Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Go! Go! Beckham! Adventure on Soccer Island (GBA)

Go! Go! Beckham! title screen.
Today I'm taking a look at Go! Go! Beckham! Adventure on Yoshi's Island on the Game Boy Advance, a fictionalised account of the adventures of English soccer star David Beckham.

I'm just hoping it's not going to be a cartoony football sports game, because that'll lead to some boring screenshots for sure. Unless you're one of those people who loves seeing identical shots of little men standing around on a green rectangle.

Whoa, Beckham's the most cheerful little video game character I've ever seen! He looks so damn happy to be heading that ball.

I think that's meant to be his Manchester United kit, though the game came out in 2002 so I guess it could be his England kit for the World Cup. Funny how football games like this seem to always come out around World Cup time.

Press the Control Pad left or right to run to the left or right
And of course the first level takes place in a forest. Wow, look at that tutorial popup; they're starting off pretty basic. Also hello I think you'll find it's actually called a 'd-pad', so get it right k thx.

I'm actually a fan of in-game tutorials when they're done properly, but even the newest of newbies who has never touched a game controller in their life would've figured out how to walk in the time it'd take them to read that text.

Well now that I've successfully mastered walking I'll try moving up to jumping.

Nope... can't... make it.

It seems that poor Beckham is actually quite crap at jumping for a platformer character. He can barely even jump twice his own height!

Hey I've found a Yoshi egg! Oh wait, it's just a football as big as he is.

Yep this is actually part of the incredibly obscure 'football platformer' genre. Only the fourth one I've ever found in fact. Unlike Soccer Kid or Marko however, Beckham can't really do any tricks with the ball, besides bounce it on his head when he's against a wall. He can't even kick it that far before it comes to a stop. Which is a bit rubbish.

But the football is definitely handy to have around, because Beckham himself can't pick up coins! He just walks right past them. Only his football has the power to accumulate and store floating currency you see, so I've been kicking the ball at every coin I see.

Aww, little Beckham loves completing levels so much. It's his favouritist thing in the whole wide world!


BUT THEN, MIDWAY THROUGH THE NEXT TUTORIAL LEVEL.


I think I've discovered a bit of a problem with the game though. No, not the button to make the camera follow the ball instead of the player, that's actually awesome. The problem I'm having is that the ball likes to roll away whenever I kick it at anything interesting, and then I have to go off and get it back.

Yep, unlike every other football platformer there's no magic ball teleportation button to bring the football back to the player's feet, and I'm already starting to miss having it around.

Uh oh. "Activate the locks" is actually code for "search every square inch of the level for the items we've scattered around." This kind of thing really drove me to frustration in both Soccer Kid and Marko's Magic Football, and I doubt it's going to bring me much joy in this either.

But on the plus side Beckham's movement skills have been given an upgrade, so now he can jump and move around just as well as any platformer character. They deliberately limited his movement in the tutorial levels to... I dunno, teach me the value of exercise?

You are the chosen one, brought to Soccer Island to save us from our despair.
But now the training is over, and now it's time for the serious business. It turns out that my mentor Micky forgot to mention that the island has been taken over by the malevolent Mister Woe. He's kidnapped all the islanders, stolen all their treasure, and sent his League of Monsters running wild to cause destruction and mayhem.

So yeah there's trouble in soccer paradise, but it's cool; I'm the chosen one so I'll sort it all out. I'll rescue the civilians and recover the precious things. Sadly all the coins have to be returned to the island treasury and my omniscient coach would probably give me the look of shame if he caught me helping myself.

The Golden Boots let me collect coins by walking into them, huh? Well that's one annoyance gone, now all I need is a pair of golden gloves that lets me ignore all these locks I'm supposed to be searching for and I'm happy. Oh, and some magic golden pants to let me teleport my ball back would be nice.

The thing is though, to get the Golden Boots I need to collect 100 coins by kicking the ball into them. But once I've earned my shiny new coin collecting footwear I don't really feel a pressing need to grab the coins anymore, as their main purpose seems to be to get me the boots! The coin counter even disappears once I've reached 100.

Great, I've found an enemy and got him mad, and now he won't let me have my ball back. I kinda need that thing to open the locks so I can leave the level, you asshole! Wouldn't it be nice if I could just magic the thing back to my foot like in every other soccer jump 'em up that came before this?

Oh wait, this is just a training creature so he's actually entirely harmless. I can just walk over and pick the ball up. Wow, this really is a platformer for absolute beginners.

Just when I think Beckham can't get any more cheerful, he breaks out an even wider grin. The guy is loving every second of this. I think I really have found the most upbeat video game character ever.

Those eggs spinning around the goal represent the enemies I decided to kill remove from play along the way. You see, once they're down they drop an egg, which then releases a captive animal, so I'm actually saving creatures here. It's the classic Sonic the Hedgehog defence against complaints about video game violence.

