Strange Field Football from Wildbus Studio is a colourful football game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Just for clarity – when I say football in this review I am referring to soccer i.e. the kind of football where they actually use their feet, not the kind of football where they use their hands… Anyway, join me as we see how it plays!
In Strange Field Football (reminder: soccer) you can pick from six different five-a-side teams made up of various characters, and each character comes with varying strengths and weaknesses. You choose to play in one of six arenas and are pitted against one of the five other teams (of your choice); and then the chaos begins. Each match lasts three, four or five minutes depending on what you choose, plus overtime if required. Obviously, the target is to score more goals than your opponent, however you can get up to some dastardly tricks to make this easier for yourself.
There are some quite funny attacks to use on the opposition such as shoulder barges or aiming projectiles at them, and there are also some environmental hazards; for example in the bus garage playing arena, a bus will periodically pass through and run people over (in a non-violent way). This all adds to the hectic confusion as you try and edge your way towards the opposition’s end of the pitch and get that elusive goal.
However, there are some limitations with the game that restrict the enjoyment a little bit. The AI is very, very frustrating; the game resembles a bunch of real-life five year olds playing football; you know, when they just put their head down and run towards the ball. Every time I watch little kids play football, they just all run after the ball in one massive herd (no offence to any five year olds reading this), and the same thing happens here. Even the players on your own team seem to run around aimlessly, which means you’re often left with no one defending the goal through no fault of your own.
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The goalkeeper AI is also infuriating – sometimes your goalkeeper will save a tame shot but other times they will jump over an identical tame shot and the ball will slowly roll into the net. Also, despite there being different teams that have players with differing statistics and abilities, there doesn’t appear to be any discernible difference between each team that I could notice. The poor AI just exacerbates this because these two issues together make for a pretty samey experience and you just find yourself button mashing hoping that the ball heads in the right direction. I wasn’t expecting this game to play like FIFA or for it to feature tiki-taka passing-heavy football but it’s a struggle to put together basic passing moves because of the aforementioned issues; it all just feels a bit random and happenstance if you score a goal rather than filling you with the sense of achievement that you should be feeling.
Graphics / Sound / Personality
The graphics are simple but have a certain blocky charm to them which is colourful and easy on the eye. The music is catchy and fits the 16-bit look of the game. In general, the aesthetic of the game is probably the strongest element for me. The developers have done a great job of creating environments to run around in and open a can of whoop-ass on the opposition, and it’s a shame there are so few gameplay options to keep you coming back for more.
Being from the UK, I’m a huge football fan and have often played football video games throughout my life. However I’m not a purist with football games, so whilst I enjoy FIFA and Pro Evo, I also love some of the novelty football games of years gone by like Super Mario Strikers. When seeing the demo for this I was instantly excited – it reminded me of Mutant League Hockey (MLH) on the Sega Genesis whereby you spend almost as much time concentrating on how to eliminate the opposition than you do on scoring; MLH was basically one of the official NHL games but with mutants and booby traps on the ice. Mutant League Hockey was itself the sequel to Mutant League Football (for clarity, I now mean American Football i.e. the gridiron stuff... this is getting confusing) and both were wildly awesome. So I was kind of hoping Strange Field Football would be just as fun. It’s certainly got that same level of wackiness which is entertaining, but it lacks any kind of depth. You can only play one-off matches and this game would really have benefitted from some sort of tournament mode, perhaps with some story and character progression as you advance through said tournament. But without this kind of depth, the game gets quite repetitive and the replay value drops as a result.
Final Score: 58%
Strange Field Football had potential but unfortunately, the poor AI and lack of depth does let it down significantly. However, it can also be quite funny, especially during some of the more chaotic situations that evolve on the pitch. I would recommend this if you wanted to have some short-term entertainment and love football games that don’t take themselves too seriously. This game does what it says on the tin; it provides a short, sharp, comedic football experience but if you’re wanting anything more than this, then probably best to explore other football titles.
Thank you for checking out our Strange Field Football Switch review, thank you to Wildbus Studio for the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
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