Desktop Soccer Review - Middle of the Table
Updated: Jul 7
Desktop Soccer is an arcade-y soccer game that theoretically features a bunch of modes, but that is really entirely about the tournament mode. Of the others, practice and friendly matches are really the same thing except that one is against the AI and one is against humans. Two other modes are gachas to get new equipment and team customization items, but one can be played every time you win 5 matches and the other is playable once per day. The last is just the team customization menu, which lets you change player names, uniforms, equipment, team stats, and formation. It sounds a lot deeper than it is - most of these are only really visual changes and equipment and stats are painfully slow to acquire.
So, if the tournament is all that matters, is it any good? Meh. It's a four round single elimination tourney against randomly generated teams, which means there's absolutely zero significance to who you're playing each round. The AI difficulty escalates each round from being laughably incompetent in round 1 to being far superior to your team in the finals regardless of which team you're playing against. This sounds cool, but the problem is that you can only gain stats to be able to compete against these finals teams by winning the tournament, and to do that you'd have to already be able to compete with them. You can at least get random equipment that boosts stats of individual players by winning 5 matches, but destroying terrible teams 5 times in a row to get equipment you might not even need isn't exactly thrilling. All of this means that the core progression is completely meaningless - you can't get better unless you're good enough to win the tournament, and once you can in the tournament, there's no content left to be better at except winning the tournament again. It's completely backwards.
The basic arcade soccer experience is actually pretty fun, but the mess that is progression holds back the whole experience. You can't access any of the silly customization since it's all locked behind grind or winning the tournament. You can't create meaningful custom teams for the same reason. Once you get past that, there's nothing left to play and even matches against friends would be pointless since your one tricked-out team will crush them. I'm more disappointed than anything since I was able to get this for all of $1. It isn't a ripoff, but it is a poorly made game for very avoidable reasons. Then again, considering that there are several places where they forgot to localize the text, it doesn't seem like SAT-BOX cared much about refining their game.
Time to beat: A tournament takes 20-30 minutes, but getting enough equipment to win one could take ages. I ended up editing my save file to skip the grind.
MSRP: $8, but much cheaper on sale
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