Master Kick Review

Developer: Industry Entertainment Publisher: Industry Entertainment
Release Date: August 31, 2005 Also On: None

Master Kick by Industry Entertainment has finally been released and it is almost a year late. It is understandable that some of the people who were stupid enough to preorder the game and pay for it before its release were getting a little angry. Industry released the game in time before the long wait created too much bad press, though. Was it worth the wait or was it perhaps released too early because of the time pressure?

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Let us look at some of the negative sides, first. The game has problems to motivate. You can play a quick game and a tournament and you have choices of different teams, different playfields, different difficulties and different formations. The tournament is a series of games against different enemies with a typical soccer scoring system. After some time, you have tried most of the interesting combinations and then there is no point in playing any further. No high score to show to your friends, no impossible challenges that you have to replay a lot to finally succeed. What makes it worse is that even the most difficult AI to play against is still pretty mediocre. To motivate and challenge the player to play for a longer time, Master Kick would have needed a system of unlocking playfields and teams one after the other and a more difficult AI to play against for experienced players. After having played the game for a few hours I have seen everything there is in the game and always win against the most difficult AI.

The second big problem in the game is variety. The six different playfields look nice, but they do not play any different. What is even worse is that all the teams play completely the same. There are different formations you can choose and they matter for gameplay, but all teams can choose all formations and have no difference other than the team color. In a future version, Industry could improve the game by making the Japanese players smaller, the English hitting harder and the French having an extra player on the field or something similar. Combine this with an unlocking system where you are forced to play the Japanese in the beginning and you get a game that can be fun for a lot longer.

If the game has all these flaws, you might be wondering, what did Industry Entertainment do with all that time? Well, they created a high quality game with great gameplay. The graphics in Master Kick are very polished, with the animated stadiums looking great. The players look good, too, and they even cast shadows (though this can slow down the game, so you might want to turn it off). The sound is absolutely stunning. There is real stadium atmosphere, with fans chanting and hissing, and the menus feature some good music.

It is not only the presentation that is good; the gameplay is great too. Sure, I complained about the lack of difficulty and motivation but you almost forget about this when you play the game. Why? Because it feels like real foosball. Of course, Master Kick is not a simulation and the game is not too realistic. However, it feels real enough. You can pull off moves, sometimes by accident but also sometimes with skill, that look and feel like real foosball. An especially great feature is the replay mode that automatically replays the last moves that lead to a goal. You can enjoy watching your goal or get angry at the opponents luck. Another feature that adds realism to Master Kick is that you can actually kick the ball out of the playfield if you hit it too hard.

Since the release of Master Kick, I have heard some people complain about the controls. After having played the game for some time, I think that their complaints are unfounded. The longer you press the kick button, the harder you spin your kickers when you let go of it. There is a little yellow meter to display this. It is located in the bottom left corner and often hidden below your hand, especially for left handed players. Even if you could see it, you have hardly any time to concentrate on it during a game. The thing is that you do not really need to look at it after a few minutes of experience. Most of the time you will hit as hard as you can anyway. The controls worked very well for me after getting used to them, which took a few minutes time.

I talked about the bad things and the good things in Master Kick and while I think that there is quite some room for improvement, I also think that good outweighs bad here. In Master Kick it is the sheer fun of a pointless foosball game that has to motivate you, not unlockable specials and challenging opponents. Try the demo and you will see if it is your type of game.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9.5
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 8.5
Written by Ortwin Review Guide


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