When it comes to gaming in Argentina we need to address the elephant in the room: we LOVE soccer games. Of course, soccer is very much ingrained into our culture and it should come as no surprise that most people who own a video game console also own a copy of Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) or FIFA. However, though I enjoy these games as much as the next guy, I’ve always felt that most of these main-line franchises have always equated realism to fun.
Enter Golazo!, Purple Tree’s bonafide arcade soccer game from 2019. Fully developed by an Argentinian team, Golazo! balances the excitement and wackiness of arcade soccer games from the past such as Super Sidekicks and lush cartoony graphics to bring us a refreshing take on soccer that we rarely get to see in the videogame industry as of late. The question is: does this spin on the classic no-rules soccer games stick the landing or is it an absolute flop?
Golazo! has a very well-defined artistic identity. When you start up Golazo!, you’ll be greeted by its colorful and stylized title screen featuring two players going after the ball and the presenter exclaiming “Golazo!” as the upbeat soundtrack kicks off. The music can get a little bit repetitive after a while but you can always turn it off.
Everything from the menu layout to the sound effects when you select your players oozes arcade nostalgia. There’s even a VHS filter option in the main menu for those who are looking for that extra blast-from-the-past. During matches, the narration is serviceable and the sound effects are as wacky as you’d expect.
Graphically, though, Golazo! truly shines once the ball starts rolling. Everything from the running animations to the parted grass on the field after an epic slide pop with intense color and detail is definitely one of its strong suits. Though there are no real players, so to speak, the coaches all resemble real-life coaches. One of them is a cartoon version of Diego Maradona, which was a cute little addition.
There’s something for everyone in Golazo! in terms of gameplay features. The main menu offers 3 game types: Quick Match, International Cup, and World League. Sadly there is no online multiplayer but having played the game on local co-op (with up to 4 players) I can say that local multiplayer was the best call given the game’s frantic pace.
What I loved about Golazo! was its light-hearted approach to soccer and how rules truly go out the window once the game starts. When you are in possession of the ball, you can run and dash as in any soccer game and there are no offsides and no fouls (for the most part) so when you don’t have the ball you are free to slide tackle your adversaries to your heart’s content. What’s more, after a few minutes, the game will randomly give each team a series of power-ups that range from ultra-fast sprinting to extended slides, and upgraded shots so no match will be completely the same.
My main gripe with the game is its clunky controls. Often times passes require precision inputs that the game doesn’t register that well and the AI doesn’t really respond as you’d expect when you want to create strategic plays. It may not be super intuitive but you eventually get the hang of these controls, though a little bit more responsiveness would’ve been welcome. There is a built-in progression system where you earn coins after winning a match but the things you can purchase in the in-game store are merely aesthetic and do very little in the way of adding quality of life improvements or game-changing features. It’s nice to keep you busy unlocking stuff though.
After sinking in a significant amount of hours into Golazo! I can say it’s a huge leap forward for the Argentinian videogame world. Its exuberant animations and special effects as well as its graphical style set it apart from the sameyness of traditional soccer games and that’s a huge plus. Though more could have been done in terms of the fluidity of its gameplay, Golazo! will definitely scratch that old-school arcade soccer itch as well as serve as a nice entry point for those who have never played an arcade-style sports game before. We are excited to see Argie developers hone their skills by putting out games that show how competitive they can be in the already hugely competitive video game market.
Golazo! is available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Mobile