Sep 27, 2012

Goalkicker: modest, satisfying, and perfect for Grand Final weekend

Just before the 2012 AFL Grand Final, a modest iOS and Android game proves that sometimes, all you need in a videogame is something satisfying to do.

Here at Crikey, I like to write about games that have a particular sense of style, or that have a well-thought out, even intellectual reason for being. Usually, that places the kind of games I write about squarely in a kind of arts-indie bracket, which is not one that I’ve chosen particularly, but is rather the area that the things most interesting to me often end up (I have, to give a contrasting example, praised LA Noire as one of my most favourite games from last year, and still stand by that).

However, sometimes, a game doesn’t have to be about style, or about sprawling narrative, or even about polish to be good. Sometimes, just getting one simple action to feel absolutely perfect is all you need.

Goalkicker is one such game. It is not beautiful, it is not particularly intellectual, and being an AFL-based game it surely has limited appeal north of Sydney. But in its own way, it is supremely satisfying.

The game is simple: you’re taking a set shot for goal in an AFL match. Swipe up on your iOS or Android device’s screen to kick. Alter your kicking style between punt, torpedo, banana, and dribble, and try and avoid blocked areas to make harder kicks. There’s a challenge mode, which takes you through an increasingly difficult set of kicks with only a few lives, and a time attack mode. There’s multiplayer, of which pass ‘n play works well, and online seems to be vastly underpopulated to the point of being unplayable.

And that’s essentially the crux of the game right there. Yet the tactile and rewarding feeling of aiming, kicking and scoring has meant that over the last two weeks that I’ve been playing Goalkicker, I’ve returned to it nearly every day.

It’s an exciting debut game for Melbourne-based studio Funked Out, and it serves as a timely reminder that sometimes, all a game needs to be interesting is just something satisfying to do.

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