Soccer Up! (a.k.a Football Up!)
WiiWare | EnjoyUp Games | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now | 500 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk; Wii Remote (sideways)
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25th February 2012; By KnucklesSonic8
From the Main Menu, players are given four main options. You can head to the World Cup for a four- or eight-team elimination-style tournament that you can approach on your own or with up to three other friends. You can also select Exhibition for a standard one-on-one match, head to the Controls area to view explanations on the two control schemes, or select Training to just play around on the field with no real objective in mind. The game is played either with the Wii Remote held on its side, or by using both the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk. It doesn't really matter which one you use because the button layouts are pretty simple in both cases. Players are able to perform low and high passes, sliding tackles, and change the team strategy in terms of the formation of players on the field. You're given all the basic moves you need for both offensive and defensive play.
When you start playing the game, it'll become very evident that EnjoyUp Games didn't take themselves too seriously in the development of this game, and in like manner, they're expecting players with a knack for unrealistic sports titles will admire Soccer Up! for its comical approach to the popular game. By the way the camera is positioned, players on the field look almost like they were based off of small toys or something because of their somewhat miniature size. The stadium environments in this game look basic to the point of bland, with nothing appealing about them whatsoever. You're only given two locations to choose from, and neither setting does a good job of setting the stage for the gameplay that is to follow. The only thing I actually liked was the fact that some of the side banners read "Fair Play"; okay, it was pretty stupid, but it somehow made me laugh. There's something very light about what's presented here. You don't have an overwhelming of features, things to learn, or even special techniques to remember. Soccer Up! keeps things simple, and its innocence is actually kind of refreshing if you've been exposed to hardcore sports titles. Despite that, this light-hearted approach doesn't end up playing out quite the way they planned.
You'd better be ready when you press the A Button to start the match, because it will start right away; the players on the field won't even have a foot resting on the ball, waiting for you to react. No, the ball will already be in motion. This was the very first clue that foreshadowed the lack of care put into other areas. Not long after getting into it for the first time, you'll quickly come to realize one of the game's biggest flaws. Their means of allowing you to control teammates on the fly has nothing to do with button presses to change the active player. The game uses an automatic player-switch system that feels really, really sloppy and is about as productive as a back and forth scramble during a fire alarm. Because of the constant, unexpected switching of players, oftentimes when you try to do a sliding tackle, it'll end up being performed by someone else you weren't even controlling when you pressed the button. The game just happens to switch to someone else as your active character is about to perform the desired action. At one point, I was controlling the goalie during a penalty kick, and I got called out by the referee because, for some stupid reason, one of teammates did a sliding tackle at the same time I jumped over to one side to block the ball.
Ball control is another area where the game really falters. Before getting into the match, you're given a choice of two settings: Beginner and Professional. With the latter, you'll have an "after kick" which basically means that the ball will be some distance away from you as you dribble it along the field; with the former, the ball remains closer to you. In either case, there's a real lack of finesse and this actually gets in the way of having a good time with the game. Any kind of skill you slowly acquire as you learn the workings of the After Kick feature is always being interrupted. Because of how quickly (and somewhat unfairly) rivals can catch up and totally overtake you, passing is indirectly emphasized as the key to success, but when the system lacks any kind of accuracy, real concerns start to come to fore. In these and other ways, it can be said that even the AI does not meet up to a certain standard, so coupled with a flawed system, playing on your own quickly becomes a frustrating experience.
Recognizably, this was probably done in imitation of other inspired sports titles where the damage dealt by tackles is exaggerated for a certain effect, but seeing opponents go flying in this game as you do a slide tackle is just hilariously unrealistic. As a matter of fact, I had a surprising amount of laughs with Soccer Up! despite my frustrations with the poor nature of the core mechanics. The straightforward announcer was actually one of the reasons behind me smiling at times. Hearing him yell "Foul!" as an opponent fell to the ground with an audible grunt was kind of funny. I almost pictured my character saying, "Yeah, and stay down!" Strangely, you're allowed an unusual amount of fouls in this game, and it took a while before the referee (who, by the way, isn't even seen on the field) even called me out on it. Plus, seeing a crude drawing of a creepy-looking older gentleman randomly appear on-screen took me by my surprise. I also found it hilarious that instead of using the words "bonus time" or something similar for any leftover minutes, the announcer said "Injury Time!" as though everyone had to now purposely hurt other players as a regular segment in the match. When playing with friends, depending on the level of seriousness of the person you choose to play with, there are a surprising amount of reasons to laugh about (or rather, at) the game -- mostly because of how bad it is.
On other occasions, those laughs were replaced with sighs of frustration or me shaking my head in disappointment over incredibly silly mistakes. The most obvious of these is the fact that the in-game timer keeps going even while players are setting up for a free kick or are making their way over to the edge of the field for a corner kick. So much for allowing time to prepare. When it comes to throw-in's, apparently the game doesn't think anything of you throwing the ball back into the end zone you picked it up from. And I couldn't believe it when one of my players received the ball after a goal kick, but the goalie ran after him and kicked it past the sidelines with full force!
There are also many instances throughout that reflect a lack of solid effort in the programming of this game. I saw balls going through barriers, balls getting stuck on the top of nets, and players looking like they're having seizures with jittery glitches. I swear if it's not one thing, it's the next with this game! Beyond that, there was a case where my active player continued to run around on the field as everyone else runs off the field at the whistle. In another case, the whistle was blown during a throw-in, and the opponent was just left standing there on the field before he could even make the pass! Again, despite the fact that none of this should ever happen, it made me smirk when it did. I couldn't tell if EnjoyUp Games did this intentionally to say that they'll make us laugh any way they can without actually caring about gameplay, but whether it was intentional or not, this actually prevented me from having an even more negative attitude towards the game.
Soccer Up! is one of those games that's unintentionally funny because of how bad it is. Seriously speaking, almost nothing about it works well and there are plenty of mistakes with the game design that ultimately prove fatal. Although I had some laughs at the expense of the game's totally incompetent execution, Soccer Up! is too flawed to recommend. Ultimately, this will serve little purpose beyond looking like a major blemish on the developer's portfolio.
09/30 - Simply Awful
Gameplay 2/10 - Sloppy execution, passing and ball control are especially flawed, poor player-switching system, lacks finesse and accuracy, simple controls
Presentation 3/10 - Environments are very bland and unattractive, miniature characters, crude drawing of a referee, a number of programming glitches
Enjoyment 3/5 - Surprisingly funny despite how flawed gameplay is, easy to laugh over the game's mistakes, comical approach, flaws lead to frustration
Extra Content 1/5 - Tournament-style gameplay through the World Cup option, multiplayer functionality, worthless Training Mode, nothing else to speak of
Equivalent to a score of 30% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System