Soccer Knockout is a simple game that accurately represents the competitive spirit of fans of the different countries playing in the World Cup. More often than not, you’ll find deeply devoted and loyal fans that will sing praises of their team’s wins, and cry mournfully, or angrily, at their losses. Ginja Games developed this game with a strong and healthy understanding of this nature of World Cup fans.
Soccer Knockout is a freestyle football (or soccer ball) juggling and shooting game, where players must keep the ball off of the ground and shoot at different targets on the streets of Rio. There are 5 tutorial levels that help players understand the controls, and then 7 levels that follow the tournament matches of whatever country the players choose to follow. The targets in each level are the merchandise and mascots for the opposing team, sporting the colors of their flag, and each successful strike leads to a goal made by the team the player follows. Anytime that the ball hits the floor, is popped, or is otherwise lost to the player, the opposing team scores a goal. Players have about 90 seconds to get through the level and shoot the ball into the net at the end.
The controls are simple and easy to get used to, especially after the tutorial. Players simply tap the screen to send the ball anywhere. Tapping below the ball juggles it and keeps it in the air; this will also keep the ball moving forward or back depending on what side was kicked. By tapping the ball itself, the player can kick it straight forward. Players can also shoot the ball by tapping above it, launching it towards that spot the player tapped. Players will also have to “catch” the ball as it bounces off the wall and returns to the player, otherwise the ball will be lost and the player will have to start again at a checkpoint.
The game uses simple 3D graphics to help with creating a sense of depth within each level. The ball’s movement is fluid, and it’s easy to gauge where it will go and where each kick will take it. These reactions are based on a well-developed, and realistic physics engine. The targets also have some interesting elements, such as a tearing and tattering effect on flags, and a rag-doll effect on mascots once they’ve been knocked out.
Soccer Knockout has neither a story nor a varied soundtrack. Players simply destroy more merchandise, somehow helping their team score goals and eventually win the World Cup. It’s unrealistic, but it’s that kind of thought-process and behavior that drives soccer fans. There’s really only a single song in the game; an energetic and upbeat Brazilian Carnival song that plays on the menu and when players hit a green eye that opens and creates moving targets. The level itself has no music. The only sounds come from the ball and the cheers and groans of the crowd depending on which team gets a goal.
The game isn’t very long at all with only 7 levels, each something a player can easily finish within 90 seconds. Each level has at least 15 targets that will offer a goal. Getting all of them in a single run offers a decent challenge to players. By finishing the level with a higher number of goals, the player is awarded with a bronze, silver, or gold medal, similar to strategy-based puzzle games.
The pace of the game is completely within the control of the player, making it easy to get used to and fun to learn. It’s also fulfilling that the controls are so responsive, and the merchandise and mascots have entertaining reactions when they’ve been hit. The game starts to get a bit difficult when barbwire is introduced in later levels, which can lead to a ball getting popped easily. This forces players to take their time and learn to control the ball a bit more carefully. Otherwise though, it doesn’t take long to beat this fairly casual game.
The game is innovative by itself. There are many games that let players shoot and score goals, or even play in a FIFA World Cup match, but I hadn’t seen one that let gamers play from the perspective of a fan. The game is also innovative in the fact that players have to juggle and keep the ball away from the floor, effectively keeping it in play even as they navigate through the mazes on some levels, shoot targets, and bounce off of the wall to avoid other obstacles. With this in mind, the game requires constant focus from the player, and can lead to a lot of fun.
The game is available for iOS at just $0.99, and for $1.16 on Android. It’s a short game, but the price point is reasonable for the amount of gameplay you can get out of it. Each level is basically the same, which might suggest repetitive gameplay, but it’s difficult to juggle and shoot the ball in the exact same way as before. Players might find that each replay of Soccer Knockout is easier, but not the same.