Quizball Goal Review
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 3
It’s an admirable thing to try something new, but it can be seen as ill-advised depending on the end product. Quizball Goal is a game that seeks to add something different to a marketplace that is filled with football games containing everything from management to realistic simulation on the pitch. This PSN downloadable title is an arcade football quiz game trying to bring together general knowledge and simple on the pitch play.
You initial reaction to the concept will most likely be one of ‘this cannot possibly work’, but you may be surprised with Quizball Goal as you begin to see how the premise is implemented. As a concept it’s a very narrow one, with football fans already being a very particular portion of the gaming demographic the arcade quiz approach slices that piece of the pie even thinner. While the playful colourful graphics and childish appearance may seem inclusive by design the truth is that if you don’t have a basic knowledge of football you will be immediately frustrated, or if you are happy with a 25% success in multiple choice you may find some joy.
Within the actual gameplay you will be asked questions to decide the outcome of your actions; make a tackle and get the question wrong and the attacker will get away from you, take a shot and the attempt will be on or off target based on your knowledge. This approach can seem jarring at first and will slow the game down as it constantly stops to assess if you made that intercept or if your cross into the box has a successful header on the end of it. When you settle into the idea it becomes less intrusive, you begin to play tactically and there can be a fair amount of laughs to be had when playing against another human opponent... the addition of slight inebriation can lead to some great post-pub matches.
The are some clever ideas that actually make the play on the field interesting, for instance if you are defending your selected player will have a transparent circle surrounding him. Once you get an opposing player into this circle you can tackle them, how long you hold them in the circle before tackling will determine how difficult your questions is. It's a nice touch and also works in reverse as the attacker will have to decide how soon to pull the trigger as depending on distance they may end up with an extra hard question to land a shot on target. There is a really curious decision made by the development team that seems to make you unable to select a player after you have been successfully tackled which is utterly frustrating, losing to a tackle should see the penalty being losing possession and not losing possession plus having your entire team nullified for a few seconds.
On the field there are also power-ups to be used to aid your success or cement your defeat, although matches can be played with or without power-ups. They do add a little more depth to the proceedings, allowing you to swap your opponent’s question for a ‘Brainmelter’ just as they thought they had the easiest question possible or even using ‘Confusion’ to keep swapping answers around so your opponent needs to pay real attention. It’s neat and well implemented and before you know it you’ll be collecting and using power-ups tactically and with great glee as you stump your opposition with some seriously difficult questions.
But a quiz can be easily weakened by the quality of its questions and here is where Quizball Goal starts to falter. Depending on what country you pick your questions will be shaped around that country, leading to a lot of matches with only England or USA being picked to even have a chance at winning, unless of course you are very knowledgeable about the Japanese league and its stadiums. There are general knowledge questions dropped in but the higher percentage of your questions will be team specific and it’s here that Quizball Goal further alienates what could have been a wider audience. Equally well the question database doesn’t seem to be overly large and within my first half hour of playtime I started to encounter repetition, by the third hour it was more an exercise in visual recall than actual knowledge.
It’s a brave effort and one I can see a lot of merit in and there is genuine fun to be had but it is very short lived, even for a downloadable title, and the concept itself will not lend itself to enticing the neutral. Quizball Goal is not quite the own goal it could have been but for now it will need to train harder and come back next season to reach the higher divisions.