That bastard's ran off with my ball! This... this has never happened to me in a football platformer before. You're not supposed to interact with the ball you yellow-assed son of a bitch, only I may interact with the ball!

Well I can't teleport it back, so I guess now I've got to go over there and get it off him.

Well the good news is that these guys don't kill Beckham on touch either, but they can inflict physical hurt by charging at him, and then emotional hurt by laughing about it afterwards.

Fortunately there's no limited lives or continues in this. Once I'm out of hitpoints I have to retry the level and that's the only penalty. Oh plus they've also taken my beloved Golden Boots away. Balls.

The annoying thing about killing enemies though, is that they all seem to take two hits, and if I don't get the second hit in fast enough they get angry and start chasing me, Bubble Bobble style. Well, that's actually pretty reasonable on its own, but after every kick I have to run off and chase down my ball before I can take another shot and that slows things down.

And then once the two hits are in and the enemy is finally down, they drop an egg... which I have to kick the ball at a third time to collect.

Another ? block, another enemy intel update, and this one's starting to get me concerned. Also, shouldn't that say "anything with a ball in its territory"? It's almost like they phrased it like that deliberately.

Yet another handy hint. Well it ain't lying, certain enemies I've found have only been vulnerable from behind, so I've had to jump over them and flip around for the takedown shot. Definitely more interesting than just tapping the kick button at everything as I'm walking forward.

Agh, it's after me balls! Ball, whatever.

I'm going to have to jump on his head, walk across his head, and slip out of this dead end before I even think about fighting back. Hopefully I won't end up stuck standing on his head with his fat ass blocking the exit, but there's not much else I can do here as he's invulnerable to everything but a rear assault.

Well crap, you know what would be cool right about now? A button that teleports the ball to my foot. It doesn't look like I can get down there, so the only thing I can do now is restart the entire stage I guess.

Oh right, I forgot to mention that the game actually has a proper genuine actual world map for each area and I can return to any level I've completed to replay it. It doesn't quite get full marks though, as I can't see any way to learn which levels I need to replay to collect the bonus letters I've missed.

I've got B E C and K so far, and I'm dying to see what it spells out in the end!

Oh, here's an interesting fact about David Beckham you might not be aware of: he can survive indefinitely underwater. The water slows him down a bit, but otherwise he could hang around down here all day.

Crap. How am I going to get in there to snatch the ball away from those ball hating enemies without getting attacked from both sides? You know, a ball teleporting button would be handy right about... okay, okay, I'll shut up about that already.

There, I've finally gotten all the BECKHAM letters! Woo!

No idea whatsoever what that's gotten me. Never mind, I guess I'll go meet this Monster Manager then.

Holy shit, it's a giant evil penguin! And he wants to eat me? Wow, this thing could give kids nightmares.


ONE MINUTE LATER.


Well, I've figured out that I can tilt his perch by kicking the ball under it, but that alone doesn't seem to be doing the job. So my theory is that I need to get him leaning enough for me to get a good shot, so I can run around and kick a ball in his beak. No success as of yet, though I'll be sure to inform you if I make any progress.


EVENTUALLY.


Oh, duh. I didn't actually have to kick the ball at him at all, I just hadn't been tilting his perch enough.

Yes, and your speech bubbles have started coming out of your stomach, which is never a good sign. Oh wait, he was doing that before as well.

Are we going to crack him open to see if there's an egg inside, like the other monsters? No? Man, bosses always have to get special treatment.

"You now have the power to recall a ball you have kicked."?

WHAT? So the developers knew the game could really use a ball teleport feature, actually coded one in, and then disabled it for the ENTIRE FIRST WORLD?

Why would they do that to me? What did I ever do to them?

The game's definitely more bearable now that I don't have to chase after the ball. Still not massively interesting though and there's been nothing new to show off, so I think this is a good place for me to quit.


Go! Go! Beckham! is pretty far from the total trainwreck I was expecting, but it's no Super Mario World either. The controls are responsive, Beckham always ends up where you want him to be, the enemies take a little bit of manoeuvring to deal with, and even the 'collect all the locks' thing I was worried about turned out to be a non-issue for the most part. But enemies needing three hits slows things down unnecessarily and it's all a bit too tame and repetitive for me really. I mean it's obviously designed for young children and it probably works well at that level, but I started getting bored with it pretty quickly.

Competent and likeable I'd call it, which doesn't necessarily equal entertaining but it's pretty much the opposite of crap, so I'll give it a gold star.


Wow, you read all the way to the end of this? What, were you bored or did you just scroll through it to read what I wrote at the bottom? It's fine, I won't judge you, though I will remind everyone for the 15,000th time that your comments and strange opinions are welcome. Especially if you can think of any more football platformers for me to play besides Soccer Kid, Hurricanes, Marko and Go! Go! Beckham! I'm sure there must be more of them out there, somewhere.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks. I'll definitely be reading the others.

    Shame the first world wasn't designed around your inability to call back the ball. That would've made more sense.

    ReplyDelete

Semi-Random Game Box