The simplest ideas are often some of the best, but I have to admit that I had my doubts when I heard about UpperCup Football. An arcade style football game where everything is controlled with one button didn’t sound like it could provide much entertainment. A single sitting, which lasted 30 matches in a row, convinced me how utterly wrong I was about the game.
UpperCup Football is simply one of the most addictive games that I have played recently on Android and while it arrived on time for the World Cup, it is certainly not a cheap cash-in. If you are looking for a realistic mobile version of The Beautiful Game you are out of luck. However, if you enjoy football, but secretly wished it contained more land mines, bowling balls and teams with wacky hats, then you have come to the right place! UpperCup Football doesn’t take the sport very seriously, but this ensures that every match I played was with a huge grin on my face and it even drew over some people who are not into sports to check out what I was playing.
You are given control of a team of football players and it is your job to lead them to World Cup victory. Between you and that goal however, are 100 of the weirdest matches in Football history. Not only do the teams that you play against have bizarre names, but they are dressed accordingly as well. I’m talking teams that wear Viking helmets, cowboy hats, alien costumes, judge Dredd outfits, Batman masks and many, many more. I was looking forward to every single match, just so I could find out what my opponents would look like. The beautiful pixel art visuals are really a treat and I love how much effort the artists have put into each character. They all have so much personality and the way that they run around flapping their arms and diving for the ball is hilarious to watch.
Thankfully, the game also has some very solid and addictive gameplay to back up the fantastic visuals. As I mentioned earlier, you only have to worry about one button which controls pretty much everything. When one of your players is in control of the ball, a small arrow spins around him indicating the direction of his kicks. As soon as you press the boot button, the arrow stops and a power indicator pop up. The longer you hold down the button, the harder your character will kick the ball. This means you have to time your button press correctly in order to get the direction of the kick right. Timing is also imperative in getting the distance right. Get it wrong and you could kick the ball out of bounds or towards an opposing player. If your opponents do get a hold of the ball you have to do the same thing, but this time the arrow spinning around your player indicates the direction he is going to run in. The power bar determines how far he is going to go. The idea is to intercept the ball, but you can also run straight at the player with the ball and knock him over if you are willing to risk a yellow card. Overdo it and your character is red-carded, which results in a paper bag over his head. This not only makes him slower, but speeds up the arrow indicator considerably, making it more of a challenge to shoot or run in the right direction. The control scheme is very intuitive and it will take only a few seconds to fully grasp what you have to do. Don’t expect it to be easy though, as the game has quite a few tricks up its sleeve in order to keep things interesting.
First up are the modifiers, which determine how each match is played out. To win, you have to score a certain amount of goals in the time allotted, but the modifiers determine how tricky this is to accomplish. The ball might be replaced by a rugby ball which obviously bounces more erratically, a bowling ball that knocks down players hit with it at high speed or even an electrified ball which stuns any nearby players when it bounces. The playing field can be littered with traps and hazards such as rocks, pumpkins and land mines, plus you have to deal with the wind, which can sometimes blow at gale force. Goal posts are not always where you expect them to be or even the size that they should be and passing a ball up the field is considerably trickier when there are pinball bumpers and land mines in the way! All this adds up to matches that are chaotic, unpredictable and way more fun than they have any right to be. If your opponents manage to score it is deducted from your total, making it harder to reach your target before the time runs out. The game remains incredibly addictive, though, and it is probably the first title where after completing all the matches on “Normal” I immediately did so again on “Hard” because it was so much fun.
The audio is just as polished as the visuals and fits the chaotic atmosphere of the matches nicely. The crowd also makes noise depending on what is happening on the field, but you can adjust all the music, effects and crowd noises independently if they annoy you. The one-touch input method works perfectly and it never feels like you don’t have enough control over your players. The game offers a right- or left handed option, so the game is accessible to everyone.
While I am not the biggest fan of sports titles, UpperCup Football is much more of an arcade experience and had me hooked from start to finish. The attention to detail and amount of variety when it comes to the opposing teams is simply brilliant. The best part is that you don’t have to take my word for it, as the first 20 levels of the game are completely free. If you enjoy them (and believe me, you will) you can grab the other 80 at a low price to continue on your road to World Cup glory.