Oct 5, 2010

Soccer Superstars

Soccer Superstars was released a couple of weeks ago and back then I promised a review. It's taken awhile because this isn't a simple game, but it's finally complete and serves as part 2 of our 'Soccer Tuesday'.

Soccer Superstars is an arcade oriented soccer game. It reminds me a lot of the feel I'd get from the old NeoGeo sports games. The characters are cute (and small), the music is invigorating, and the action can be frantic. Soccer Superstars starts with a nice tutorial that first explains the various screen elements and then proceeds to explain the controls. I was hoping that I might be able to use my DPad for controls as I really think tactile feedback is important for this kind of game. After excessive experimentation is appears that the N, K, and L keys acts as the onscreen S, A, and B buttons and the DPad controls my player. Unfortunately I can't change that and the N, K, and L keys are too close to my DPad to make this useful. So I'm basically stuck with the onscreen controls and the fact that my fingers drifting from them causes a periodic interruption in my play. One compensation the game makes is that your player can dribble the ball without you touching anything. Just point in a direction and he's off. Holding down the virtual DPad in a direction simply gives the ball dribbler 'super speed'.

The graphics are nice although the play elements are a bit too small and the audio is excellent. The game plays smooth. The controls are fine for touch screen based controls. I've reviewed too many games and criticized many for not supporting my hardware DPad and keyboard. The same applies here and I won't rehash that aside from saying "We're NOT iPhone owners... some of us have hardware DPads... please let us start using them."

When I first played Soccer Superstars the action was frantic. I didn't have time to think or plan a strategy for moving the ball down the field. It was a barrage of shots against me with some going in my net. I checked the options for skill levels and none were to be found. Ah, but there is a speed option. I cranked that down more to my liking and would have to say it's the equivalent of choosing among various skill levels. Now the opposition moved more in line with what a rookie could handle. I gave up a goal in the first half, but was able to net two of my own in the second including one on a penalty kick. Time to move the speed up a notch as that gave me just what I needed to start gaining some comfort with the controls. All in all Soccer Superstars plays a good game. The one thing I didn't like about it, though, was that it is always selecting the player closest to the ball as my active player. I'd be running down the field and wham I'm over here and now I'm over there and... as the opposition dribbles and passes down the field. I wish there was an option to allow me to choose when to toggle to the player nearest the ball instead of the game.

The thing about Soccer Superstars, though, isn't just the game itself which is very good indeed. It's the massive amount of options you have. You can play a single exhibition match, you can play in a league, and you can even be a player that you developer over a period of seasons much like the consoles do. There's a lot of depth here for the soccer fan and you can tell where 'World Cup' should be used, but isn't, presumably due to licensing issues much like a football game with 'NFL' left out.

qrcodeSure, there are things that could be improved upon. And yes, it's among the higher priced Android games at $4.99 (and that still ticks me off when I see the iPhone version is $0.99). But all things said and done this is a fantastic soccer game and perhaps the best on Android (not that there's much competition). It has a great tutorial to get you started, quick play if that's what you want, lots of depth if playing a season (or series of seasons) is up your alley, plays well, and they even added App2SD support recently so it is being supported as needed. 5/5 stars.


  1. How does it compare against FIFA10 (and/or Real Football)?

    While I appreciate your annoyance at the lack of D-Pad support, bear in mind that the vast majority of Android devices don't come with a D-Pad but with (originally) a trackball or (the majority now) a trackpad. Additionally, most developers prefer to remain as device agnostic as possible, to ease porting between platforms, which often means going with the lowest common denominator. I suspect that we won't see support for hardware controls in the majority of games for a good while yet.

  2. As for comparisons to FIFA and Real Football, I have played neither so far. Real Football wasn't in the Android Market last I checked and I'm unwilling to purchase Gameloft titles direct from their website as that will only encourage more fragmentation. And when I tried to get FIFA it, too, was absent from the Market although it has since returned. Hopefully I can get a FIFA review out soon.

    As for the D-Pad support issue...

    Yes, certainly companies don't want to go through any extra effort and want to support the lowest common denominator because it's more work for less reward. That's why console add ons usually fail... devs want to support the larger installed base that just owns the console itself.

    But in this case they HAVE supported such controls... just poorly. All they had to do was allow for remapping. Ok, that would require a whole screen that an iPhone doesn't have, but even an option to choose keys that are on the left or right side of the keyboard would make more sense and that would be relatively easy to make invisible for iPhone owners.

    I don't think my request for hardware D-Pad support is asking for much from a 'premium' developer.