Football Seasons is a quick-fire mashup of deck-building and football management. To the avid deck-building fan, this could be considered blasphemy! After all, what place does the beautiful game have in the realms of the deck-building genre? No longer is that space exclusively reserved for a fantasy backdrop, where intrepid heroes crusade through mythical worlds. Now footie fans can grab a piece of the deck building action, and that can only be a good thing, right?
As the manager of the Italian Tuna City FC, you start out by training your team during August (your first turn) in preparation for the upcoming season. At the start of your very first season, you have 7 cards representing players which you can train up in three categories: strength, reputation or team play. Each season is divided into 10 months (i.e. turns) and on each turn you distribute your players (i.e. cards) throughout the currently active competitions. Once you’ve trained your players during August, the game moves on to September and competitions are now available to play in. Now it’s simply a matter of assigning players to the various matches (some obligatory and some optional) and playing through each month of the current season.
The aim is to gain the most “fame points” through winning matches. As with any deck-building game, using special abilities and powerful cards at the right time makes all the difference between winning and losing. Winning a season can be done in one of two ways: either play a lot to earn in-game currency, or spend a chunk of real cash in IAP to buy in-game currency. Either way, the only way to win that I can see, is to purchase better cards so you can build a powerful deck. There’s a considerable range of cards available for purchase including football stars, equipment (sport centre, bench, stadium etc.), actions (header, bicycle kick, tackle etc.), fans (chant leader, supporters etc.) and talented players. Also available are additional teams: England, France, Germany and Spain.
I have mixed feelings about the implementation of Football Seasons.
First, the good points. The comic-book style artwork of each card features amusing caricatures of football players, and each one is superbly drawn. Each card’s statistics side has funny remarks. One of my favourites is that of “Old Glory”, a star card sporting an overweight one-time football legend with the tagline “Two world cups in his career, two golden balls on the wall, here comes the nightmare of all defenders, the phenomenon of the field…well that was him some kilos before two operations on his knees.” This kind of witty humour coupled with the artwork works well, and is somewhat reminiscent of the Hector games on iPad.
The overall look and feel of the game is extremely well thought out and the game mechanics – once you figure them out – are addictive and enjoyable. The multiplayer option is a nice feature, although I was a bit disappointed that weren’t many people online to play against; I waited for ages for new opponents each time. In fairness this is probably due to the game being relatively new and will hopefully improve as it is more widely adopted.
Now the bad points. The tutorial at the start of the game is just awful. There are so many slides of text and whilst an attempt has been made to make it an interactive tutorial, not enough effort has been made to guide the new player through the game in an eloquent and concise manner. I gave up with the tutorial in the end and worked the rules out through trial and error, with the occasional glance over the rules when I was stuck.
Quite a bit of the text throughout the game is translated from Italian, and it shows. There are way too many grammatical and spelling errors to overlook.
This all fades to insignificance when faced with annoying iAds at the top or bottom of the screen (they seem to randomly switch between the two which is even more irritating) and the overpriced In-App Purchases. If you wanted to get the maximum experience out of the game, £23.99 for 5000 credits would basically buy you every card. Of course you don’t have to buy every card, and there are a variety of smaller credit packs available. Nonetheless, it’s clear this game is built on a pay-to-win model. Sure, you don’t have to buy any IAP; in which case, be prepared to play – and lose – a lot of matches. What really bugged me was the iAds – if I’m paying up to £23.99 for a game, surely it’s unfair to have to put up with adverts throughout the game as well.
6/10: Football Seasons has the potential to be a fantastic game, but it is marred by expensive In-App Purchases and a poor tutorial. It has everything a deck-builder wants, it looks gorgeous and plays well, but it needs an overhaul. A concise and truly interactive tutorial is essential. The pricing model should be made fairer. Remove the iAds and charge a fair price for the game up-front. Or keep the iAds and make the game free. Either way, the game should include all the main cards by default and offer power cards and teams as optional IAP. If the developer does something like this, Football Seasons could well be up there with the likes of Ascension.