The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

Go Go Beckham! Adventure on Soccer Island

I don’t like football, I don’t care for the sport, I don’t care for the culture that surrounds it, and I especially don’t the people who play it, becoming millionaires in a few weeks by running up and down a field. I ran up and down a field and had a heart attack, not a grand and a supermodel girlfriend. I’d kill for a grand and a super model girlfriend…or just a few pounds and a regular girlfriend…or some company…WHY DOES NO-ONE LOVE ME MOMMY? WHY DOES NO-ONE LOVE ME?

Of course, because people like football and some people like video games, the scientmaticans people put the idea of “why don’t we make football video games?” NO, BECAUSE IT’S A STUPID IDEA! But of course, no-one listened to me and now we have a new Fifa game out every year. These, alongside football managing games are mostly wish fulfilment for children who always wanted to play for Manchester Rovers or Tottenham Hotplate or the Dallas Cowboys…wait, something’s wrong about that list, I don’t think the Dallas Cowboys are in the Premier League this year… and act as basic simulations and for the most part are fairly well made, simple to execute, blah blah. Now, Scottish developer Denki, had an alternative take on the football game.

Go Go Beckham! Adventure On Soccer Island is…wait, what? An entire game based on David Beckham? Why? Who would make a game like that? Even Michael Jackson didn’t have the ego to…oh wait, never mind. And there’s that title that screams both bizarre bad Japanese translation and cheesy 16 bit platformer, but if this is a David Beckham game, surely it’s not a cheesy 16 bit platformer…it is? ****.  To be fair, considering David Beckham is basically a brand now, like that rapper who keeps changing his name I think its P. Diddy Kong at the moment, so he has his face on most products and advertisements and charities to sell crap and aid, which brings in the mullah for him and his talentless wife and will allow them one day to buy their own country…which will be called Soccer Island.

Anyway, whilst I wish that was the opening of the game, we’re left with Beckham just showing up on said island and being told what to do by an elderly manager guy. I’m really not the biggest fan of David Beckham and was really not looking forward to playing as him, but I was quite pleased to see his little sprite pretty much looks nothing like the guy, he looks more like a combination of Bonk and Charlie Brown in a football strip and looks pretty cute and innocent, to be honest you could probably take Beckham out of the title and called him like, James or whatever and the game wouldn’t be any different, Beckham’s name is purely there to sell the game.

And then we move onto the gameplay itself, the game is a 2D platformer, but it mixes up the clichés of “move right, jump over pits, kill enemies, reach the goal” with the simple addition of having to carry round a football. You automatically carry it with you when you touch it and press B to kick it, which can collect you coins, jewels and kill enemies. How can it do that? Magic. No, that’s the explanation, talk about lazy writing… But that’s not the point, it helps the game feel fresh and gives it a more unique approach to platforming, in a sort way like Yoshi’s Island did by making the main character invincible, but not Baby Mario.

In fact, comparisons to Yoshi’s Island are validated here, Soccer Island very much feels like it, kicking a football is a bit like chucking the eggs, except with less control and the addition of headers and the graphics seem to be heavily inspired by it, except not as pretty. But then, no games as pretty as Yoshi’s Island. Except maybe Superman 64…I mean Braid. You could replace the soundtrack with that of Yoshi’s Island and it’d fit really well, not to say the soundtrack isn’t bad. It’s on the right side of catchy, it’s light and bouncy, but not annoying.

The real downside comes from its difficulty, it’s not a hard game, not by a long shot, but there’s enough extra collectibles to keep you busy after you’ve completed the story, which is a nice touch, especially when you consider a lot of easy shovel ware will just give you the bare minimum. But calling it shovel ware is an insult, this really isn’t shovel ware at all, it’s a surprisingly well made original platformer and ironically, I think the David Beckham branding probably hurt its sales more. I’m not saying that Beckham isn’t popular, he hardly plays the sport anymore and gets invited to royal weddings, but looking at the box, it really would turn off gamers from it; a cute picture, celebrity endorsed game wouldn’t be looked at twice, now if it was called something like “James and the magical rock” with a more Japanese anime style cover (bear in mind, a lot of posters will just outright lie to get your attention) It might have gotten some attention and people will see it for the fun game it actually is. If you hate football, a lot of the football bits can be glossed over anyway and doesn’t detract from this more original take on the platformer. It’s not amazing, but it’s really good fun.

Huh, a whole review without moaning that the game should be called “Football island” Guess I don’t get bothered by petty things like that anymore…OH GOD I’M SO ALONE, I’M GOING TO GO DROWN MY SORROWS IN WHISKEY AND COKE!

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