It’s rare that hybrids of juxtaposing genres work. In fact, I can’t think of a memorable game that fits the bill. Accordingly, will Soccer Story rise to the occasion and be a guiding light for other strange concepts? Sadly, I doubt it, but its zany plot and interesting characters keep the action ticking along nicely.
Developed by PanicBarn and published by No More Robots, this is a sport and RPG crossover. As such, it attempts to incorporate a competitive edge into its weird narrative. Furthermore, there is a levelling system, an array of quests, and some nice pixel art to admire along the way. However, there is this niggle that I can’t quite shift. Sadly, the action has a repetitive edge, and the sports elements never quite shine. Therefore, it doesn’t fulfil its potential, and that was disappointing.
Soccer Story has a dramatic plot.
Though Soccer Story has some wayward ideas, its dramatic and occasionally lighthearted plot works extremely well. It has been a year since “The Calamity” and the downfall of soccer as the world knows it. The idea of soccer (football) has been banned, and the thought of kicking a ball around a park is frowned upon. However, one day, a magic ball attaches itself to the protagonist, and the adventure begins. This unlikely hero will bring soccer back to the masses while taking down the brutal corporation, Soccer Inc.
The dramatic plot allows the developers some creative licence. Accordingly, they took full advantage as every task and quest involved football-based skills. Whether you are dribbling around cones, finding secret goals, collecting goods, or destroying drones, you’ll use your magic ball and your skills to complete each job. On top of this, your band of misfits must challenge an array of whacky teams to compete to become the champions of the world.
Disappointingly, none of these tasks is difficult, and the action suffers because of it. Sadly, the minor twists in the gameplay loop do little to inspire you to play this for long periods. As such, you’ll tackle this in bitesize chunks to ensure you don’t tire of the core concept.
A magic ball and upgrade medals.
Though the action plateaus early on, I enjoyed the magic ball and the blend of football-based tasks. Moreover, though the matches weren’t challenging, I liked its fast-paced antics that broke up the monotony of the gameplay loop. Alongside this, you’ll earn medals for every task you complete. These are used to improve each player in your team, and this makes a massive difference when playing with tougher opponents.
This was an excellent decision, as you could tailor your team to your play style. What’s more, it was great fun having a rapid and brutally strong team that bulldozed everything in sight. However, what was odd was that the developers locked certain skills behind a progress wall. As such, you had to complete elements of the story before you could improve these abilities. Consequently, this was a frustrating decision by the developers that held the action back unnecessarily.
This approach also impacts the gameplay flow. For unknown reasons, there are tasks in the opening areas that cannot be completed for some time. Subsequently, once you have upgraded your strength, speed, and so forth, you can return to mop up the additional quests. In theory, this should be a good idea. In reality, it is dull, as it enforces you to traverse each region multiple times.
Soccer Story is delightfully pixelated.
I wasn’t that impressed with the action, but the visuals were fantastic. If you love old-school games and classic RPGs, you’ll adore Soccer Story. Its colourful and rough appearance was great to look at. Moreover, the varied backdrops, basic sprites, and retro text bubbles were all incredible. Though it doesn’t test the power of modern consoles, I appreciated its dated style and the nod to classic early console gaming.
This classic approach was continued with upbeat songs and shrill sound effects. The jovial music and the blend of tunes match the emotion of each scene. What’s more, the crowd noises and the associated sounds during each match were great. Accordingly, PanicBarn has done a great job with the audio.
Soccer Story has a simple control system to ensure that it is easy to understand and play. Furthermore, thanks to its excellent tutorial and basic UI, you’ll master the fundamentals immediately. With an array of shots to use and some simple passing options, you’ll complete each task with ease.
The developers have attempted to inject life into the game by including a fun multiplayer option. As such, you can play with up to 3 others as you play soccer in each of the colourful stadiums. On top of this, you can choose your team and players from the eclectic characters you encounter. Other than this, the action is repetitive and can only be enjoyed casually.
Soccer Story had potential.
PanicBarn delivers a colourful game that is full of zany characters. However, its repetitive approach and constant back and forth undermine it from the off. I liked many of the ideas, but its limited depth holds them back. Consequently, I am on the fence, even though it is free to play on Xbox Game Pass. Sadly, I can’t recommend it, but more information can be found here! Can you bring soccer back to the masses? Use your magic ball to complete each task and win every match you compete in.