Football (or Soccer, for our US readers) has been played across a multitude of mediums with a plethora of styles and takes on the beautiful game. From the fluid simulations offered by FIFA and Pro Evo to the intricacies of club management in Football Manager each game has garnered a passionate following but Ganbare: Super Strikers offers a fresher lens on the world’s favourite sport. Turn-based tactics.
Playing through the tournament option offers players an increasingly difficult path to the victors podium against a varied group of opposing teams. Instead of a classic knockout format, Ganbare: Super Strikers offers a linear progression where you play the same teams every time in the same order. Starting the tournament allows players to customise their club with its own name, emblem, team kit/uniform and finally one of the players. Customisation options aren’t too granular but it’s enough to differentiate between teams. There’s no second or away kit for teams though so there’s always a chance you will clash with another player who has mimicked his favourite club’s regalia making things difficult visually. Then it’s into your first game.
Ganbare: Super Strikers follows the time-honoured “grid” movement style preferred by most tactical RPGs, within your turn you have the option to carry out two actions for each of your players. The movement statistic (favoured by RPG designers) restricts where your players can move and how far in a single turn but given you have two actions you could choose to use that twice rather than tackle, shoot or pass. Tactically that can be used to plan your attack if you don’t have the ball but when on the offensive it’s rarely used since you come to a dead stop after the second movement action.
Without the ball you can also tackle opposing players. Tackling relies on a simple statistical playoff between your tackle ability and the opposing players dribbling ability. If the number remaining after the tackle stat is taken from the dribble stat if less than a set figure then one of two things can happen, either you win the ball or it rolls into free play. If it’s higher than the set threshold then the attacking player successfully avoids the tackle and moves forward leaving defending players in a state of “Stun”
When in possession of the ball the move option still exists but you also have the option to pass and shoot. These mechanics work in very much the same way as tackling. The ball starts with the maximum value of the attacking players shooting skill. As the ball moves through the empty tiles on the way to either another player or the goal it decreases in power. If it meets another defender or the keeper on its path the stats of their defensive skills (tackle and goalkeeping) are taken into play. If the ball gets to your player after a pass and the value has decreased too far they may lose control, if it’s reduced too far by the defender then they intercept and their turn begins. That does make it extremely important to be as close to the opposition’s goal as possible before shooting or placing your team’s players in clear lines of sight to enable effective passing.
Once in front of goal however the options are limited at best. Most strikers have a handful of options to consider once faced with the keeper. Shot direction, height, power, spin, keeper positioning …. Unfortunately for Ganbare: Super Strikers these are consolidated into a single shot function with a direction, boiling the glory down to the same dynamic faced when dribbling or passing the ball past opposing players – a subtraction calculation. The players don’t even celebrate.
A large part of football is the fans, unfortunately, they are missing completely and the game feels a little empty of the atmosphere. The ball makes a few noises but there are no player sounds when tackled and the game relies on cartoon panel style effects when a keeper attempts to save a shot to add an action element to the gameplay. There’s some background music but again the match atmosphere is missing and really makes the game feel a little soul-less.
The movement style puts attacking players at a major advantage most of the game, the ball moves much faster and further than players can and given you can relocate your entire team, pass the ball through the field and then take the shot before the opposing team can retaliate or defend/counter your moves it seems lopsided. Players will inevitably tend to create a wall of defenders near their goal to ensure players need to shoot past both them and the keeper in the hope their skills are high enough to deplete shot power for the keeper to make the save easily. It also means if both players make the same decision to do this then the game quickly turns into a monotonous frustrating tennis match
Playing through matches gives players experience based on how often they interacted with the ball, the number of successful passes and shots made on goal (whether successful or not). This helps players to level up, gain better starting statistic values which in turn make them better at attacking, defending and (hopefully) scoring goals.
Completing matches and fulfilling several “mission goals” also rewards players with equipment which can be equipped between matches to either improve a players base stats or add special shot types. New Football Boots with effects like Toxic or Ice Shot will inflict a status effect on a defender if their attempted interception fails with a low enough defense value. Keepers and Defenders can also inflict effects on attackers such as paralysis if a keeper saves a shot utilising the “Thunder Save” capability.
A fair attempt to add strategic depth to the beautiful game; Ganbare Super Strikers is well illustrated and colourful but unfortunately shoots wide of the target. The atmosphere generated at match level is almost non-existent and whilst games like Football Manager show a layer of stratagem can be implemented well, turn-based tactics just don’t do it justice.