Thank you Outsider Development for sending us this game to review!
Smash Soccer (or football as it's known in Europe) may be the most fun I've had on my iPhone in a long time. The strange animal-soccer mashup has you out to challenge humanity for soccer bragging rights in the ultimate inter-species soccer tournament.
Before you can dethrone the reigning humans, you have to pick one of 25 animal teams, each with unique stats, and face off against the rest of the animal kingdom to meet man in the finals. The game is spread over six tournaments and environments with challenge modes and achievements to unlock along the way.
After a short tutorial on passing, shooting and changing players, you're thrown into the game with only a touch-screen d-pad and three on-screen buttons to sprint, shoot or pass, and use power-ups or punch opposing players. The soccer gameplay has also been streamlined with no out-of-bounds and off-side rules.
While changing players and maneuvering through a crowded field can be difficult at first, you don't have to worry about a poor AI goalie letting in a crucial goal. When the opposite team takes a shot, the view switches to a first-person perspective and gives you a chance to deflect the shot.
Power-ups, like bananas and bombs, can give you the edge in a charge to the net, though it can get hectic during a break-away and I often forgot or didn't have the dexterity to make use of them.
However, the biggest problem I had with Smash Soccer has more to with mobile gaming in general than virtual d-pads/buttons. I often found movement and shooting imprecise, especially when my thumb moves off center from the directional pad and I have to stop and reorient my fingers.
While I don't look for a strong challenge when gaming on my phone, I did find the game to be too easy at times. This makes the game more approachable for younger audiences but the goalie mechanic made stopping shots a breeze. The streamlined soccer makes for a more arcade experience, but, I would've liked to have seen a more varied gameplay like corner kicks, penalty shots, or, even some team management.
The animals in Smash Soccer talk a lot of trash. From boasting pre-match to bragging after a win, it sometimes felt excessive considering the animals should really be concentrating on training to beat the humans, rather than humiliating each other. Thankfully, the tone is very light-hearted and the language is all G-rated. Punching the opposing team doesn't feel very sporting.
Most importantly, the soccer gameplay is fast and fun. With cute animations and crisp graphics, you will get a lot time on the field. And the $0.99 price tag shouldn't raise any yellow cards with your wallet.