Like many, I was forced into competitive sports during my younger years, and I was never very good at any of them. I knew that then, and I know that now. In baseball, I mostly daydreamed in the outfield or sat on the bench, teaching myself how to juggle while other kids around me got mad and raged over things like striking out or missing an easy catch. For basketball, I did my best to stay out of everyone’s way and always passed the ball away a fraction of a second after it got deposited into my pale, weak hands. For soccer…actually, I had some good moments in soccer. Generally, I played defense, either as a sweeper or a dude that hung out near the goalie, kicking the ball away with a mighty foot; I do remember, however, taking an offensive role in one game, going so far as to even score once. Or maybe I just dreamed all that. Surely I was never any good at any kind of athletic activity…
That said, soccer in Final Trip Soccer, the number four spot from Ludum Dare 22‘s top 50 star-grabbers, is no stroll down a playing field. It’s actually your only weapon, your very chance for survival; better make sure your cleats are on nice and tight. Okay, let’s start at the start. A big soccer match gets interrupted when a UFO comes swooping in, eradicating everyone but you. Think your name is Nathan. It’s just you, a soccer ball, and an empty stadium. Here, you learn how to kick the soccer ball, which goes like so:
- Move around: Use left, right, up, and down
- Focus your kick power: Hold the Space bar down
- Shoot the soccer ball: Release the Space bar
- Control the soccer ball: Tap the Space bar when near the soccer ball
Those controls sound kind of simple, but they can be extremely frustrating. Controlling the soccer ball, which again I will mention is vital to Nathan’s survival, is a clumsy affair. If you get too close to the ball, you end up kicking it away, and generally, you are just trying to get close enough to charge up your focus power. Why? Oh, did I not mention that you have to kick the soccer ball at attacking alien blobs? Yup. Only a charged kick is strong enough to kill ’em. And with each successful screen, the number of enemies increases.
The premise and look of Final Trip Soccer are fantastic. It’s got this retro style, and the sound of charging you up your kick power will remind you fondly of Super Metroid and Mega Man X. Well, it did for me. Gameplay is a little slow, often requiring Nathan to constantly circle enemies or walk to the other end of the screen after a missed kick. I made it to the third screen, but a green-colored alien blob was too quick for me, and I was never able to get a focused kick against it. When you die, you just respawn on your current screen. I gave up after a few tries.
Final Trip Soccer is available to play via the Internet; give it a kick. And don’t let that jarring music on the start screen scare you away. And if you get farther than I did, please, tell me what happened.