Super Shock Football

Super Shock Football

Super Shock Football is a throwback to the old electric football tabletop games from Steamroller Studios and Chillingo.

Super Shock Football is a pretty strange game. Being based off of the table-top electric football games that originated in 1947 and reached the height of their popularity in the 50’s and 60’s it can be assumed that a large percentage of people with iPhones and iPod touches have never actually played the game.  The premise is simple enough, arrange your little players in formations (which have very little impact on the outcome of each play) and then press a button that makes the field start vibrating and moves your players in whatever direction possible, passing the ball when you feel it’s necessary.

Overall the game plays very well.  The controls felt very precise and other than the occasional bout of lag they were very responsive.  My only real major gripe with the gameplay is with the whole vibrating football mechanic. When I say that your players will run anywhere I really mean ANYWHERE.  More often than not the majority of your team will immediately head for the sides and get stuck on the stadium walls, leaving the game to actually be played by 3 or 4 players that are spinning in circles.  This can start to get really frustrating, especially when it seems to only affect your team while your opponent’s players all rush straight to the end-zone. Oftentimes you feel more like you’re watching a little league game where half the players stand around eating grass and chatting than any sort of real football.  I understand that the hectic movement is a central part of the classic table-top game, but it begs the question that if your core game mechanic is immensely frustrating then what is it doing in a game.

You’ll see this pretty often

The way to counter your team’s erratic movements is by passing the ball to any player that seems to be heading in the right direction.  Thankfully Super Shock Football features a terrific passing mechanic that is really where the game’s fun comes from. The longer the pass you try to make, the smaller the target you have to hit.  Add in the fact that you need to compensate for the receiver’s movement and you have something that’s both very quick to master and feels super satisfying when you can pull off a really long throw and have a player catch it in the end-zone.  I found myself forgiving most of the flaws brought on by the vibrating table mechanic since not having to control the players means that you can focus entirely on perfecting every throw.

True to its predecessor’s origins, Super Shock Football has a distinctly 50’s exaggerated cartoon graphics style.  The character models look great and have a surprising amount of detail when the camera zooms in, and the stadium itself looks terrific.  You can use the tilt controls to adjust the camera angle and multi-touch to zoom in, which I often ended up using just to have a nicer view while players ran.  The menus themselves all look pretty good with the same authentic retro style of the rest of the game. Normally I would criticize a game for not having any music while you play but here I found that the lack of noise during game time really helped with the whole classic football vibe.  While you play you’ll only hear the occasional sound of the ball being caught or the ref’s whistle blowing, the audience cheer as you near the end-zone and a chorus of marching band music when you score. It’s small touches like these that really make the game’s atmosphere more immersive.

Wee! Camera angles!

There are three different difficulties to play on as well as a local multiplayer mode included.  After only a few games I felt comfortable playing on the hardest difficulty since so much of the game relies on luck.  Also included is support for OpenFeint’s superb social network and achievements system that is becoming more and more standard among some of the app store’s best games.  Overall, Super Shock Football is a pretty fun game. The randomness of the movement can be pretty frustrating sometimes, but once you begin to look past it and master the passing controls you’ll have a blast with this game.

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