Soccer Up 3D Review (3DS): “Kick It Away from Your 3DS”

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When it comes to the most popular sport in the world, soccer is the one that’s always on top. Spanish developer EnjoyUp Games, who has been putting out a decent amount of titles for Nintendo’s DSiWare format has decided to finally release a 3DSWare title, Soccer Up 3D. While we’ve seen yearly releases of soccer sim games like FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer, EnjoyUp wanted to bring a more simplistic, pickup-and-play game for a more accommodating price. However, is Soccer Up 3D worth your time?

Soccer Up 3D is actually an enhanced version to 2011’s WiiWare release, Soccer Up. EnjoyUp Games listened to some of the criticisms the game received and aimed to provide solutions to those in the 3DS edition. Now, if you’re a soccer sim buff that loves FIFA or PES, I will say right off the bat that this game will probably not satisfy your soccer needs. This is a more basic, old-school approach soccer game that’s not looking to carry any real soccer players or locales.

Soccer Up 3D Gameplay 5

Soccer Up 3D provides a World Cup, Exhibition and Training mode to play around with. World Cup has you aiming for the big trophy that every soccer hopes to win. Exhibition lets you play a single match against the CPU. And lastly, Training has you get acclimated to the controls and mechanics. All of these modes provide for some customization as well, whether you tinker the game time, control setup and stadium you play in. The core foundation of the game is here, but there’s a single important problem…it just doesn’t play well.

Soccer Up 3D Gameplay 1

Controls are more or less easy to grasp for a soccer title, albeit with an additional mechanic known as “After Kick”. This lets you slightly curve the ball after kicking it, which is a nice feature that’s rewarding to pull off. Aside from this feature, the mechanics start to feel less fleshed out. Controlling players on the field is pretty responsive, but switching players is a pain. When it released on the WiiWare, the players would automatically switch. On the 3DS, they give you the option to switch players manually. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work as well as it should, usually picking a player that’s not closest to the ball. Another severe issue is the slide tackle. The button might as well be labeled in red saying “DON’T PRESS THIS BUTTON!” because no matter how perfectly you position your slide tackle, the opposing player will trip and the whistle will be blown. What’s the purpose of the button/mechanic if all it does is penalize you? There’s no way to take the ball from your opponent except to run up to them and hope your player grabs the ball from them. Another issue experienced with the game is the glitched “injury time”. After doing a 90 minute game, the injury time went up to an additional 40 minutes…and I can say right now that there wasn’t anywhere near that much time that happened in the match that needed 40 extra minutes. This happened twice in similar occurrences during my playthrough of the game.

Soccer Up 3D Gameplay 2

Now, it wouldn’t be a sports game without a multiplayer component. After all, sports game shine quite well when playing with friends. First off, I need to give EnjoyUp credit for how they handled this. The game offers Download Play, but actually provides the non-owner the entire game to play until they quit the application or shut off the system. This is a very welcome approach to Download Play and I hope many other developers take note to this. Now, the multiplayer seems to work decently most of the time, but again, glitches were found here. Some laughable, some not so forgiving. During my multiplayer run, my friend and I were running mid-field trying to take the ball from each other and then suddenly, we were teleported to a corner kick. Another issue (that’s not a glitch) was the penalty shootouts. While in reality, I hate penalty shootouts because it’s nothing more than a game of luck, this shows you where your opponent is aiming to kick. While that may seem handy, that just seemed odd and makes the intensity of a shootout less engaging. The multiplayer is certainly more entertaining than going up against the CPU, so aim to have someone else with a 3DS nearby to get a bit more enjoyment out of the game. There’s no online play, strictly local play only.

Soccer Up 3D Gameplay 3

When you play two hours of the game, you’ll unlock the Mii feature to add your Miis to a custom team, choose the jersey colors and which Mii belongs at which position. It’s a cool feature for sure, but you never really see your Miis up-close in action. Speaking of teams, you do get to choose to play as your favorite nations around the world…except every player has the same generic look to them. The only difference in all honesty when choosing a team is the jersey color they represent…that’s about it. Visually, the game looks ok for a 3DSWare game, but the banners around the stadium are low-res. Animations are serviceable and get the job done for a soccer title. The 3D effect is done pretty well, without it straining your eyes much at all. Audio wise, there’s menu music (only one song in the whole game) and a few lines of dialogue the commentator says. There’s no “real” commentating though aside from “Kick-off”, “GOALLLLLL!” and calls of that nature. Sometimes you’ll hear the crowd in the stadium but it kicks in and out too seldom. The sounds of the players kicking the ball and running on the field are appropriate though.

