Ganbare! Super Strikers review for PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Switch

Platform: PS4
Also on: PC, PS Vita, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: Rese Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2 (other versions 1-8)
Online: No

The idea underlying Ganbare! Super Strikers is a pretty simple one. It takes soccer, and gives it a turn-based twist. While I?m not crazy about turn-based games, I see where it?s coming from. After all, if you think about it, football (the US version, not the one you?re playing here) and baseball are turn-based games at their core, so it?s not a huge stretch to apply that to soccer too.

(Admittedly, that ignores the fact that one of the great things about soccer is its free-flowing action. Breaking the game down so that each player can make a total of two limited moves per turn kind of flies in the face of how the sport works. But seeing as the EA?s FIFA series has essentially cornered the market on the real thing, it makes sense that some enterprising developer might want to try something different.)

Unfortunately, even if the idea mostly makes sense, the execution leaves something to be desired. Part of the problem is that each turn feels like a roll of the dice. For each of your moves — dribble, pass, shoot, tackle — you match your number up against those of your opponent, except there doesn?t seem to be any strong connection between player ratings and the stats on any given move. You can be a powerful player trying to dribble around a weak defender, but that doesn?t mean anything for any given turn. While that makes sense in real life sports, where good players can occasionally get trumped by lesser ones, it doesn?t work as well in a game that?s built around turn-based battles.

The bigger issue with Ganbare! Super Strikers, though, is the difficulty curve here borders on the insane. The first match in story mode (which is where you?ll find the meat of the game) does a good job of easing you in and showing you the ropes, but as soon as you start your second match, the challenge ramps up significantly. Opposition players are suddenly equipped with all kinds of special moves like Ice Passes (which freezes your defenders), sleep tackles (which knock your players right out), and shots that can?t be stopped. Needless to say, you lose that second game pretty handily

Consequently, you soon discover that you just have to keep on losing that second match again and again until your players have accumulated enough experience to finally eke out a victory. Want to earn all three stars from the match to unlock useful goodies like equipment? That?ll be some more grinding. Then you repeat it again for the third match, and the fourth match, and so on. Basically, if you?re after an experience that?s heavy on the grinding, Ganbare! Super Strikers offers just that.

As a soccer game, though, it?s not nearly as enjoyable. Much like the real thing, the best thing about soccer video games is seeing the beautiful game in full flight. Ganbare! Super Strikers has a lot of the same elements of soccer (and some enhanced moves that, in the right circumstances, could have been kind of neat) but as a package, it gets bogged down in its twist. Turn-based battles aren?t inherently incompatible with soccer, but the two certainly don?t mesh well here.

Ratalaika Games provided us with a Ganbare! Super Strikers PS4/Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: C-