Today’s title is a sports one: Super Arcade Soccer. I’m not your conventional football fan. I don’t go to games, have a Sky Sports subscription or could name any player within the last 10-15 years. Football games, however, are one of my favourite games to play (gaming-wise – I punt it in real life) and I’m forever on a mission to find a decent title.

As you know me so well, I’m not a big fan of FIFA but have slowly warmed to the franchise again, taking a decade or so hiatus. Before that was the PES series, but the last few versions have put me off massively. Some of my favourites have been Sensible Soccer, the Virtua Striker series and an old Dreamcast game called UEFA Dream Soccer. Least, I think that’s the one I liked.

What makes a good football game? For my tastes, as a non-conventional fan, there are a few main factors and a couple of bonuses. Without a doubt, it has to be playable. I want to be able to run with the ball and be able to pass to my team without being intercepted or it rolling in the wrong direction. It should be possible to score a goal without tricks, but none of this multi-ball stuff or Brazil 15, Saudi Arabia 0 nonsense. The difficulty needs to be adjustable, but not stupid.

A few bonuses; I want real players, but I want the option to play classic players like Bergkamp, Beckham and Barnes (I decided to stick with ‘B’). It’s also an added bonus to play other leagues outside of the main ones. Any game with the J-League is right in my books as I get to play ‘my team’. So far I’ve been unimpressed with the football games on the Switch. The last FIFA game I played was FIFA 18. It did get a bad rap, but it suited my needs though didn’t change my life. Both the NES Online Soccer game and SNES Online Super Soccer were poor – the latter being the better of the two. Still waiting for International Superstar Soccer for the SNES… One that stood out was Super Arcade Soccer on the Nintendo eShop. There weren’t any trailers, but for the price, I added to my list and recently snapped it up.

The opposition scores a goal
Erm... I'm not the French team...


Player Roster And Lego Helmets

After that long introduction, can I endorse Super Arcade Soccer as a great title? First of all, it’s football, not soccer so that already loses points. I’m half-joking. I’m not. Next up, it’s international only, so no club teams. That’s fine as well, but no licensed players or any avatars that even slightly resemble anyone like Edgar Davids or Ruud Gullit. I told you I wasn’t up-to-date. Forget about fancy title screens and animations, Fatboy Slim or Bring Me The Horizon – you jump straight in. And rightly so, dear chap.

It’s apparent from the start that every team is exactly the same. Each team has a player that has an unfeasibly large blonde barnet that resembles an oversized Lego helmet. It’s almost like every team has their own Carlos Valderrama. Ask your dad. Not the end of the world, but if the game plays well, it doesn’t really matter that much. I’d have to say the gameplay is quite erratic. Sometimes the players glide through the defence then the complete opposite and pigeon step their way through. There’s no sprint or trick button (okay with the latter), but their speed is inconsistent, and with no stamina bar in sight, I wonder if the players are tired or if the game is simply slowing down.

The controls are basic – pass, ‘air ball’ and shoot. In its defence, the shoot button is pretty good. You neither blast it over the crossbar or dribble it into the back of the net – so that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, there are no options to be a show-off in the sense of a through ball or using tactics like the long ball or even trying to cross it in for that matter. Other than a couple of throw-ins, I didn’t once encounter a corner. Quite possibly the first time I’ve experienced that in a game. Not having any set-pieces was quite a surprise as the goalkeeper’s AI is a plank of wood. There was no option to boot it, just a weak pass to a defender, only to get intercepted by the opposition. The big deal with the keepers though is when they do kick it: the camera locks on the keeper even while the ball is in the air and you can’t do anything while it is airborne. It’s like time stands still. Really, really bizarre.

Low Key, Get On With It

Tackling can be quite hard as you can’t catch the players. First, because you never know if they’ve got enough juice in them to continue, or because you can’t select them. This is perhaps the biggest flaw with the game. Pressing L should switch to the nearest player. Sometimes this works, but mostly nothing happens. I was literally hammering the button – knowing full well it worked. Still, there were no players selected, and I couldn’t control a single one. This was really frustrating as I’d argue it’s essential that you have control over your team, right?

With regards to control, there are no tactics involved or substitutions, but you can change the formation mid-game, which pops up in the bottom corner. It didn’t have much of an effect due to player selection issues. I’d often pass to the centre and just plough through the defence and changing my direction to put the ball in the net. I make it sound like I’m good at it, but my tops scores were 3-1 really. And I like that. No game should go higher than 6 – unless you’re playing a mate in front of his girlfriend. In that case, go balls out.

Speaking of balls out – when the ball goes out of play, the process is nice and swift, and you can get on with your game. Apart from the instant replay you get after netting a goal, it’s quite anti-climatic. The camera switches to the linesmen rather than player celebrations – the same as when you win a game. You’d be forgiven if you questioned if you actually won a game. I did this with the tournament mode and managed to win it, but all that happened was the knockout screen with a flashy little title saying I won, then back to the menu. Not that I want cheerleaders, but at least give me a ceremony!

There's no fan fare to say you won, just a chart of progress
An anti-climatic tournament win

Final Score

By now you’re wondering whether this is actually any good. Considering the many flaws the game has, it’s still playable and to be honest, it does have a bit of a charm about it. Ignoring the player selection issue, the numpty keepers and the fact that the camera is static with a goal kick, it’s actually quite a good football game. Then again, there isn’t really much competition from my collection so far. Of course, this is purely based on the Switch. I’m sure there are plenty of decent titles on other systems which I’ll get to eventually.

Disclaimer: my professional career as a footballer is non-existant. My experience an amateur is null and void. A player with a gift for punting, taking out attackers shins and going to knock on the neighbour’s door with”Can we have our ball back?” – I am legend.

You may be a FIFA die-hard and disagree with my choices and breakdown of a decent football game, but you like coffee, I like beer. If you’re a casual footballer and have a lot of patience, then Super Arcade Soccer isn’t all that bad. Though get it on a sale like I did as it’s much more palatable.