A Clumsy Volley
HIGH The match dynamics.
LOW Trick shots.
WTF That live action dub.
The arcade sports genre has been in decline since Super Mario Strikers — or if I’m being churlish, SEGA Soccer Slam. Simplicity seems hard to apply as games have got bigger. Sports devs have focused on simulation or split off into indie projects — ‘Boomshakalaka’ seems hard to find now.
Enter Street Power Football — a joint by SFL Interactive and Gamajun, based on the real-life sport of Street (freestyle) football. “Soccer”, to you Americans.
SPF is played mainly in third person and offers a variety of different disciplines – a QTE-based dance mode, a Trick Shot mode that plays like billiards, a Panna Cage battle mode that’s about controlling the ball and scoring points through goals and QTE-offs, Elimination mode where there’s ten seconds to score a goal, and finally, more traditional 2 vs 2 or 3 vs 3 matches.
Most of this is introduced through the single-player campaign under the premise that they’re is a brand-new street-level player who’s come under the guidance of one of the sport’s superstars. Players begin and then are required to move through different cities while proving themselves in each discipline. The mechanics are introduced gradually through tutorializing pass-then-shoot moves, supers (yes there are specials), and things like curve shots.
The campaign made me think about new strategies by introducing challenges – use specials, use trigger super shots, and so on — to complete alongside the main objectives. Unfortunately, like a chain, SPF is only as strong as its weakest discipline.
The Trick Shot mode (where the player is required to hit soccer balls at targets in a 3D environment) is fiddly and hard to predict, and the camera options it offers to aid these shots are less helpful than the standard camera angle. Worse, early challenges require the player to curve shots at targets, but the curve shot is a microcosm of the mode’s awkward, unpredictable controls with results that are wildly varied when shot from almost identical angles.
The rest of Street Power Football is incredibly entertaining, and it’s clear that a lot of care put into the animations. A personal favorite is when a player has a clear shot on goal and no one near them to stop them — the character will get down into a plank and push the ball in with the side of their head.
Less fulfilling is the local multiplayer. There are a number of one-off events that can be played cooperatively or competitively. They’re good diversions the first few times, but the 2 vs 2 and 3 vs 3 are begging for a tournament or league mode that would give the content more legs — it’s a glaring omission filled by pretty much every sports game that’s come before. On top of this, the camera isn’t suited for handling extra players and often fails to properly show the action for all involved.
Street Power Football is a good start at recreating an arcadey style of sports that hasn’t been common for a while, but this package needs further polish and a little more depth.
Disclosures: This game is developed by SFL Interactive and published by Maximum Games. It is currently available on PS4, Switch, PC and XBO. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the XBO-X. Approximately 7 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. 3 hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E and contains Users Interact and In-Game Purchases. This is about football and only about football — there’s nothing worrying here.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game is fully playable without sound. The text cannot be resized, nor can the color be changed.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable, including the Y axis.