Football Story is an engaging role-playing adventure that builds a delightful and often goofy story around something as simple as kicking a ball. a catastrophic event causes societyEvil Soccer Inc. cer will be banned until approved by the U.S. (with some parallels to real-world FIFA), and our young hero’s father goes missing during the mayhem. One year later, a magical soccer ball crashes into our hero’s life. What comes next is an often silly and funny tale about bringing soccer back to the world, complete with anthropomorphic panda goalkeepers and an evil soccer corporation.
The players first went to Soccertown to use the Magic Ball. The city itself is a shell. The stadium is closed, graffiti is sprayed around the city in an act of rebellion, and Rogue Soccer Inc. Referees are constantly monitoring for illegal five-a-sides. Existing in a soccer-mad world is delightful, thanks in large part to its absurdity.
The main story sets Leo or Kai, depending on which you choose, on a path to liberate Soccertown, recruit teammates, and win soccer matches before moving on to the next arena. Once your team is set up, and you’ve caught the attention of Soccer Inc. by bringing soccer back to Soccertown, you head off to new areas for story missions and various side quests. You’ll visit a forest, a beach, a quaint zen zone modeled after a mythical, cherry-blossom-heavy Japan, and more as you follow the formula to enter new areas for exploration and liberation. Running through each area with your soccer ball is fun, and unlocking a gate to a new area at the end is rewarding. Zones never overstay their welcome before you move on to the next one.
The incentive to constantly seek out and complete NPC missions is huge, but you never feel overwhelmed, nor do the missions feel tedious; They’re fun and get done quickly. Plus, talking NPCs usually provide laugh-worthy comedic one-liners.
During exploration and discovery, you are rewarded with coins and medals, which can be used to upgrade your hero’s speed, shooting, energy and power. Some missions directly give you medals, and it’s important to find them for two reasons: they affect your players in matches and they affect your heroes while you’re exploring. As with any good role-playing game, upgrading your player’s stats pays off.
Several missions integrate soccer into the fun, like taking a shot at a shark to protect swimming kids or tackling crabs to save a stranded beachgoer. Shooting a ball over a crossbar simulates the real-world crossbar challenges that players engage in on pitches around the world. And some discoveries are downright strange; At one point in the Zen Zone, the game turns into a turn-based RPG while fighting giant mushrooms. These moments make Soccer Story so much more engaging than typical football works, and it constantly dives head first into its weirdness. However, some quests, such as dropping a coconut, can get annoying when you’re running in circles in search of that ultimate goal.
Once you skip the adventures and missions, Soccer Story falters. Chaos and inconsistency mar real football matches. Running around to deal with players is tiring, and shooting feels haphazard. Keepers’ shields need to be removed to increase your scoring chances, making charged shots crucial but leaving you open to defensive maneuvers while stationary.
Even after improving my main character, the goalkeepers deflected my best shots without breaking a sweat. Other times, a weak shot from across the area would float unintentionally into the goal. This lack of continuity is confusing and aggravating. Speed seems to be the only upgrade that matters, as most on-field upgrades don’t seem impressive, and losing a match after having an edge is frustrating.
There’s some sense of control, but matches can be so random it’s off-putting. I found a good rhythm of shooting from close range into the corners of the goal and killing domestic rebels more exhausting than fun, and I just wanted to be out of a match and get back to the adventure proper. That’s not a good sign for a soccer-based RPG. You also compete in several one-vs-one matches, but thanks to its basic formula, these felt more like padding than meaningful additions. The actual soccer portion of Soccer Story is only serviceable and frustratingly inconsistent, which is a bummer compared to the rest of the game.
While Football Story is a story about the beautiful game, football matches take a backseat to story and exploration. The adventure and role-playing aspect is a lot of fun, especially with soccer so integrated into the world, but the lackluster soccer matches keep this from being a truly great sports role-playing game. Buoyed by its engaging and humorous premise, Soccer Story offers a satisfying adventure and a different kind of soccer game, but don’t score a hat-trick.