The game development competitions over at TIGSource are always a good time. With a specific theme and a strict time limit, entries are usually impressive, amusing, or both, and a few have even gone on to become commercial titles, like Realm of the Mad God and Eversion. There hadn’t been a competition in a while, so I was excited when a new one, the Sports Compo, was hosted back in November (with voting in December). Of course, I was so busy with other games that I didn’t have a chance to look at any of the entries, but I finally got around to trying the winner, Footbrawl Quest.
And seriously, just look at that screenshot. You know you want to play this.
Footbrawl Quest is a turn-based tactical game in which you must move your team of knights through the gridiron dungeon and try to score a touchdown. Along the way, you’ll have to tackle and dodge a horde of undead enemies. You can find chests filled with powerful treasures that will grant special abilities, or deadly traps that will waylay would-be thieves. You’ll have to have your team work together to stand a chance of defeating the undead army and saving the kingdom.
Given that it was made under a strict one-month time limit, I was impressed with how complete it feels. There are different types of knights with different abilities, and having them work as a team, covering each other and protecting the ball carrier, is essential for victory. Knights and undead can be knocked prone or even killed outright from well-placed tackles, so positioning your knights with high defense stats to block is critical. Items can be life-savers as well, doing everything from boosting stats to letting knights teleport past enemies and avoid tackles of opportunity to simply dropping bombs that ruin the undead team’s day. Despite the ridiculous premise and the turn-based tactical tropes, successful strategy feels a lot like running a solid football play. The art is also really nice, with a clean pixel-art aesthetic that recalls classic strategy titles like X-COM: UFO Defense. And I love the chunky animations for tackles, especially the devastating charge move.
There are some rough edges, of course. When moving knights, clicking anywhere in their movement range will end their movement, even if it was only one square away. This will seem strange to players who are used to the more traditional “movement point” system, which would allow continued movement until the maximum allowance was reached. But once you know how it works it’s not a problem, it just requires thinking carefully before acting. Also, the aforementioned charge move, which lets a knight perform a powerful running tackle against a distant enemy if he’s lined up properly, is great when it works, but it doesn’t always seem to trigger when it should. Pulling it off is awesome, however, as your knight will barrel through any enemies in his path and can even smash through walls.
There’s only one game mode, but it features a procedurally-generated field/dungeon to wade through, so it’s different each time. Even so, I only played until I managed to win a match, as the experience wasn’t that varied between matches. There is a multiplayer mode that I did not try, however, and it could easily provide more longevity to the game. It’s a co-op mode, with each player in control of half the team, but I would guess that the social element would really make a difference. Online play with chat is supported, but hotseat has to be done “ad hoc” with players simply agreeing to control certain knights.
Footbrawl Quest may not keep you entertained for an extended period, but for a one-month game it’s very impressive and a lot of fun. It plays quickly too, making it an ideal game to fire up when you need a short break from whatever it is you need short breaks from. And it’s completely free, of course. Give it a go, and see if you can’t save the kingdom with your mighty tackles.