Originally released as a mobile game five years ago, Kickerinho World: a freestyle football-simulator, where your goal is to become the world’s best juggler, now comes to everyone’s favourite portable console.
Featuring over 34 different tricks, Kickerinho sounded like – for me and my gravely uncoordinated comrades – somewhat of a minor power fantasy.
What I wasn’t expecting – masked within the familiar colorful mobile game aesthetic – was such a degree of challenge that Kickerinho has to offer.
The nature of challenge:
Challenge is something that is altogether welcome in gaming. It is relative; where some games offer multiple degrees of difficulty, others – like the Dark Souls series – mostly stick to their ‘intended’ difficulty, where it is up to the player to ‘git gud’.
I am slightly ashamed to admit that during the initial tutorial for Kickerinho the label ‘Dark Souls of juggling a football’ did come in and out of my mind – a few more times than socially acceptable.
Kickerinho isn’t easy. Mastering each skill requires you to carefully utilise the Switch’s trigger buttons. Timing has to be precise, and whilst this did keep me coming back to the game regularly, there were times where it felt like I had timed it perfectly, but the game just wasn’t very responsive. Especially when trying to head the ball.
That being said, it felt great when I did manage to pull off some of the more high-level skills – despite it feeling like more luck than skill.
I appreciate having to learn precise inputs, but I found that during my time with Kickerinho, there was just so much inconsistency in terms of whether I pulled the trick off or not, and this made a sense of progression feel less than tangible.
The game does have customisation options and unlockables that aim to reward taking on the various challenges that Kickerinho offers, which is always a bonus.
That being said, unlocking new maps was a disappointment, as the colourful yet lifeless backdrops do little in the way to shake-up gameplay.
A new platform – was it necessary?
One thing that is immediately apparent is the extent to which Kickerinho World has been designed for mobile. The game excels in short and brief gaming bursts, but during a longer session, the clunky controls and lack of variety hamper the experience.
The absence of annoying add pop-ups trying to lure you to the latest microtransactions is definitely a strength for the Switch port, however, there isn’t anything else here that would make the Switch the more favourable choice. Add in the inconsistent feedback from the control scheme, and what you have is a port that feels subpar to its mobile counterpart.
A lack of gameplay variety, challenge that is induced by the control scheme rather than intelligent game design and just an overall more inferior port makes Kickerinho World a tough one to recommend; even for those like myself who dream of having crazy tekkers. Better lace them boots up and hit the local park instead.