Soccer Up 3D is an enhanced version to the WiiWare title released in 2011. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t play well enough for me to recommend to soccer fans of any type. It’s buggy and just simply, not much fun at all. While it may be a budget soccer title for on-the-go entertainment at $5.99, think carefully if you want to spend it on this game. It’s not godawful or anything like that, but it’s certainly subpar.

Overall Score: 4.5 out of 10 = Don’t Buy It!

A special thank you to EnjoyUp Games for providing us the review copy for Soccer Up 3D!

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99 Moves (DSiWare) Review – “A Move in the Right Direction?”

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EnjoyUp Games’ next installment in the “99” series of games is another pick-up-and-play title aimed at quick, simple fun on the DSiWare platform. Somewhat similar to their other game, Abyss, 99 Moves plays like a cross between Snake and Boulderdash with puzzle elements. Does 99 Moves move the casual market on the eShop forward or backward?

To find out, let’s explore 99 Moves’ gameplay dynamics. Like Abyss, 99 Moves has 12 levels to get through. You can use the D-Pad or Circle Pad to change your character’s heading, but he will continuously move in the direction you indicate until you change it. Each time you change his heading, one of your 99 moves – hence the name – is used up. You need to try to make it to the exit in each level without using up all of your moves, and this entails navigating through labyrinths with moving obstacles to avoid. You will begin to accrue points the longer you avoid hitting obstacles, and you can also run over special power-ups that will grant you 99,000 points each. It’s simple and surprisingly fun, with such a low barrier of entry that just about anyone (and their grandmother) can get into.

99 Moves follows the series’ hallmark of simple, retro-style graphics and sound, and it gets the job done without being too overt. The game uses simple Atari-style graphics and sound, and it works in a charming way. However, it’s really all about the gameplay with EnjoyUp’s games, and there’s some solid fun to be had. The missions are fairly varied, and there’s a nice sense of risk-versus-reward in the multiple paths you can choose; usually you’ll know right off the bat which path is harder to get through, but you can be sure there will be a score bonus power-up waiting at the end if you make it through. The area where 99 Moves falls short is in its replay value; there really isn’t much of it here. This is an area where many casual games thrive; the fact that you can get so much gameplay out of such a small cost. However, given 99 Moves’ one-shot nature, it makes the $1.99 price point much less appealing. The game comes with 12 missions to get through, but once you beat them, there’s very little incentive to go back to them other than to reach the top of the offline leaderboards. However, unless you share your system with a friend or family member, you’re really only competing with yourself. If EnjoyUp Games had included some sort of online leaderboard system, or a level creator / random level generator, it would have gone a long way towards improving on the game’s value.

99 Moves is a fun, simple game, but simply doesn’t deliver enough value to really make it a worthwhile purchase. It’s not to say that $1.99 is a lot of money to spend on a video game, but don’t purchase it with the expectation of getting hours and hours of gameplay out of it. If you’re okay with that fact, then 99 Moves makes a worthwhile, if short-lived, diversion.

Overall Score: 6.5 / 10= Reconsider an immediate purchase…

99 Seconds Review (DSiWare)

The Nintendo eShop is host to a whole slew of accessible casual games, and Spain-based EnjoyUp Games certainly has a few to its name, including Snowboard Xtreme and Abyss, each of which we’ve reviewed on the site. 99 Seconds is a game in a similar vein, offering up simple, enjoyable gameplay in bite-sized portions. Available for $1.99, is 99 seconds worth even one of yours?

