SEGA Soccer Slam
Trust SEGA to take our national sport, make it more violent, cut down the number of players to four a-side and still create one of the most addictive games on the GameCube. This is exactly what has been done with SEGA Soccer Slam. Forget the likes of Liverpool and Bayern Munich. In Soccer Slam you'll get to control madcap teams such as El Fuego, Volta and Subzero. Each team gets a nondescript goalkeeper and three outfield players who each have their own qualities and characteristics.
The best way to describe Soccer Slam is to call it a mix between the old Bitmap Brothers' classic, Speedball, and five-a-side football. The action is fast, frantic and thrilling. There is no such thing as a foul and anything goes, in the pursuit of scoring a goal. Opponents can be hit, hacked and wacked and you'll not have to worry about a yellow or red card. In fact the only thing you'll have to worry about is the opposition doing the same thing to you, which they will of course.
As with all SEGA titles the game is deceptively simple. They could have made the game a violent variation of football and left it at that (but that isn't SEGA's way) but instead they incorporated some special moves and modes that take the game to the next level. Spotlight and Killer shots, when done correctly, will almost guarantee you a goal. Occasionally in a game a spotlight will appear on the pitch. If you position your player in this moving spotlight and shoot, a Spotlight shot will be performed that will power a shot towards the goal. Throughout the game your power meter will fill up. If you hold down the right trigger button and press the A button, the location you are aiming the pass to will have pulsating green circles around it. By moving your player into the pulsating circles and shooting, a Killer shot will be performed which is guaranteed to scorch the hands of the goalkeeper. Once your power gauge is full pressing the left trigger will power up the player on the ball. Powering a player up will increase their statistics, temporarily, and give you an increased chance of scoring.
The game modes include Arcade, Quest, Challenge, Tourney and Practice. Arcade mode offers the choices of an exhibition match or 2 mini-games called Hot Potato and Brawl. To be perfectly honest the mini-games are rather disappointing and will probably be ignored by most. Quest is the heart of the single player experience and sees you attempting to take a team all the way to Continental Cup victory. Interestingly enough you can purchase items from the soccer shop that will enhance the performance of your players. In Quest mode you can control just one of the players if you wish and the your team mates will be become CPU controlled ,or control the team as normal. The Quest mode is worth the asking price alone. Challenge mode lets you assemble your own team and take part in a four match competition. Victory will enable you to unlock additional players. Tourney lets you take part in a round-robin tournament, with or without friends. Practice is a simple tutorial that introduces you to the game's special moves.
Visually the game is typical of a SEGA product. The graphics are colourful, vibrant and impressive. The developers went for a cartoon look with the game and it was a wise decision as it adds to the character. The character models and animation are of course top notch. The small stadia look great and it is easy to ignore the impressive crowds and firework displays whilst you are concentrating on the intense, non-stop action. The special effects that come into play with the power-ups and the special shots are brilliant. The actual physics of the game are brilliant too and despite Soccer Slam being a madcap take on football, it is without a doubt a superb experience. SEGA should seriously consider doing a five-a-side football game.
The only downside to Soccer Slam is the lack of subtitling. Don't get me wrong the Practice mode, which is a tutorial mode really, is fully subtitled and the game as a whole is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. However, as we mentioned earlier, each of the players have their own personality and charm. They comment on goals that they have scored and when they appear on the menus they will say something. It is these comments that are unsubtitled and this is a shame because they really add to the character of a game.
The GameCube, to be fair, doesn't really have a great football game at present but from what I've seen, and enjoyed, of Soccer Slam this will satisfy those who have been waiting for some solid football gameplay, even if it is a crazy interpretation of the game. Whilst Soccer Slam is great fun as a single player game it becomes even better when played with friends and along with Super Smash Bros. Melee and Beach Spikers is easily one of the top multiplayer games on the GameCube.
Overall Game Rating: 8.5/10 Totally crackers. It's a typical SEGA product with crazy ingredients that produce a wonderfully playable experience although it is fair to say that it is the multiplayer elements of the game that really stand out. The mini-games are disappointing though.
Deaf Gamers comment: Would have been nice to have seen the post goal comments subtitled but otherwise it's fine.