Icon Games haven't had a good track record with WiiWare games so far, with poor attempts in the form of Stunt Cars and Arcade Sports. This time around, they've attempted to combine one of the world's biggest sports, football (or soccer), with the classic brick-breaking arcade game Breakout, resulting in Soccer Bashi. So is this third time the charm? Disappointingly, it's not even close.
Soccer Bashi offers two main modes to play through, Arcade and Tournament. Arcade features 90 levels across 10 zones, each with their own boss battle, and plops you with five lives and a set of continues to keep you going. Once you complete a zone, you can then unlock things such as secret backgrounds for your levels, which are nice little extras but don't really add much beyond a change of scenery.
The aim of the game is simple: destroy all of the blocks across the field using the Wii Remote pointer to move your paddle. A lot of power-ups are hidden among the blocks to both help and hinder you, such as one to shrink the paddle and a ball multiplier. There is also a goal at the other end of the field, which is guarded by the computer that, upon scoring, will instantly take you to the next level. But the computer is too responsive, so it's very difficult to score. There is also a co-operative mode where you and a friend control two different bars at the bottom of the screen. This doesn't elevate the game much either, instead just makes levels easier to beat.
While the main game works fine on paper, the problem is just that it's no fun at all. The biggest issue is that while the gameplay mechanics work fine, the levels are just very bland, and it becomes tedious to beat them after awhile as they tend to drag on, as they often feel rather slow and struggle to keep you interested for long. Another issue is that while the game promotes itself with a large footie focus, it seems like the theme was rather forced onto the game, as apart from the addition of the goal at the top of the field and some background themes, you get the idea that Icon Games only added it to draw in fans of the sport.
Outside of Arcade mode, there are then Tournaments. These allow you to choose whether the types of level being used are custom made or pre-designed levels, whether you choose the levels individually or if they're chosen at random, the number of rounds per tournament as well as a co-operative mode like in Arcade.
Also included is a level editor, which allows you to save up to 100 different creations at a time. You have the same set of items available in the main game, such as the different variety of blocks and enemies, as well as a choice between a different set of backgrounds. For those who are more creative, it adds replay value but there's a disappointing lack of tools available.
One of the few positive points about this game is its graphics, which don't look too bad for a WiiWare game. While menu and loading graphics are a bit ugly at times, the main game is helped by the colourful range of blocks and themes. However, at this time there is no soundtrack at all in the game outside of assorted sound effects such as cheering crowds. This is due to a problem involving an SDK update by Nintendo and Icon Games have confirmed that they are currently working on a fix for this.
Sadly, what we see here unfortunately is a rather bland and dull attempt that will struggle to keep your attention, forcing a football theme into it as a way of trying to draw people in. Despite its budget price point, for those of you looking for a block breaking game on WiiWare, you'd be better off looking at Arkanoid Plus! and Block Breaker Deluxe, which offer much better value for your points. This is one to avoid.