Soccer Kid by Krisalis/Songbird Productions

Type: Platformer
Players: 1
Levels: 20+
Procontroller: No
Media: AVI

Kick Off!

It's the day of the Soccer Cup finals and in London, England, Soccer Kid waits eagerly for the game to start on TV. A capacity crowd of excited soccer fans fills the stadium, and the atmosphere is electric.

Meanwhile in outer space, a greedy, trophy collecting alien pirate has the Soccer Cup on his screen. He flies to Earth down over the stadium and beams the trophy up to his ship. But, back in space his ship collides with a satellite, smashing the trophy into five pieces and scattering them around the globe. It's up to Soccer Kid to get it back!

Soccer Kid is an old-school platformer all the way, and a fun one at that. While essentially the same game that's available on many other platforms (Amiga, 3DO, SNES, etc.), it's a solid game with sharp graphics, good music and tight gameplay. Soccer Kid's ball-handling abilities really make this game shine by adding a twist to the basic platformer premise.

Right away you'll realize that this is another quality product from Carl Forhan and Songbird Productions. The box, manual and cartridge all look great and replicate the original Jaguar game packaging to a tee. Of course, since Protector we've come to expect nothing less from Songbird - and that's a great thing for us Jaguar fans.

The game starts out without much fanfare, as you see the "Ocean" logo followed by the title screen featuring a Golden Grahams T-Shirt-sporting Soccer Kid. The lack of an attract sequence is somewhat missed, but otherwise the front-end gets the job done. The options screen gives you a few choices to alter gameplay, such as Sound effects on/off, Music on/off and redefine joypad (which is not supported). So pick whether you want music and SFX on or off and get into the game already!

Starting out in England, you'll start to get to know what Soccer Kid is all about. In order to accomplish your goals you must get to know the various moves that come from that soccer ball. Platform too high to reach? Stand on the ball and do a super-jump. Enemy in the way? Kick the ball at him and take him out. This addition to the gameplay makes Soccer Kid a refreshing expericnce, rather than just another generic platform-hopper.

The graphics in Soccer Kid are what you'd expect if you've played other incarnations of the title. They're nothing flashy and spectacular, but they are nice, bright and colorful. There is a lot of detail in this 2D world, and the parallax scrolling is a welcome addition to the graphical package. Landscapes vary nicely from level-to level, giving the feeling that you're travling to different parts of the world (for the most part). For some reason, though, the screen is "letterboxed" (black bars at the top and bottom of the screen). While not necessarily hampering gameplay, it is annoying considering games like Rayman and Zool 2 can run full screen on the Jag without a problem.

The sound is pretty good as well. The funky title track is a great way to get the game started, and is probably my favorite song in the game. The in-game music, while nothing special, does fit the game nicely and won't distract you from your quest to re-assemble the holy-grail of Soccer, the Soccer Cup. Sound effects are pretty generic for the most've got your jumping, kicking, "ouch" sounds. Definitely not the coolest SFX to grace the Jaguar, but they won't make you turn down the volume either.

From the sharp, colorful graphics to the innovative gameplay, Soccer Kid is a fun platformer and a nice break from the 3D Fighters and First Person Shooters of today. I'm having a great time with this one, letting my brain take a back seat and zone out on some good, old-school platform-hopping...with a twist.

by Kevin Manne