99 Seconds is actually a sequel to another EnjoyUp title, 99 Bullets. However, rather than incorporating gunplay, 99 Seconds revolves around the manipulation of time. Your character, V-99,  has found his way into another dimension known as Bit 8, and must dodge deadly black areas of space while collecting blue power-ups to extend your time and surviving as long as possible to extend your score. The pivotal gameplay element is V-99’s ability to slow, stop, and even rewind time. Using any of the face buttons, it’s possible to go as far as reverse time in order to navigate between black spaces and collect power-ups. However, the clock will keep ticking during this time, and the more you rewind, the more your score decreases, so this pivotal ability can’t be used wantonly. Getting hit by a black zone will also stop the game for a few seconds, preventing your score from increasing but continuing the clock countdown. Power-ups will randomly appear during a game as well, giving you something to reach for other than V-99’s continued survival. Blue orbs will increase your score and grant a 10-second time extension, while collecting extra V-99’s will give a dramatic score increase. Once time is up, you’re truly running on borrowed time; after this point, you can’t use your time-rewinding powers, and getting hit one more time will end the game. You can still collect blue orbs as they appear to get a little breathing room, but at this point the end is near.

Unlike Abyss, 99 Seconds’ gameplay lends itself well to a mobile title, and is very reminiscent of retro-style arcade games. With a simple premise and controls, 99 Seconds is one of those titles you can easily play if you have a few minutes handy, yet presents an addictive challenge that’ll have you coming back for more. The game features three difficulty options – Easy, Medium, and Hard – and each presents a totally different challenge. While you may be dodging obstacles with ease on Easy, you’ll just barely be holding on in Hard mode. Each mode is infinitely replayable and comes with its own leaderboard, though without any online posting options you’ll be setting out to beat your own record unless you share your DS or 3DS with another. The game’s visuals and audio are fairly middle-of-the-road, and while they may not do much to stand out, they actually fit the game’s aesthetic quite well. 99 Seconds, whether intentionally or not, presents itself as a throwback to the yesteryears of retro gaming. Graphics are simple but scintillating and consist of shifting shapes and flashing color pallets. Before video games had jaw-dropping graphics and realism, it was all about the gameplay, and when it comes down to it, 99 Seconds pulls its weight in this regard.

Priced at just $1.99, 99 Seconds is a fine example of what EnjoyUp can do with a pick-up-and-play casual game on the DSi platform. The gameplay is simple but fun, boasts endless replay value, and while the graphics and sound may not be ground-breaking, they serve as a nice reminder to a time when games were about the gameplay. 99 Seconds is an enjoyable mobile game, and a good addition to any DS owner’s library.

Overall Score: 7.0 out of 10 = Buy it!

Abyss Review (DSiWare)

Spanish development studio EnjoyUp Games is going back to basics with its line of simple pick-up and play games for the DS. Check out Glacier928’s review of Snowboard Xtreme and my take on 99 Seconds for more examples of EnjoyUp’s selection. Abyss is just one title in this line, available on the Nintendo eShop for the various DS and 3DS systems for $1.99.

Abyss is one of those titles that aims to take a simple concept and run with it. In this case, you play as a cyclopean creature armed with a light beacon, set to explore a dark, watery environment. Each stage hides six “Gaia Stones” which you need to collect before heading for the exit. More than a mere obstacle to the finish, though, your light beacon will slowly diminish, and can only be rekindled by collecting Gaia Stones. Much like the game’s concept, the controls are extremely simple. You rotate in a clockwise or counter-clockwise motion by pressing right or left, respectively, on the D-Pad or Circle Pad, while pushing any of the face buttons will propel your character forward. Your character accelerates forward and doesn’t come with any brakes, so mastering the game’s movement mechanics will definitely be one of the first things on your list. There aren’t any separate difficulty modes or online play to speak of; in fact, once you beat the game’s 12 missions, there’s very little reason to go back unless you’re interested in beating your best time on each mission; but without any online leaderboards, if you don’t share your system with any friends or family, you’ve really got no one to impress but yourself.

Abyss is reminiscent of the sort of casual game you might find on an iPhone or Android device at the same price point. Simple, straightforward, and easy to pick up and play, it’s difficult to touch on the game’s high points without acknowledging its shortcomings. Despite its simple premise, the game does have a slight learning curve to it. It isn’t immediately obvious what you’re supposed to do upon starting a game, and though you’ll obviously want to collect Gaia Stones as you come across them, trying to pass through the exit (which appears as a floating yellow orb) without collecting them all will result in the mission ending in failure, after which you’ll need start again from the beginning. Unlike similar mobile titles, Abyss doesn’t boast a whole lot of depth once you beat it. There isn’t a lot of replayability, and as far as I can tell, there are no plans to add more missions through downloadable content. However, given the game’s lack of depth, it’s doubtful more missions would expand on the game’s value much. That being said, it’s a fairly enjoyable game with decent graphics, simple-yet-elegant background music, and a decent deal at $1.99.

