This week, we’ll be taking a look at three recent soccer games that have hit the App Store in time for the World Cup, which starts next week. First up are Final Kick (free) and the laboriously titled Penalty Cup Soccer 2014 — World Edition: Football Champion of Brazil (free), both games that focus on penalty shootouts. The other is Pixel Cup Soccer ($2), a full arcade-style soccer game.
Final Kick from Ivanovich Games claims to be “the best penalty shootout.” Players switch back and forth between the shooter and goalie. Shots are taken — and saves are made — by swiping across the screen. The graphics are very impressive for a free game. In-app purchases are available, but they’re not needed to enjoy the game. There are, however, annoying features such as the game making you watch a video ad to continue playing its offline tournaments. It’s not entirely unexpected from a free game.
The game does have other issues. Goalies don’t always go quite where you want them to, and timing a save can be a bit iffy. Shooting is easier and more satisfying. Players can also rename and upgrade their team, which is a nice touch. Final Kick offers a number of special abilities and features, but it’s best to just ignore all those bells and whistles and focus on the shootout itself. The game’s not perfect, but we found ourselves being drawn in.
Playing Final Kick followed by Penalty Cup Soccer 2014 is like going from a comfortable resort to a rundown motel. Though both games are free penalty shootouts, the experience is night and day. Penalty Cup Soccer 2014 lets you pick from any of the participating World Cup teams, which is nice. But once the game starts, well, it’s not impressive, to say the least. The graphics are a joke, and the gameplay isn’t much better. When you’re playing as the goalie, the game actually tells you where the ball’s headed, but you still might dive right past it. None of this is that surprising when you realize the developer, KaiserGames, is mostly known for its free games where you put makeup on celebrities. Steer clear.
Pixel Cup Soccer from ODT is the only true full-field soccer game in the group. It’s a bit like a faster version of 1990’s Nintendo World Cup for NES, which was a lot of fun. You can pick from 16 teams representing different countries, and you use onscreen controls to move your player, pass, shoot, and tackle. There aren’t any licensed player names, but a number of players do have first names matching their real-life counterparts — Landon represents Landon Donovan on the USA, you’ve got Gianluigi for Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, and Neymar for Brazil’s … Neymar.
It’s important to pick similarly matched teams when playing Pixel Cup Soccer. Otherwise, prepare for a one-sided mismatch. That’s one of many things with the game that seem to be a bit off. The main problem is the action itself. If you’ve got a good player on the ball, there’s really not much reason to pass. There’s too much space, and the game moves too quickly. You can easily wind your way through the defense and get a good shot on net. The game ends up being a lot of one-on-all for both you and the computer. Though this is the only true soccer game, we had a bit more fun with the free Final Kick. We normally don’t even review free games, but we liked it best in this group.
Final Kick: B-
Penalty Cup Soccer 2014: D
Pixel Cup Soccer: C+