It's World Cup Month here on Pocket Gamer, so we're celebrating all things football! Today, PG Editor Ric looks at why Football Strike managed to enrapture him despite being a fairly simple title...
Trying to capture the full experience of football on a mobile device has always struck me as slightly odd – not least because I'm not sure my phone's battery could handle 90 minutes of gameplay, even with a half-time orange.
So when a game cuts it all down to its finer points, I become infinitely more interested. Football is always about the big goals and the dramatic plays, rather than the running about and measured defence.
Which is why, not so long ago, I found myself hopelessly addicted to Football Strike, a game which boils the whole football experience down to a collection of rapid-fire penalties and trick shots.
Crucially, Football Strike is entirely multiplayer-only – once you get past the first couple of tutorials, you're thrown into matches with fellow newbies to face off against.
You also need to pony up some in-game coins before you play a match, so every single challenge carries some sort of risk, no matter how far down the competitive ladder you are.
It adds that little bit of drama that brings football to life – mess up one shot too many, or lose pace against your opponent, and you're out of pocket and potentially forced to play at a lower level for pitiful rewards.
You're also rewarded for your wins in Clash Royale fashion, with a football kit bag to open up, unlocking new balls, outfits, and other customisation options to give you an advantage or just make your kicker look a bit nicer.
This constant risk and reward gameplay made Football Strike incredibly compelling, leading to one of those rare times where I'd still play the game even though I couldn't get a new football bag until one of my others had opened.
The actual gameplay is quite simple – you swipe on the screen to take a penalty, aiming your shot at targets in the goal to score points, all while your opponent does the same thing to the same targets.
There's also a mode where you take turns being the striker and the keeper, something which I abandoned quite quickly on account of me being a godawful keeper.
But target practice is simple and fun, and the rapid pace of play combined with short game times means you can hammer through ten matches and still have plenty of time left on your lunch break.
To me, it combined the best parts of mobile game design and football games into a wonderful experience.
You had the fast pace, short attention requirement, and compelling loop of a mobile game, wrapped up in the drama and action of the footballing world.
Mobile may not be great at capturing full experiences in a lot of ways, but when developers boil down the essence of an idea to something more manageable on a smaller screen, it can work beautifully.
And that's exactly what happened with Football Strike. It's not the meatiest of releases, but it knows what it wants to do, and does it all brilliantly.