Back in the late ‘90s, gaming went through a phase that was one of my personal favorites. Extreme sports were all the rage with the likes of Midway, EA BIG, Activision (and seemingly every other gaming company under the sun) pushing out more arcade-style sports titles. We had the NFL Blitz games, SSX was coming into its own, greatness like NHL Hitz and Tony Hawk Pro Skater were all the rage. The goal was to take typical sports game, and crank the notch on believability and push boundaries on what could be done to make for an over-the-top exciting experience. Recently, we’re seeing a slight surge in this genre again, and with it comes a newly released title for the Nintendo Switch entitled Street Power Soccer; a physics defying, trick heavy game based on urban street soccer (football for the rest of the world). Will this game score a goal with players, or will the ball be left flat on the pavement?
There are really two main styles of soccer. You’ve got your super pro FIFA/World Cup core sport, and then you’ve got urban soccer that’s a lot more focused on the style of what players can do with a ball other than just scoring goals. Street Power Soccer takes the urban sport, which already is typically quite cool to watch, and infuses it with that over-the-top physics defying push to make the game something unique to jump into.
There’s a lot to learn about this game, and quite a few different modes that you’ll be partaking in. I was greeted by composited video of pro urban player Sean Garnier giving me the tutorials I would need on how to play matches, panna, trick shots, and freestyle modes. He also goes quite in depth with the history and nuances of the sport early on, and you’ll find yourself having to watch a lot of his instructional videos before actually being allowed to play anything. I felt maybe these tutorials did last a bit too long, but it was still nice to see a good production value here.
Playing urban soccer is typically 3v3, give or take. Instead of giant stadiums you’ll be playing on a barge that’s docked, or in a small parking lot in a city. It’s tight quarters and more akin to arcade based soccer titles like Mario Strikers used to offer. Gameplay is hectic, fast, and requires responsive maneuvers to both snatch the ball, and out-trick your opponents while still attempting to win the game by scoring the most goals. Once I was in and playing the standard matches, I was starting to have fun by taunting my opponents with some fancy footwork, and filling up my atypical power meter to launch some mega jump perfect goal shots that looked quite sweet. The environments and players all look fairly nice, and the accompaniment of a solid urban beats soundtrack really builds on the thematic target for this game.
Now I wish I could say that gameplay felt as fluid and perfected as a match of Mario Strikers does, however there’s quite a few technical flaws I encountered. Transitions between character animations were often times broken, and floating movements were constantly seen. While a lot of the animations are still quite cool in terms of the foot work or special moves, the game just doesn’t handle the in-betweens well at all and this ultimately keeps the game looking awkward.
The game’s main single player mode is Become King which will have you progressing through a ton of events from each of the different game modes/disciplines. The difficulty however ramps up pretty quick, and what I did find frustrating was that the rules for winning a particular event weren’t always clear to me, even while playing. Since many of the matches rely on performing tricks and not just outright having the most goals, this can become a bit annoying as there’s no in-game notifications or tracking to let you know if you’re meeting your objectives or not.
That main game mode does combine all of the other modes available, and so you are still able to go and just play each mode individually if you want. Panna is all about fancy footwork and is about the equivalent of a dance or rap battle of sorts, but with a soccer ball. I found it to be an OK mode, but it was hard to fully understand how to ace it each time. Honestly for me it felt like luck when I’d win instead of a specific skill I was performing. The Trick Shot mode is nifty. You’ll have to set angles and kick speed to attempt to knock over specific target items or make baskets with your ball throughout a street course. It’s actually quite tough I found, but a decent diversion from the regular game modes. Another mode has you playing a semi-Dance Dance Revolution styled mini-game to perform foot moves and score big. I actually found this mode pretty rough and clunky and just couldn’t get into the groove.
Street Power Soccer also offers multiplayer, however over several days of attempting to play this, I was never able to get into an online match, which was disappointing. So I was unable to try out my sweet street soccer skills against some other people.
Another notable mention within this title is the customization. You can select from any of the pros, but then go in and further customize what they’re wearing, the ball you use, etc. Currency to unlock these items is super challenging to come by, and can really only be acquired by completing the Challenge objectives, which I found to be a fair bit grindy for the small reward in currency that they would give. If you want to have the best of gear, this route seems like it’ll take ages as there’s only so many opportunities each day to earn the currency.
For me, Street Power Soccer pushes to have a lot on the table in terms of a soccer game. It tries to be a jack of all trades in this niche sport, but I felt like it struggled to shine in any one particular spot. I’d love to see some of the core matches feel more fluid and have more polish applied to them to compete closer with the likes of a Mario Strikers game, but until we see another one of those, this will have to make due for those craving a soccer game in the arcade genre.
Street Power Soccer Review
- Graphics - 6/106/10
- Sound - 5/105/10
- Gameplay - 5.5/105.5/10
- Lasting Appeal - 6/106/10
Final Thoughts: MEDIOCRE
Street Power Soccer attempts to bring an arcade-centric focused urban soccer game onto the Nintendo Switch platform. While the game does great at creating a visual and audio thematic setting for this genre, gameplay is clunky more times than not, and many of the game’s modes feel awkward and too mini-game focused. I also encountered a complete lack of polished animations that make for the standard soccer matches looking broken, and even in the home menu, my character would break from his idle animations to a standing T-Pose randomly. For a $49.99 game, there’s just a lack of polish and depth to this game.