With an ever-increasing amount of titles on the Switch-a system with a targeted emphasis on community play, there’s a treasure of local gameplay to be had. More than ever, party games have gained critical popularity for people looking for something new to do and spending more time in their living room. This isn’t a new goal for one of Nintendo’s systems, but it certainly is giving indie developers a platform to share their shot at a party game.
At its core, Strange Field Football is more party game than anything else, and that’s where the game plays best.
Retro Style and Feel
Strange Field Football is a 3D style retro animation football game with up to 4 local players. The screen scroll of the frantic 5v5 games move just like any classic beat ’em up, and actually kind of plays like one in some instances.
The quickest of glances at the game’s design conjures the feeling of old handheld sports titles, and for a good reason. The animations, movement, and to a certainly sought after effect, music, all remind me of a sports game I’ve played on my Gameboy Advance in the back of the car when my sibling wouldn’t share the one cartridge of Frogger we owned. Predating that even, Strange Field Football is a game you could tell me is a remake of an old arcade cabinet title I’ve never heard of, and I’d probably believe you.
Strange and Without Rules
The gameplay is limited to a single match, either local or against the AI. The goal is easy enough to guess; score past the opposing team’s goalie to win the game. That’s about where the similarities to real football end, thankfully. The rest of the game is a madhouse of knocking other players over, dodging moving trucks, and in general friendship-testing chaos. Each character comes with their own skills and strength that is best served, either knocking out enemy players or attempting to outrun them.
As mentioned, the game is simple in its scope to provide a chaotic multiplayer football frenzy. After all, it’s much easier to score a point if you’ve battered your enemies into a moving bus from atop a bird in flight. Strange Field Football does a great job making every moment feel like a chaotic table-flipper that could change directions at any given moment.
The Good and Dated
After spending a good deal of time playing through every level and testing the opposing team’s AI, I got a pretty good feel for the game’s flaws and strengths.
One of my most significant issues was that in my experience playing the controls felt a bit floaty. I spent a fair amount of the time knocked down, which felt slow for a game that moves at such a quick place. There wasn’t a lot of explanation of how the mechanics work outside of some controls, but they’re simple enough to figure out in a couple of frustrating matches.
Unfortunately, the game doesn’t have the same level of excitement during solo play. The AI is challenging at first but then relatively easy to trick, score, and repeat until unceremonious victory. This is hard to hold against the game, though, as it is so clearly meant to be played with friends. Going into this as a fun little couch party game is how most people will have the best experience, I’d imagine.
While I found the controls and AI to be a bit lacking, I was impressed with maps. The blending of moving objects in a classic 2d space looks neat and offers exciting platforms to pull off some stunts. The levels are where this game showcases its best design. Moving ships and shifting crates keep things from being static and contribute to the turbulent Football experience. Testing each new map and seeing what I could get away with using the objects presented was where I had the most fun. I’d be interested to see Wildbus studio use this same level of mechanics and design in something with a bit more Interactivity.
Strange Field Football is available now digitally for Switch via the eShop.