Super Arcade Soccer 2021 confused me. On the first inspection, this appears to be an update, perhaps improving on some of the flaws on the original game reviewed on the Nintendo Switch. There’s been quite an overhaul in some areas that it feels like a different game. So which is it?
First of all, the show’s stars are low poly characters and I have to say that I liked them. It was pretty clear who the players were, even if there were curveballs like Loinel Misse (that’s Gabriel Batistuta if you aren’t up-to-speed on footballer names). Equally, the character animations were good too, and the overall vibe was promising.
In my first match as Barcelona versus Arsenal, albeit modified names as Super Arcade Soccer 2021 isn’t official, things got off to an ok start, dusting away those footballing cobwebs since the last game of Super Soccer Blast. This was when I noticed the bookings.
One slight lift of a cheek to let one go, and the ref was all over you. In contrast, Super Arcade Soccer was a game where ‘everyone was a winner’, and nobody was booked in fear of upsetting anyone. On the other hand, I had Messi – sorry, Misse, sent off in the first half. It appears that the developer, Ruben Alcañiz, took in the feedback and made adjustments for the better.
It was becoming clear what was off in Super Arcade Soccer 2021: the AI. Non-controlled players neither run for the ball nor effectively position themselves, and they stick to the ball like picking up soup with chopsticks. It ends up being a one-player game. That is, a player within a team of eleven, and not as a group effort.
It was time to play in the dedicated practice mode. Without any opposition, you can build up momentum without the fear of being intercepted. Unfortunately, there was no rhythm whatsoever. It was impossible to connect a single pass as the players wouldn’t run to the ball, and instead, I found myself manually selecting players like it was a turn-based game.
Players would be scattered without a single one running to the ball – even when passing their direction. In open play, it’s naturally unpredictable, but in practice, you should be able to hone your skills. It’s as if it were still in the development stage. Sure, you can play and score goals, but the key aspect in a team-based sport is to play as a team, and the AI is terrible.
The characters are great, and all look unique, plus they have individual stats applied displayed before the start of the match where you change your formations. Note that you can’t change formations in-game like the predecessor. The only option in the pause menu is to change the camera modes.
Zoom gets in on the action well enough, but naturally, it’s hard to see ahead of you, so not the best perspective. TV tends to be an organic isometric that swivels subtly depending on your location on the pitch, and normal is a static sideline view and the default setting.
When it comes to features in Super Arcade Soccer 2021, the options include the practice mode, quick-match and tournament. Besides the camera, you can also change the duration of a match, music volume and toggle VSync. Interestingly, there are no difficulty settings.
The loading screen says the shoulder button will substitute a player, but this is incorrect. It actually means select a player. There are no substitution options; likewise, there’s no fatigue or injuries to attend to. You’ll also note in the setup the omittance of sprint, through balls or dummy variants. The first two are surely essential in an arcade soccer game, right?
I’m glad that I don’t have to convey this to Reuben personally as it’s evident that heart and soul have gone into it, but it needs some tuning for it to take off. If the AI/positioning were tweaked, it would be a significant improvement. You can make up your own mind.
Super Arcade Soccer 2021 has only recently been let out of Early Access mode. I’m not sure what qualifies it as ready, though. It’s frustrating as most of the changes needed for Super Arcade Soccer have been made, but at a sacrifice to other areas in this game. The critical issue would be to improve the AI. If there were a magic pill.
While affordably priced, I’d reckon that the AI needs resolving before this could be a recommendation. Super Arcade Soccer 2021 has the potential, and there’s a niche for this kind of football game over something like FIFA or PES. Still, the fundamental aspect is teamplay, and when you have your teammates ignoring the ball, that’s pretty significant.
- Nice looking character models.
- Bookings for foul play.
- Limited angles, but ones that work.
- Player stats.
- AI is frustrating.
- Inaccurate shooting.
- No difficulty settings.
- Unable to change formation in-game.
- No sprint or through-ball option.