Soccer Puzzle League Review

If you have come here expecting to read a review about a fully-fledged soccer game, prepare to be gravely disappointed. That’s not to say Soccer Puzzle League (out now, $0.99) is bad. In fact, it’s really good. It’s different to many other titles on the App Store. It’s not your typical ‘play-for-5-minutes-then-quit’ type of game. This game requires your attention, particularly at the beginning.

IMG_2460When I first launched Soccer Puzzle League, I immediately knew that it was some kind of strategy game. You can argue that the whole sport of soccer is a strategy game, but this title says it outright. You’re thrown into your career from the word ‘go’. The aim is to match three or more icons together to, essentially, play soccer. I was really confused at the beginning because you aren’t told what all the different icons mean. There’s a 5 year-old me that wanted to see what everything meant, but the tutorial understandably restricts you from doing so.

The actual game, or ‘soccer match’, is where you need to concentrate. You are presented with a Bejeweled-like grid with various icons related to the sport. Gloves, balls, goals, and boots – the whole shebang is there. The tutorial is critical in this game and fortunately it’s near perfect. It takes you through what each combination of icons results in, lets you draw it, and then moves onto the next combo. If you aren’t a quick learner, expect to spend some time replaying the tutorial. Thankfully, you can access it any time from the pause menu

[bq_right]”I don’t usually enjoy the tactics and strategy behind Soccer, but this game sucked me in…”[/bq_right]

The game isn’t so simple, however. A combination of three goals reduces your opponent’s ‘Defence Point’. Once all their defence points are reduced, you score a goal. But they also have to score goals, of course. There are ball icons that have two numbers. The yellow number represents how much your DP will decrease by once the ball takes effect. The white number represents how many turns until the ball takes effect. It’s hard to explain in plain English, as you’ll find with the tutorial, but once you experiment for a few goes, you’ll soon get the hang of it. If the ball takes effect and all your DP is reduced, you concede a goal. You can reduce the effect of the ball by combining boots and the ball together. You can also ‘heal’ your DP by dragging a bunch of goalkeeper gloves together. The whole game is very nicely thought out.

The game doesn’t stop there. You can upgrade the effect of your icons by spending the gold coins you collect in-game. For example, your goalkeeper gloves can heal your DP by a larger amount. As you probably expected, there are in-app purchases to buy more gold coins. I don’t expect to buy anymore though seeing as I collect so many during the matches.

IMG_2441The music is relaxing and allows you to concentrate on the game. Its repetitive nature keeps you in the zone and focused on what your next move is. The sound effects are amusing though – when you score, the audience cheers, and when you concede, they all heave ‘aww’. They add some life to the game after long periods of somewhat intense concentration.

The loading times are extremely quick. You don’t have to wait for anything to load so you can dive right into a match in an instant. Soccer Puzzle League is also very content heavy. As the developer likes to point out in their app description, it comes with 150 equipment to buy, 16 skills to learn, and 3 divisions with 18 teams to beat. There is also a range of difficulty levels for the laziest thinker to the most dedicated – 6 levels in Challenge mode and the usual beginner, intermediate, and expert in Battle mode.

I only have one complaint about Soccer Puzzle League – the graphics. I understand the art style and what the developer is trying to get at, but the main menu and career screen is very busy. There’s just too much going on that bombards you. If you can get past that, which you should, you’ll really love the game.

iFanzine Verdict: I launched Soccer Puzzle League expecting to be gravely disappointed and really, really bored. I love playing soccer.  I don’t usually enjoy the tactics and strategy behind it all, but this game has sucked me in. I love the art style, the cute animations and sound effects, and most of all – the way the game works. It does have its flaws; you might need to revisit the tutorial a few times and the menus are a tad confusing. But overall, it’s a very clever game and deserves some recognition.