The things people did to entertain themselves in the cold, dark days before videogames can evoke feelings of pity in the youth of today. Take electric football for example, a toy that hit shelves in the late 1940s. This was a scaled-down metal football field on which you lined up a formation of tiny plastic players, one of whom held a plastic ball. To start a play, you flipped a switch, causing the entire field to vibrate, and you watched the players skitter into action. You were far from guaranteed that your guys would travel in a straight line, or even that the ball carrier would wobble toward the proper end zone. And this was considered fun?
To many baby boomers, it was. Even today, electronic football is enjoyed by a small group of passionate folks. Tapping this cultural time capsule, developer Steamroller Studios has faithfully recreated the experience on the iDevice, bringing the frustration of watching your QB run in circles to a whole new generation.
But kitsch or not, Super Shock Football has plenty of charm, aided in no small part by the game’s excellent presentation. The art style is straight out of mid-twentieth century comics, and the audio fits the goofiness of the game like a glove. Ambient crowd noise, chants, whistles, honks and, of course, vibrations plant you firmly in the crazy world of electric football.
Blue forty-two! Hut, hut, vibrate!
You can choose from five fictitious teams with names like the Burglars, Pole Cats, and Lumberjacks. With so few teams, there’s no point in playing a season, so every match is a one-off.
On defense, the only decision you make is your team’s formation on the field. You can pick from preset formations, or drag and drop the players wherever you want them. Once the play starts, it’s hands-off. We kept wishing we had some say in where our guys went, but true to the game’s inspiration, that’s left to fate. For a tackle to take place, the front of a member of the defense must touch the front of the ball carrier.
Offense offers you more control. Again, you pick your team’s formation and hope for the best, but now you can control passes. The passing mechanic is very well-implimented: just tap and hold on the quarterback, and a bullseye appears. Drag the bullseye to where you think the intended receiver will be when the ball lands, and as long as the receiver is there to catch it, you have a completion.
We promise, this is not Lego football.
Passes also come in handy when your screwy running back starts scrambling out of bounds or running the wrong way. When this happens, you can throw laterals to players heading in the right direction. This becomes a major part of the gameplay, and a very enjoyable one at that. Punting is controlled much like in other football games, by using a power meter and a directional arrow.
Even though there’s no option to play a season, there’s plenty to do in this game. There are three difficulty levels, seamlessly integrated OpenFeint achievements, and a single-device two-player mode.
The developers use tilt to great effect as well. Tilt controls your view of the field, exactly as if you were hovering over the toy version of the game. Tilt to the left, and your view of the 3D field glides gently toward the sideline. For a closer or wider view of the field, pinch gestures zoom in and out.
Another tiny quibble is that there’s plenty of screen space, but the display of score, time, etc. is relegated to a very small strip at the bottom of the screen. Not a huge deal– we’re just nitpicking.
As strange as it is not to have full control over your guys during plays, we thought Super Shock Football brings some welcomed diversity to the football genre in the App Store. If you ever had one of these electric football games, this purchase is a no brainer– you’ll be grinning from ear to ear the whole time you play. At the same time, don’t buy this if you’re looking for a traditional football game. But if you’re interested in a game that puts a charming twist on the genre, do yourself a favor and pick this one up.