While soccer games have come a long way from early iterations, there’s something incredibly nostalgic and charming about those classic arcade titles. It’s something that Martyn Bissett is looking to capture with Tiny Football, an upcoming soccer game that serves as a throwback to the early days of the sports genre. We had the chance to hit the pixel pitch and try Tiny Football for ourselves ahead of its launch later this month.
On the pixel pitch
Tiny Football lets users jump into the cleats of 64 clubs in a variety of different game modes. Friendlies mode is an easy way to run a quick exhibition against friends, while Tournaments is a more competitive gauntlet-style approach to playing against the CPU. There is also a Seasons mode for those that want to stick with one club long-term and work toward a championship. Each of the available clubs is modeled after real nations/clubs and features authentic colors and uniforms.
With its pixel art style, Tiny Football looks like it was plucked right out of the early 90s. The ball is made up of about four squares, and the players all have minimal detail. Still, there seemed to be a lot of unique variation in animations and movement. Even though the game may be visually simplified, its mechanics are anything but. I wasn’t surprised by how loyal the game was to the intricacies of soccer games. The need to competently dribble, weave passes between defenders, and set up smart shots are all present here.
Defensively, you’ll also have to be wise when going for tackles. Players naturally protect the ball, and you’ll certainly be hit with a yellow or red card if you overstep. In those instances, there are even penalty kicks, which aren’t any less tense within this retro art style. I successfully nailed a go-ahead penalty kick just before full-time, and my player ran to the corner of the pitch and celebrated as the crowd roared with joy. It was another moment that really captured the soccer playing/viewing experience.
From the in-game menus, you can adjust your line-up, moving players around to different positions and rotating players from your bench. There was one instance in which a player of mine got injured after a dirty tackle, and I had to replace them with a healthy player off the bench.
Kicking it old school
Tiny Football is shaping up to be a faithful ode to the early era of top-down soccer games. It’s clear that the developer has a strong emphasis on delivering something that fits that visual style, without making any compromises on the gameplay side. We’ll know just how that mission turns out when Tiny Football launches on November 15 on Steam.
These impressions are based on a digital Steam key provided by the publisher. Tiny Football launches on November 15 for PC.
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