With World Cup hype reaching fever pitch, we see the release of Soccer Slammers on Nintendo Switch. The game is pitched as an arcade football title from developer and publisher Atooi who boast retro roots with a modern mojo. Atooi is the latest project fronted by Jools Watsham, of Renegade Kid fame so I couldn’t be happier to test this out being a big fan of his work.
The premise of Soccer Slammers is simply opting for fun, fast and frantic gameplay, akin to Mario Strikers series, opposed to the ultra-realistic big guns of FIFA and PES. From the main menu, you are presented with two game modes, Quick game or World Cup and a small set of in-game options to boot. The only real area for customisation is the ability to change the length of a half or the ball type used, which is just a skin change. Quick game is a pretty standard affair which is designed for 1 – 4 players and has the choice from an impressive roster of 40 teams. This comprises of 39 recognised international countries and also a super special Mutant Mudds themed team, which is a nice nod to previous works adding more fun to the title. The second game mode, World Cup, allows for 1 – 2 players to compete in the greatest tournament in world football. You head straight into the finals with the option to take control of one of the 32 qualifying teams.
Games set up is a 2-on-2 formation, controlling one character assisted by an AI teammate. For the most part, the AI is good but I always got the feeling that the opposition players were one step ahead and seemed to specifically target me. I ended up on my back far too many times after only having the ball for a second. Having said that we are looking at a game where really the only rule is to score more goals than the opponent in the allotted time frame.
The aesthetic of the game reminded me of Minecraft with a block art style look that is both beautifully basic and clean with bright colours everywhere. The game runs perfectly on the Switch and looks especially good in handheld mode as the visual is sharp. A key part of the game is simplicity and the controls are no different, the left analogue serves for directional movement which is accompanied by four different action buttons, sprint, tackle, pass and shoot. The only variation with the action buttons is that shoot can be held down for a longer period of time to increase the power, eventually reaching a point where the ball is sent rocketing passed an unknowing keeper leaving a trail of smoke in its wake. I often found the keepers were easy to beat and reacted a little too slow but all it did was increase the intensity the game was played at, which is kind of the point. While the drama and tension of progressing to the World Cup final in a FIFA game is missing here it doesn’t detract from the overall experience. Soccer Slammers is all about fast, fun, frantic action and it certainly deliveries on that front. It took a little while to get to grips with the gameplay and I often found myself at the wrong end of the pitch but with a little time spent playing it all eventually clicked and I began winning games.
Soccer Slammers is an interesting take on the beautiful game, although light on features and modes there is enough in the finished product to keep you playing. Everything works as it should from navigating the menus to scoring that all-important match-winning goal. The visual style is crisp and vivid which really looks great on the Switch. Once the game mechanics and manic action are mastered Soccer Slammers can be great fun. If you are looking for an alternative football experience that you can play in short blasts while the World Cup is on our TV’s then look no further.
Beard Score: 7/10
Genre: Action, Sports, Arcade
Format: Nintendo Switch