Stickman Soccer doesn’t take itself seriously and it’s all the better for it.
Price: $0.99 / £0.79 (Launch sale price)
Size: 91.6 MB
Platform: iPhone & iPad
There’s plenty of soccer games on the App Store, but decent ones are relatively hard to come by. There’s also the issue of who it’s aimed at. The likes of FIFA have cornered a market in realistic gameplay, complete with accurate player and team names. However, it’s very European-centric and may not appeal to those across the world looking for some fast and sharp kickball action. Enter Stickman Soccer, which sits somewhere in between the two, though probably leaning towards the latter.
Stickman Soccer 2016 is actually the second in the series, coming in a couple of years after its initial debut, which proved popular thanks to its smooth and fast gameplay, but also because of its simplicity. The Stickman games are virtually across the sporting board now, including basketball, ice hockey and football. They all focus more on gameplay than accuracy, with rules thrown out the window in favor of flinging a bunch of stickmen characters around a pitch, or a court to score a bunch of points.
Though it’s introduced a France 2016 cup-based competition in the run-up to Euro 2016, and it includes German and English league teams (though not the actual team names as rights are expensive), the gameplay has removed a lot of nuance to focus on the fun. As a result it’s pretty easy to score leading to far higher game-scores, while it’s also pretty impossible to commit a foul (though you can give away penalties if you’re particularly malicious with your slide tackle in the box), keeping the ball in play and removing a lot of the stop/start nature of modern soccer. It’s far easier to have a quick game, or pick it up from the start without knowing the rules of the game.
So, where does it differ over its predecessor? This is an interesting one. Despite the game’s purpose being to keep things simple, in order to justify the refresh, developers have added new gameplay mechanics. These include things like fouls, penalty kicks, long passes, headers, and corners. The introduction of these doesn’t appear to overcomplicate the game, and compliments it quite well. Though, some of these work better than others, we’ve been seemly unable to actually score penalties yet, and fouls only seem to apply when the player is in the penalty box.
Overall, the gameplay in Stickman Soccer 2016 is fluid – but only really when you have the ball. In pure arcade football-style, you can run rings around your opponent and finish it with a great smash into the top corner, but when you’re defending your goal, it’s incredibly difficult to actually do this with any modicum of grace. The controls are based on two buttons and a joystick, both onscreen, and the function of the two buttons changes depending on if you have the ball or not. When you’re defending, one of these buttons is for switching the player you’re currently controlling. This is where gameplay falls down – the switching lags far behind the action, and isn’t entirely logical – a lot of the time we found ourselves in control of a player behind the action, rather than in front, which made little sense as they’d be entirely useless in the defensive situation.
Aside from this, the game gets a ‘party-mode’ which allows multiplayer fun. However, this local play is all via one device and involves taking turns against a computer opponent. It’d be great to play others device to device. But then we don’t want to overcomplicate things. In conclusion, Stickman is a great refresh on its predecessor and is another wonderfully fun and well-designed addition to the Stickman canon.