Despite not being particularly keen on either spectating or participating in athletic endeavour, I have occasionally owned sport video games in the past. The last of which was FIFA 2000 on the PS1 , a point where the franchise was still regarded as ...
Despite not being particularly keen on either spectating or participating in athletic endeavour, I have occasionally owned sport video games in the past. The last of which was FIFA 2000 on the PS1 , a point where the franchise was still regarded as being decidedly arcadey compared to the simulation style of the rival ISS/Pro Evo/PES /whatever-nickname-they-call-it-now series If your mind struggles to hark back that far, it was a time when the fact that Robbie Williams featured on the FIFA soundtrack was a fairly big deal. I look back on FIFA 2000 with fond memories, as it (mostly) eschewed realism for accessible controls and revelled in the showmanship and excitement of the sport. My personal highlight was attacking the goal head on and tricking the keeper into diving for the ball at my feet, only for me to dip at the last second then leap over them - and simply walk the ball into the open goal while they lay prone and presumably dejected at my vindictive strategy. In the time that passed, the FIFA series got more serious and complicated, while I moved on and started going grey. But as I've touched on before , we're rediscovering a love for sports games that don't give two hoots about the banalities and baggage that come with real world sporting competition. For those like me, this is brilliant news. Who needs photorealism or the offside rule when I could just boot up Rocket League and play football using the DeLorean from Back to the Future ? The game has a sense of momentum without feeling too floaty
Enter Videoball, which came about after designer Tim Rogers was challenged by a friend to make a 'one-button Starcraft'. Lofty ambitions indeed. While we didn't end up with an RTS you could play with a doorbell, developer Action Button Entertainment have instead delivered a mashup of Pong, air hockey and Asteroids. Videoball sets its stall out early with its gleefully cheery soundtrack and cheesy enthusiastic announcer that's a throwback to sports games of old. A prime example of efficiently simple design, the analogue stick covers movement and a single button fires. Firing at the ball pushes it along, and you're able to charge your shot to up to two more levels of power. Shooting opposing players will momentarily stun them, and holding down the button long enough will spawn a solid square on the field which can be used to block. Get the ball into your opponents' end zone and you'll score a point. If you fancy making things extra hectic (which I recommend), you can choose to have up to five balls in play at the same time. The concept is as straightforward as it gets
There are no complicated rules, penalties or areas that are out of bounds. The game is pure competitive action distilled down to its raw elements, making for an incredibly accessible title that lends itself just as easily to a casual knockabout as it does an intense tactical experience, which lurks just beneath the surface. For instance, during a particularly fraught match I discovered that - with the right angle and timing - you could volley your rivals' charged shots, which opened up a whole new layer of strategy (and a satisfyingly dramatic way to score a point). With a vibrant yet functional art style, the game looks as refined as it plays, resembling a cross between a Dulux colour catalogue and those chalkboard diagrams you see in the dressing rooms of American football teams. There are also enough colour palette options to ensure even those gamers who struggle with colour blindness (like myself) shouldn't have any issues. There's a wide array of different pitch shapes
In practice, just like most real world and video game sports, Videoball is passable in single player but really hits its stride when there are other humans involved. Should you find yourself short of real world companions, empty slots can be filled by a variety of AI 'characters' each with a unique playstyle. For example, 'Brainy' will judiciously its shots, while 'Fencer' forgoes any sort of sportsmanship and will aggressively attack players instead of the ball. With its uncluttered design, finely tuned gameplay and 'pick up and play' attitude, Videoball is a fantastic slice of fun arcade sports action with a broad appeal. Bonus points for not needing a laddish ex-boyband member crooning over the menus. Platform : Xbox One , PS4 , PC Price : Â£6.99-Â£7.99
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