Tiny Football, the nostalgic "kick" of MicroProse being tested

Tiny Football, the nostalgic kick of MicroProse being tested

Tiny Football

There are genres and forms of play that seem to make sense only in the specific context in which they are born and enjoyed and that can be recovered in retrospect only through an operation that specifically leverages nostalgic re-enactment. The problem is that, in most cases, undertakings of this type turn out to be not very incisive, precisely because they start from an assumption of dubious consistency: essentially, if there is the possibility of still using the originals, why should we consider a rival? This is a bit of the doubt that has gripped us in this test of Tiny Football , a game that clearly aims to relaunch the classic form of football games from the early 90s in modern times, currently available in early access on Steam.

Behind it is a historical and high-sounding brand, namely MicroProse, but this too is a bizarre case of exhumation from the past without particular substance: the new company has practically nothing of the historical label founded by Sid Meier and Bill Stealey in 1982 beyond the name, in a kind of philosophical parallel with the game we are examining.

On the other hand, it really seems that the recovery of obsolete game genres and types is at the basis of the mission imposed on the revived software house, so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by the situation. Curiously, however, Tiny Football seems to refer fully to Sensibile Soccer and not to the mythological MicroProse Soccer , which, moreover, was one of the sources of inspiration for the great classic by Jon Hare, slightly increasing the idea of ​​being faced with a hodgepodge of nostalgic memories and historical re-enactments without great construct.

Egg cup and surroundings

Tiny Football: a screenshot that clearly shows the references to Sensible Soccer Beyond the overall evaluations on the concept, Tiny Football is immediately entertaining, thanks also to an approach arcade that once again proves to be immortal, regardless of the distinctions that can be made on the need or otherwise of a new project of the kind. We must also consider that this is a title that has recently entered early access, therefore it is reasonable to expect an extension of contents and game modes in the near future, along the path that the developers have planned, which is why the evaluations are currently suspended until a trial on the most complete version. At the moment there are not many options available and, above all, the possibility of playing online multiplayer is totally missing, which represents a significant gap in a product of this type: it certainly falls within the vintage perspective of the project, but severely limits its potential .

In addition to the friendly, we can try our hand at various types of tournaments between national teams and club teams, including a sort of World Cup and a Champions League, although obviously without any semblance of officialdom or realism compared to real competitions . Among the most important modalities we find the possibility of facing even an entire season, although this is limited to a reworking of the English Premier League. In short, there are several game possibilities, single or offline multiplayer, but the contour is really reduced to the bone, as there is no possibility of team management beyond simple substitutions and the choice of formation and module to adopt.

Arcade football

Tiny Football shows a large portion of the field on the screen, even if this always appears a little "too small" As befits a game of arcade football, the gameplay is very intuitive and immediate, extremely fast and very different from the tactics we are used to seeing in modern simulations. This doesn't mean that it's easy or that the matches end up with deluges of goals from both sides, far from it: the extreme dynamism leads to constant changes in front and the good level of challenge makes the matches generally very hard-fought by the start to finish. The game system is clearly derived from the legendary Sensible Soccer, which revolutionized football games in the early 90s giving rise to a real legend, still played and supported by many fans even through new unofficial versions and various mods . Precisely this, in fact, represents a fundamental element that undermines the sense of a project like Tiny Football: with an original still perfectly enjoyable, it might not be worth dedicating oneself to an emulator that, at the moment, also offers something less (missing here all the managerial component, as well as many options and game modes present elsewhere).

The graphics with tiny players and the wide "bird's-eye" shot are the major references to the Sensibile Software classic , but evident links are also found in some elements of the interface and above all of the control system , in particular the fact of relying on a single key, as happened on the Amiga.

Tiny Football, a moment in the match The more or less prolonged pressure determines a different power of the shot/pass/cross, while the movement of the controller (or of the arrow keys) immediately after shooting allows you to impart spin to the ball. However, the general feeling of the game changes and this is perhaps the most characterizing element of Tiny Football, for better or for worse.

The ball remains glued to the players' feet, unlike what happened in the classic of reference, which makes more decisive interventions necessary to take him away from the opponents, almost always through tackles bordering on the killer intervention, often not sanctioned by the referee. Also in this case, the passes become fundamental to try to maintain possession, but the speed of these and the rather small dimensions of the field make the coverage of the distances too fast, often finding ourselves in front of a fast pinball machine from end to end. another of the stadium without the possibility of setting up more than a lot of reasoned actions. In many respects, in short, rather than an imitation of a classic evolved through a more modern vision, it seems an excessive simplification.

Pixel nostalgia

Tiny Football, a screenshot From the point from an aesthetic point of view, the work done by MicroProse is commendable, precisely recovering the pixellated 2D graphic style that will surely warm the hearts of those who lived the videogame 80s and 90s live. We notice greater attention to some details, while others are deliberately more sketchy, in a sort of mannerism of the archaic bitmap, but the glance is always fascinating. However, there are a few bugs that will probably be fixed along the way from early access to full release: for example, it's practically impossible to navigate menus with the controller, as it doesn't sense the correct inputs (at least when using a Xbox Series X controller), which forces you to use the keyboard anyway, while no problems emerge during the course of the action on the pitch.

There is probably something to record also on the refereeing front, which is a problematic element also due to the gameplay itself: when the very hard tackle is practically the basic rule for facing the opponent, it becomes difficult to find the right yardstick to apply to the artificial intelligence, although there are some subtleties to be noted such as an offside pretty accurate. In general, between bugs related to the menus and general scarcity of content, it is clear that Tiny Football still has to go through a certain period of development to reach its complete form.

The arcade football game is now among genres considered anachronistic, whose only possibility of current revival seems to lie in the imitation of the great models of the past. Tiny Football clearly recalls Sensibile Soccer, but remains far from the classic in terms of content but also of gameplay, currently resulting as a simplified and reduced version of it. Precisely in consideration of the fact that the original is still very valid, such an operation could lose meaning, although it still results in an immediate and very fun game. In any case, we look forward to seeing it in a more complete form, with more extensive content and fixed bugs.


Fun and immediate, as per tradition Arcade football is now a rarity DOUBTS Still few options and game modes Absent online multiplayer Some bugs found between controls and interface Have you noticed any errors?

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