Having been an avid fan of the original Soccer Balls flash game (which can be found elsewhere on this site), I was eager to see what TurboNuke could do with the sequel. The questions I had primarily were: could they bring in any new exciting features to the game? Could they differentiate the scoring system, as to make it more challenging? Could they retain its user-friendliness?
Another, less important question I had was could they improve the sound effects? The original had me checking background windows to see if there were adverts open, as was the strangeness of the cheering and the almost seaside-sounding effects that accompanied the visual!
The answers? Well, let’s consider…
Gameplay and control
Well before considering the gameplay aspects of the sequel, we need to consider what made the first version such a popular flash game. Released in 2010, Soccer Balls entered the fray as a football game for all fans, moving away from your average football game based around penalty taking and the sport itself, to the ‘physics puzzler’ genre that has become so popular in the mobile gaming world. Based around a level-mode format, the game included features such as passing, switches, timed switches and moving platforms, as the player attempted to move through the 36 increasingly more difficult levels. How? By knocking the referee with the ball, that’s how! No goals were needed for the Soccerballers!!
This time, however, goals are incorporated into the game…and then some. Soccer Balls 2 is played out over the same amount of levels, although this time they are of a larger size with functionality, with the referees being joined by opposition players, defined to your choice. The game goes further than even John Lennon could imagine, with features including crazily uneven turf, cannons randomly sprinkled about the field, giant footballs, timers, magnets, and opposition players bopping about whilst your team tries to deflect the ball of their heads into the goal!
This is not to say that it is chaotic. There is a method to the madness, and the onus is on the player to find the right strategy to get the ball in the net in the minimum amount of kicks possible. This becomes particular difficult around level 6, but not difficult to the extent that it is impossible. Anything but, and thankfully the game allows you to try and try again without penalisation. And failing that, you can click on the ‘Walkthrough’ button to find out the strategy for yourself. “Simples!”
Underpinning this exciting game play is the menu which is very user-friendly indeed. Along with an option to play the original, you can change the language and the team you play as – and play against. These teams can be defined either by choosing the preset option or editing the kit and team name yourself. This can be done for the preset teams anyway, which makes the ‘design your own’ option a little bit pointless…but then again, it could easily be missed first time around.
On the PC, the football is controlled simply through the mouse – the objective of which is to get the ball in the goal in the minimum amount of kicks possible. The scrolling levels make it easy to aim and control power with the kick – an arrow and tracking line is provided to assist the player. Then it’s simply a matter of using the left mouse button to shoot! The question is, what do you shoot at? Scoring a goal isn’t as straightforward as one playing your average penalty-taking game would hope – this is a physics puzzler after all. The temptation is of course it to shoot down the referee straight away like in Soccer Balls 1 – but this will cost you a life, so be careful (of course, on most levels it is necessary to do so). Another consideration is collecting the coins and trophies – which enable you to unlock extras such as larger-sized heads! “Larger-sized heads?” I hear you ask?! Well, of course – these aren’t ordinary footballers. They are Soccerballers, who can bring the ball down on a dime! This is in fact a cracking control feature, as it provides versatility to the player in varying the power control – you can chip it softly or blast it as you please – just don’t hit it off the screen, because that will lose you a kick.
In summary – predict, pass and shoot – sooner or later you’ll finish the level!
The good, the bad…and the not-so ugly?
As a fan of both football games and puzzle games, Soccer Balls gives the best of both worlds. The sequel is extremely good fun to play and challenging at the same time. There is ample opportunity to get the ball in the net – the number of kicks varies in accordance with the difficulty. Furthermore there are a number of achievements to accomplish – gold coins, trophies and the ‘heads’ all become sought after playing a few levels!
The only criticism I have of the game is that when on your last kick, the attempt ends immediately if you do not score straight away. This can be frustrating if you’ve set one of the giant footballs in motion and it’s on its way in!!
This game is an absolute gem which will have you playing for extended periods. Don’t worry though, you can break off – the game saves as you go along (providing you don’t delete your cookies). And a word about that music – the Latin American menu music they use is infectious! And the drums in the background are a lot more subtle than the original. Should be interesting to see what’s chosen for the third installment…
We give Soccer Balls 2 a well deserved 9.4/10