It's almost time for the World Cup and man I'm so excited! There's just something magical about the white lines on the fresh cut grass, the roar of the crowd, the, uh, the yellow cards and the, um, red? Yeah, red cards, and th... that announcer guy that screams "Goal!" for a really long time anytime anyone scores, and, okay, fine, I'm a big old faker. I don't really watch soccer, but I do appreciate that fans of the game around the world are poised in anticipation for the sport's biggest event. Just in time to celebrate the coming of the World Cup from Turbo Nuke, (the new brand for Long Animals and Robot Jam) comes Soccer Balls, a physics puzzler that can be enjoyed by hardcore soccer fans and laypersons alike.
Now if you, like many of us, can't score a goal to save your life but do have an uncanny knack for hitting random people in the face, there's nothing to worry about. You may never suit up with the pros, but you do have the perfect skill set to excel here. Unlike your standard soccer game, your goal here is to hit all of the referees with a soccer ball, thus making them lose their heads (in the cutest way possible and not at all like in the movie, Scanners. *shudder*). To do this, simply aim and adjust the power using the mouse, and click away. Of course it's not always that easy and you'll have to pass the ball to team mates, activate switches, break through wooden obstacles as well as pull off a host of other tricks in order to make it through each level.
Like Cyclomaniacs, also from Long Animals and Robot Jam, Soccer Balls is simple, accessible, and engaging. Not exactly heavy with eye candy, this phuzzle is nevertheless likeable and consistent, delivering up a fairly wide variety of puzzles that seem to do a good job of exploring the game's mechanic. Unfortunately, Soccer Balls suffers from being too easy. The overly generous trajectory lines and the ability to refresh balls in a single level result in a game that poses little to no challenge at all until the last handful of stages. Attempting to get a perfect score on each level can add some difficulty to the task at hand, but in most cases not a whole lot.
Just because a game is easy doesn't mean it isn't also fun, however. Besides, it can be quite refreshing to play a game of soccer without first standing against the fence next to the kid with the curiously persistent mothball smell and strange knee braces to see who gets picked last.