanding the use of two buttons to move, dribble, shoot, pass and perform satisfying crunchy tackles.
The ball has this tendency to glue to the players feet, meaning that intercepting an opponent’s attack, and dribbling to the other end of the pitch can be done in one fluid motion. This invariably leads to high-scoring games, which helps keep the action interesting despite the relatively simple mechanics.
This simplicity feels well attuned to the Nintendo Switch, as the game generally plays incredibly smoothly. But you’re not going to see a wide array of passes or shots here, like you’d see in Fifa. I did score a few decent long shots and headers, here and there, but animation variety is unsurprisingly limited.
Such a simple set-up demands variables to keep things interesting the more you play. Well, how about some thunderstorms? No, too tame? Okay we’ll just throw in some meteor strikes or maybe freeze the pitch in complete ice. The various modifiers that you can apply to matches keep the experience interesting, and the action absolutely frantic.
Add co-op and online to the mix, as well as a solid soundtrack from Barry Leitch (who has produced for other games, such as Top Gear on the SNES) and what you have is a really fun ‘drop in and out’, arcade experience.
One way that Super Arcade Football differentiates itself from other similar games is with its dedicated story mode. When you load up the game you’re immediately thrust into the story as Martin; your average football fan who stumbles upon the fact that his beloved local team, Balarm FC, are about to go bust.
A chance encounter with legendary manager, Old Joe (another parody character), provides the set-up for the story mode. Through some very simple, tasteless interactions (fat jokes galore), you soon acquire the club for the lofty price of £1.
That’s it. You’re now the proud owner of the club, manager and hopeful orchestrator of the team’s new found success.
Your goal now is to work your way up through the various divisions, as you also battle with wealthy local rival, Snakesfield FC (seriously, with a name like that, how else were they going to be?).
The story is on the simple side, but the comic-book cutscenes and character designs are charming enough, even when the interactions feel juvenile. You have different challenges in the matches, such as scoring three or more goals, or having over 50% possession, which will affect your star rating at the end.
Where this mode did disappoint is with the absence of any real tactical considerations. Yes, unsurprisingly – in a game that features all sorts of ridiculous weather ailments – tactics don’t really factor in deciding a game all that much. There really isn’t much ‘management’ involved in this mode, and beyond the brief cutscenes, there isn’t anything else to distinguish it in a meaningful way from the other game modes.
It would have been nice to have the chance to make some more meaningful decisions.
That being said, I still did enjoy my time with this game. The chirpy music, graphical design and simple gameplay all combined for a genuinely charming experience. Whilst the story mode fell short for me (especially with some of the obnoxious writing), it was nice to see something different, and where the gameplay does lack in terms of complexity, there are a number of crazy modifiers that spice up the experience.
If you have some friends to play with, or are just looking for a more casual football experience, then Super Arcade Football provides a solid offering at a reasonable price.