The PES and FIFA franchises have “the beautiful game” locked up as far as deep simulation goes, and the Apple TV hardware just isn’t the place for these big triple A heavyweights. The middle ground between mobile and triple A is this microconsole’s sweet spot, making Batovi Games Studio’s Pixel Cup Soccer 16 a great fit for Apple’s newest App Store.
While its playable and enjoyable enough on iOS with virtual controls, a big screen and an MFI controller in hand bring out the best in Batovi’s latest title.
Armed with our trusty Steel Series Nimbus, we put Pixel Cup Soccer 16 through its paces, and tried to right some of the wrongs of the World Cup’s past, but alas, we haven’t yet managed to get Australia through to the finals.
We had a blast trying though.
Also Read: SteelSeries Nimbus Review - A Gateway to Big-Screen Apple Gaming
The pixel art intro is a good indicator of the fun arcade itch that Batovi is aiming to scratch here. Gameplay is simple - with the ball you can opt for a long or short pass, or shoot, and without the ball you can change players or tackle. There isn’t a lot to learn, although I’d still recommend going through the short optional tutorial to get an idea of what’s possible and how.
Gameplay is never broken by fouls or free kicks, the focus here is on immediacy and fun - that arcade sense of wanting to have just one more match.
That being said, it would be unfair to say there is no depth here, as you will improve with time, but there is just enough depth so as to enhance the fun rather than obscure it. Learning the timing of when to push that tackle button or when to shoot is crucial, and these things will help determine wins and losses. Being an arcade game however, as opposed to a simulation means that being a few goals down does not always mean a certain loss, and I’ve been on both ends of some devastating comebacks.
Some great content gives players some nice bang for their buck, with 18 different stadiums modelled on real life counterparts, differing weather conditions, and a bunch of teams and tournaments both real and fictional. There are some great winks to those who know their football, such as the inclusion of a team called Tika Taka FC. Inclusivity is also celebrated with a Women’s World Cup, and a Rainbow FC team playable in the Pixel Tournament. Kudos to Batovi for these commendable touches.
Also Read: Pixel Cup Soccer 17 Preview - Available on Steam Early Access Now
Another nice touch are the temporary events that reflect current real-world tournaments. Those that feel France was robbed can get virtual satisfaction and replay the Euro 16 final against Portugal.
One thing that feels lacking is the inability to choose where to direct your goal kicks. The iOS version has recently seen directional control added to corner kicks and throw-ins - which is also on the way to the tvOS version, as are the goal replays - so maybe we’ll see this added to goal kicks at some point in the future as well.
With the arcade fun pushed to front and centre with Pixel Cup Soccer 16, local multiplayer makes this a great lounge room event on the big screen. As mentioned earlier, the virtual controls on iOS are a workable option for those on the go, but the accuracy of a controller, and the atmosphere this title brings to a lounge room easily makes Apple TV the platform of choice.
Also Read: Should You Buy an Apple TV as a Dedicated Gaming Device?
While playing Pixel Cup Soccer 16 for review, my wife mentioned that she could “hear” me playing it, as I celebrated and bemoaned my wins and losses out loud, and this is perhaps the ultimate compliment to Batovi.
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