Gaming

Soccer Story (2022) Review (Switch Web Store)

Shot on Nintendo Switch (handheld/without dock)

It’s quite a normal part of the gaming industry when a sudden hit defines a subgenre and in the process inspires a number of similar games. When Golf Story arrived on Switch in 2017, taking the role-playing slant of Game Boy Color’s Mario Golf and pushing it in new directions, it set the tone for lighthearted storytelling and whimsical take on the sport; Thus, Soccer Story inevitably took inspiration from and applied similar ideas to its own interpretation of the beautiful game. We’re not making comparisons as a criticism, and indeed the developer PanicBarn makes his own jokes and confirms his reference sources. The question then becomes whether Soccer Story has enough of its own ideas and quality of execution to be a worthy addition to this sub-genre of pixelated comedic sports adventures.

Answer? Yes, it is, although with some reservations.

The overall history of Soccer Story is charming, though not particularly creative or surprising. Evil “Football Corporation”. it’s a rather clumsy satire of FIFA wanting to own and control football, or football if you will. A great final match led to “disaster” and a worldwide ban on football; your brave hero (you can choose between twins) lost his father in the process, but wants football back. Thus begins the quest to convince the animal heroes to play again while participating in tournaments and improving the abilities of their team.

Soccer Story Review - Screenshot 2 of 4
Shot on Nintendo Switch (handheld/without dock)

Much of your time, as in the aforementioned History of Golf, is spent No to play sports, at least in its formal guise. You have a magic ball and you explore the world, complete side quests, and generally kick the ball around. You visit colorful, charming locations where the world is relatively small but full of quests and items to discover. The action also has a decent amount of variety, whether it’s hitting a target, solving simple puzzles, or sometimes scenarios that offer a throwback to other games and genres. However, as you progress, repetition occurs, and the structure of the story falls into this trap to some extent.

The scheme for each area is basically the same: arrive, find out why the teams aren’t playing football, run errands to help those teams, and then play them in a mini-tournament. It’s a minor complaint, as start to finish feels a little too familiar as you move between areas (down to the frequently reused lines of dialogue), but overall the world is individual enough to guide you along.

Real football, whether it’s 5v1 or even 1v1 games, is ambiguous. In its simplicity, this can be fun, though we found that we either win easily on medium difficulty or sometimes win “cheaply” on hard; at least you can change the difficulty on the fly. The gameplay here is very simple, even after some additional abilities are unlocked later in the quest.

Soccer Story Review - Screenshot 3 of 4
Shot on Nintendo Switch (handheld/without dock)

The biggest disadvantage is the goalkeepers; they either horrible or outstanding ones with serious AI deficiencies that allow some pointless long shots to be scored. Soon you will end up doing a messy mixture of punches and jerks. gegenpress to win, and it’s not always particularly pleasant. Not that we think it’s worth the time, but it’s also worth mentioning that there’s a “Quick Play” option that lets you play locally with friends. After all, real football matches are quite competent, but the most interesting thing about this title is – ironically – not on the field.

Luckily, most of your time is spent off the field on the aforementioned quests, exploring every nook and cranny in the process. There’s a sizable cast of NPCs to be found here, decent humor and lyrics, and it’s a pleasure to just run around the world.

On the technical side, we have a bit of a mixed situation, but mostly positive. The overall look is excellent, the pixelated and voxel images are paired with beautiful art designs, some of which look like a crisp HD version of the visual styles that are typical of the DS/3DS era. The visuals are good, although we recommend that you ignore the Quality setting in favor of Performance; the former only adds unnecessary extra shadows when lowering the framerate, but the game looks good and runs pretty well on the latter setting.

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Shot on Nintendo Switch (handheld/without dock)

However, we encountered some technical glitches. We stumbled upon a game-breaking bug in our original build, but luckily it was fixed in a patch released on launch day. Even on the updated version, we ran into a few crashes, although the generous autosave meant we only lost a minute or two of progress. In addition, the game tends to have short pauses and hitches at random times, apparently related to resource streaming or autosaving in the background. Is not too much often, but you will probably run into this and some other small bugs. The sound and soundtrack are also a little average, but ultimately not a big factor in how much you enjoy running around the world and exploring it.

Overall, this game doesn’t live up to the quality of the title it openly cites as an inspiration (even the menus and fonts are very familiar), and Sports Story – the official sequel to Golf Story – is coming to Switch soon. However, Sidebar Games sets the bar high and this is also the case when Football The story is full of heart and obvious passion from the PanicBarn team, leaving us with a reasonably entertaining look at the subgenre with a quirky football twist.

Conclusion

Soccer Story offers a colorful and charming version of the “sports adventure” that is bursting at the seams thanks to the serious efforts and care of the development team. It’s a fun experience, though it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the genre’s most famous release. Bugs and hitches also pop up occasionally, but if you’re looking for light fun and love football, its cute visuals and charming world are well worth checking out.




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