Abyss is by no means a bad game; in fact, for a studio as small as EnjoyUp Games, it’s a solid effort. That being said, it’s no Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja. It doesn’t seem EnjoyUp Games was trying to be the next big thing in mobile games with Abyss, but that’s fine – as long as you don’t buy the game with the highest of expectations, Abyss will justify its $1.99 price tag and provide you with a decent amount of game for the 30 minutes to an hour it will last you.

Overall Score: 5.0 out of 10 = Reconsider an immediate purchase…

Snowboard Xtreme Review (DSiWare): “Snowboard Basics”

Through the Nintendo eShop, consumers get a chance to nab some neat miniature titles for their DSi and 3DS. In the meantime, smaller developers from around the world also get the chance to try and get themselves out there. EnjoyUp Games is an example of a small developer out to make a name for themselves, providing bite-sized, arcade-style experiences on-the-go. You may recognize the developer for their DSiWare titles such as 99Seconds, Abyss and Gaia’s Moon if you’ve ever played those. With their latest title, Snowboard Xtreme, the developers aimed to give players a quick, pickup-and-play title for only the small price of $1.99. However, does the low price point mean you should immediately pick the game up?

To be blunt, there isn’t anything “xtreme” about Snowboard Xtreme, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my time with it. The object of the game has you slaloming down a treacherous mountain and trying to beat the time as you progress through each “Etape” (stage). When you start, you’ll only have the Normal Course available to tackle, which consists of four stages. As you race the terrain, you’ll have to pass flags on their proper sides to add three seconds to the clock. Naturally, the further you progress in the game, the more difficult your navigation will be due to obstacles that will obstruct your path. Should you fail to reach the finish line at any stage, it’s game over and you’ll have to start over from the first stage. Luckily, each stage takes about a minute to complete so frustration rarely kicks in. Upon completing the Normal Course, you’ll unlock the Xtreme Course, which consists of eight stages. While you’ll have a higher starting time limit, the stages will be a bit more demanding, meaning that passing every flag is crucial to adding time on your clock. Early on, certain obstacles will block your path but are low enough to jump over, while others may be tall rocks and trees that you need to dodge. Later levels will have builders coming down at you, while some of them will stop right in your path to prevent you from maintaining your speed. Speaking of speed, you won’t be zipping down the trails at breakneck speeds.

When it comes to controlling your snowboarder, you’ll use the D-Pad or Circle Pad (3DS) to make your boarder sway left and right. You can’t go faster, nor slow down at all. Pressing practically any button will do the same action, jump. There’s nothing more that you’ll really do other than dodge and jump over obstacles as you progress your way to the finish line of each stage. Don’t expect to be going off of huge jumps and pulling off insane tricks. Also, there’s no other boarder you can choose from other than the default one. There’s leaderboard support but only sports for local play. There’s no online leaderboard support to speak of. Visually, the game looks ok, with windy snow effects and all. The boarder’s animations are simple but get the job done. The framerate holds up well until the final level of the Xtreme Course, which really dropped for some reason. The soundtrack is appropriate, if somewhat catchy, but a bit repetitious due to only three track being replayed over and over.

While Snowboard Xtreme is a very basic game and shows nothing “Xtreme” that the title insinuates, the game is still mildly fun. While I wish there was more to do and see, the game is only $1.99 and the content more or less justifies the price tag. You can see the entire game in just under 30 minutes but I found myself replaying it a few times over. EnjoyUp Games has a decent base here to build something more “xtreme” and would like to see a bit more depth in future titles from the developers.

Overall Score: 5.5 out of 10 = Reconsider the immediate purchase…

A special thank you to EnjoyUp Games for providing us a review code for Snowboard Xtreme!

99Moves Trailer Showcases Retro Gameplay

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EnjoyUp Games, an indie developer that has focused on bringing titles to Nintendo’s DS, 3DS and Wii platforms, has just released the latest trailer for their upcoming title, 99Moves. In the past, they’ve released two other games in their “99” series and this looks to continue it.

The game uses a simple art style that replicates an 80s retro arcade feel. The object of the game is to navigate through the treacherous areas with only 99 moves. Check out the trailer below!