Developer: Gamevil USA, Inc.
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

I have a confession: I played soccer all throughout grade/high-school and loved it. But when it comes to just watching the game on TV, I can’t do it. Unless I’m in there, soccer is simply not exciting enough to hold my interest. The same holds true for hockey, although I’ve never played it. I just can’t get into watching it on TV.

I bring this up because the best, most addictive, sports games I’ve ever played were soccer (on the NES) and hockey (Sega). Remember the scene in Swingers when Sue and Trent (Vince Vaughn) were playing hockey on Sue’s Sega and fighting over Trent’s gloating/ability to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed at will? That scene was a perfect recreation of me and my friends on any given night during that game’s/console’s peak popularity. Not because we were “Super Fan number #99,” but because we loved playing the game.

Furthermore, while I’m not a fan of soccer, I am a fan of well-developed, fun, sports games and Soccer Superstars meets all the criteria possessed by its successful predecessors; and more.

Graphically, the game’s cartoon-anime stye actually adds a refreshing element to the game’s depth (not to mention the genre) that helps deflect the intimidation factor of typical technique-heavy sports games while appealing to players of all types and ages. But, not without a price. The game play’s depth, combined with the many on-screen elements, will no doubt initially confuse and/or frustrate players. However, thanks to the keen minds at Gamevil, who no doubt forecasted this phenomenon, the game features two modes of play: Semi-Auto, the default mode, where your players move automatically, allowing you to focus solely on passing, shooting, etc. and Manual, which allows you to control your players. In addition, the game contains a built-in interactive tutorial which, once viewed, will have you playing the game with ease in either mode.

Soccer Superstar’s sound track consists primarily of one catchy main menu track typical of what you would expect of a game with RPG features/elements. The game’s sound effects are well done: The cheers of the crowd give you the feel of playing in a packed stadium and executing offensive/defensive actions, such as kicking the ball, executing a tackle, etc. are crisp and integrate very well with all other elements of the game.

Game Modes

Soccer Superstars features 6 different modes of play:

  1. Cup Mode
    • Features five different championship cups in which players can compete to win.
    • Winning or placing 2nd or 3rd will earn you a trophy, which can be viewed in your trophy collection.
  2. Dramatic Mode
    • In Dramatic Mode, you can replay the greatest matches in history.
  3. Exhibition
    • Select a team and compete against any other team (70 total).
  4. My League
    • Consists of 33 matches spanning two tournaments: Gamevil League and the International Cup.
    • Allows players to develop their personal player (players begin as a forward in the first season) from a first-person viewpoint.
    • There are 33 matches in My League mode. Gamevil League and the International Cup are the main tournaments of the mode.
  5. Season Mode
    • Players are tasked with winning a championship playing as the manager of a team, through 13 seasons.
  6. Recent Match
    • Continue or resume a paused game/match.

On-Screen Display

Soccer Supertars’ control scheme consists of a virtual joystick, emblazoned with a transparent soccer ball logo and three buttons: A, B and S.

The top, center of the game play screen displays game/match time, the current score and playing teams.

The active player’s name, position and dash gauge are displayed to the left of the center display, while the same information for the opposing team is displayed to the right. The dash feature is used by holding down the virtual joystick or one of the three buttons, depending on the move being executed (offense and defense). Using the dash feature depletes the gauge and, once depleted, must be filled prior to using the feature again. Fouls and yellow cards are also displayed in these sections.

Active players are indicated with a blue arrow, which also shows the active player’s attacking/moving direction. The blue arrow also indicates the condition of your player and will change as the game progresses. A low condition will decrease the player’s abilities, e.g. dash feature, etc.

Open players eligible to receive a pass are represented by an orange triangle. Conversely, opposition players are represented by a cpu icon.

At the bottom of the screen is a mini-map of the game. A player’s team is shown in blue, while the opposition is indicated in red. The controlled player is represented by a yellow box and the ball is displayed by a white cross.

Controls

As stated above, Soccer Supertars’ control scheme consists of a virtual joystick, emblazoned with a transparent soccer ball logo and three buttons: A, B and S. In semi-auto mode, the virtual joystick, while present, isn’t used unless the player decides to override the mode and take control of a player using the joystick. Players can abandon the use of the joystick at any time, at which game play will resume in semi-auto mode. This feature gives players a great amount of control over the players on their team, allowing them to control players manually at will, while re-entering semi-auto mode by simply releasing the joystick.

The virtual joystick is used for manual dribbling (simply move in the direction you want to dribble). In semi-auto mode, players dribble automatically. Dashing is executed by holding the joystick down in the desired direction of movement.

The A and B buttons are used on offense/defense to pass and steal the ball from opposing players. Holding these buttons down will initiate a dash, causing the player to move faster (on defense) or pass a lob shot (on offense).

Super shots are executed with the s button. When a super shot is available/activated, the upper left screen will display/blink “super shoot.” The number of super shots are also displayed on the right of the blinking indicator. In order to execute a super shot, players need simply to tap and/or press and hold the S button, for stronger, faster shots.

On defense, players can steal the ball from their opponent two different ways: Chase the opposition by holding the A button down to apply pressure on the opponent to steal the ball. Simply catch up to your opponent and basically run into/over him while pressing A and that little orb of air is yours.

Players can also use the B button to execute a sliding tackle. Be careful though, as executing one wrong will result in a foul or card. Timing is key.

Super Players can launch a super shot by simply pressing S. When an open shot becomes available (to super and regular players) the S button will blink. The game begins with 4 super players (two of which are locked), each with different attributes and each possessing a different super shot.

During my time with this game, I found the virtual controls to be very responsive. Their placement did not interfere with or inhibit my game play; quite the opposite.

Player Attributes

A major feature of the game’s RPG element is the set of attributes assigned to players and the ability to increase these values, e.g. via training. Each player has four attributes, with values generally ranging from 300-700:

  1. Kick
  2. Speed
  3. Tech: Technical skill
  4. Stm: Stamina

Game Play

Prior to starting a game, players can manage several aspects of their team and play strategy, such as substituting players, viewing opposing team information/players, setting formations, tactics and offense/defense balance and general match settings, such as stadium selection, quarter length, difficulty mode, etc.

I must admit, when I first started playing Soccer Superstars, I was intimidated by it’s depth. However, after viewing the tutorial, I began playing and had no problems serving other teams.

The semi-auto option, combined with the ability to manually override a player, gives me a greater amount of control over players than what is offered in similar titles. In addition, the anime-style graphics lend themselves to a fun, satisfying game play experience; more so than other comparable titles. While Soccer Superstars’ feature-set is very deep, it’s developed in a straightforward, pick-up-and-play fashion, with the casual user in mind. The great thing about this is that it shouldn’t be a turn-off to hardcore soccer fans; rather, the game play should draw them.


Conclusion

Soccer Superstars is well developed, fun and challenging. The amount of control the developers at Gamevil give players over pretty much every aspect of the game, combined with the fun, arcade-style game play give it great replay value. In short, whether you’re a soccer fan or not, you’ll enjoy playing this game over and again. I certainly am.

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