Super Kickers League
Reviewed by: Joe Cabrera
Growing up as a male in the 90's, living in the UK, football was an important part of growing up. Fifa 95 playing Juventus v Blackburn Rovers on the indoor pitch. Travelling to Elland Road to watch Leeds United back in the glory days, or kicking about with my mates on the park on a Saturday morning. Unfortunately a FIFA release every single year was growing tiresome by 2005. Then, out of nowhere a certain moustachioed plumber stepped up to fill that void. Super Mario Strikers was released for the Gamecube bringing a delightful arcade vibe to the world of football gaming... And then, it all fell silent again. That was until Super Kickers League was released but with a new Mario Strikers game on the horizon can Super Kickers League hit the back of the net? Or will it miss the target?
Starting the game, you can only access Teams Mode. Here you will choose a captain for your team and then be assigned the plainest and generic-looking teammates you could possibly imagine. The thing that makes other football games appealing is the fact you can play as your favourite teams, players or in the case of something like Mario Strikers, your favourite Nintendo characters. Super Kickers League is void of any connection between the characters/teams and the player which I didn't realise was something that was vital to replayability on games like this.
The controls are easy to get used to but do include a few strange decisions. Anyone who is used to playing football games will be familiar with A being the button to pass and B being the button to shoot. Super Kickers League have switched these around. Presumably as a way of trying to make their game a little different from the rest. What it actually does though is make for a very frustrating opening few games for players who are in on goal with a clear scoring chance and you wind up passing the ball tepidly into the opposition goalkeeper's hands.
Aside from this, the controls are as you would expect. Unfortunately, their execution is less than you would expect with actions feeling a little clunky and imprecise. It's unfortunate because tight controls and precision are necessary to make this kind of game fast-paced and hectic which is where players will generally find most of their enjoyment. As a result, Super Kickers League feels clunky and sluggish. The AI are also pretty dopey. They don't make clever runs forward in order to be able to play stylish football instead they just wait around for the ball to be passed to them. Unlike FIFA there isn't a button to prompt players on your side to make runs either. To top all of this off when your teammates are off-screen there are no indicators to tell you where they are meaning if you try to make an educated guess you often wind up losing possession. More often than not you will find yourself trying to take teams on yourself because of this.
Players do have some fun special abilities which can add a level of humour to the game and even at times knock the game's intensity up a notch.
Much of this game feels like it was designed for children but not in a good way. The simplistic controls, the lack of skill it takes to succeed, the bright and colourful scenery and the sluggish nature of gameplay all lend themselves kindly to a younger audience. However, the undercooked mechanics and lack of personality in this game feel almost lazy as if the developers thought "the kids playing this game won't notice".
For a game that will cost you less than £15, it might not be such a bad thing to buy this as a time-waster for your child. Heck, you might even get a couple of hours out of it yourself. For fans looking for a genuine Mario Strikers competitor to tie you over until the launch of the next one though, you won't find it here.