As we are all aware, the Football World Cup (the one with the round ball) is now entering its final stages (without the US unfortunately, who made a brilliant show of themselves to get into the final 16) with only 8 teams left and a further two teams facing elimination later today. It's an event that surpasses even the Olympics in scale and world-wide traction. In fact, it is only really matched by the sheer number of football 'set-piece' games that have spewed forth unto the App Store as developers capitalize on the momentum of South Africa.

We've compiled this little short-list for anyone looking to while away the increasing wait between matches on their iOS devices. Looking at our list, we had two far and away favorites, and from polar ends of the free kick game spectrum.


Deadball Specialist

Deadball Specialist by FullFat Games is without a doubt the football purists' creme de la creme-- the most realistic interpretation of the free kick. The base gameplay has you at various angles in front of goal, with a wall to beat and a pinpoint target to hit. All the players are excellently crafted and fully animated 3D models (that duly hold their hands over the privates as they nervously await the kick). Even the on-looking crowd is animated, waving banners and flags for their teams.

For all this winning presentation, it is the kicking mechanic in Deadball Specialist that makes it shine. An on-screen circle is depicted around the ball at the bottom of the screen, with various segments highlighted. These are your kicking areas, and swiping in a particular area will affect your kick's trajectory and spin. Flicking the ball in the lower right area for example, will apply inwards spin, curving the ball to the left. It's ball physics at its best-- utterly believable. Our only criticism is that there is no flicking sensitivity, and the default flick is weighted too lightly-- even a slight flick can send the ball over the bar.


There are two gameplay modes, Quick Fire and Challenge Mode, with the former offering no goal obstructions, a 60 second timer, and a range of targets to hit to maximize your score. The latter has no time limited and poses a number of set-pieces over 5 difficulty levels from trainee to superstar. Your goal is to meet a target score to proceed; a greater score granted for hitting closer to the bullseye. At the apex of these challenges are long-range, wide-angled kicks with a full wall to negotiate-- certainly no mean feat.

Each gameplay mode has its top scores recorded with OpenFeint, which also boasts 20 achievements to unlock too. Deadball Specialist really is the most gruellingly difficult package, but also the most comprehensive and delightful to uphold.


Flick Kick Football

Flick Kick Football by PikPok Games -- not to be confused with Flick Football-- is the clear winner of the more casual footy variants. With an excellent presentation and style about it-- we particularly loved the cardboard cut-out defenders, roaming keeper and slow-motion replays-- Flick Kick Football had all the right stuff to make our short list.

One of the best things Flick Kick Football has going for it, is the accuracy of its flicking mechanism. We felt it was the best 'weighted' flick of all the games, and it was effortless to direct the ball exactly where we wanted it. When the ball went over the crossbar, or wide of the post, it felt as if it were actually an error on our part, and not just us battling with the controls.

Flick Kick Football has two game modes to tackle; an Arcade mode and a Time Attack mode. Arcade mode has an interesting spin on the set-piece formula by rewarding pidgeon-hole shots and just-under-the-crossbar shots (aptly dubbed 'skill zones') with extra lives. If you miss a shot, either by firing wide or hitting a defender, you lose a life. You start out with no lives too, so precision kick taking is a must from the get-go.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9zMXvQkZVk


Time Attack mode differs from time-restricted modes in other games. You start with 2 minutes to kick as many goals as possible. Roaming defenders and goalkeepers will gradually pepper your shot sightline as you proceed through your kicks, and provide obstacles that soak up your shot clock if hit. Time is gained when goals are scored, and courtesy of the 'skill zone' system, hitting the sweet spots nets you bonus time. In a nod to a classic arcade game, NBA Jam, scoring three goals in a row without falter sets your ball on fire, able to move right through a defender if hit and active until you next miss or hit an opponent.

We really enjoyed the ultra long distance shots in Flick Kick Football, which provided some of the most 'whoa' moments in all the games we played. The OpenFeint platform is again used to record high scores in both game modes, and offers a full suite of 16 achievements to work towards too. Overall, Flick Kick Football has what is best described as a great Paper Toss vibe to it that just had us coming back.


Penalkick 2010

Our third short-listed footy game went to a game with a completely different take on the free-kick. Reigning supreme over the spot-kick, Penalkick 2010 takes what is-- in other apps-- an overly simplified concept of swiping left and right in front of goals, and adds the important element of psychology to the penalty kick. Indeed, psychology is 50% of the act in penalty shoot-outs, with some of the more experienced goalkeepers and kick-takers attempting to read their opponent's visual cues.

And that is precisely the feeling captured by Creative Patterns in Penalkick 2010. As kick-taker, you first press the screen to start your run to the ball. As you get closer, it's a battle of nerves as you attempt to psyche out the keeper to see who moves first. Wait until you see the keeper lean in his favored direction (or indicate in his thought bubble which way he'll jump), get your flick in on time, and you'll be rewarded with glory. If you flick first, the keeper will have the advantage instead, and pounce readily onto your wayward strike. It's not as simple as it sounds, with the better keepers being far more reluctant to disclose their plans early.


The penalty-kick gameplay is then embodied in a championship mode, which does wonders to show off the great cartoon-like graphics and caricatures. Essentially a simulation of the final 32 World Cup, Penalkick 2010 kicks off your group games by providing a brief running commentary, as if you were an onlooker. All of a sudden-- 'lo and behold! -- a penalty situation occurs, and the game commences. It's a clever implementation that speaks volumes of Creative Patterns's efforts to go beyond the basic gameplay. After the group stage, each game stages you in a penalty shoot-out situation, where it's do-or-die.

Though the actual flicking mechanic is simpler than in the other two games, its psychological meta-game and world cup modes provide an interesting enough twist to stand it comfortably alongside the best of the flickin' lot of the them.


Honorable Mentions Go to:

Flick Football [iPhone/iPod, $0.99] [iPad] [Lite, Free]
For its great, authentic commentary and realistic crowd cheering!

Kick Flick Soccer 2010 [iPhone/iPod, $0.99]
For its funky neon pitch and posts, and spot-on shot mechanics and slow-mo replays.

Spotflick [iPhone/iPod, $0.99]
For its liberal use of streakers and its fantastic bobble-head presentation.

TouchArcade Rating

  • ImNoSuperMan

    Havent tried the rest of them, but really loving Flick Kick Football. With all the EA and Gameloft 99cents sale games coupled with some awesome free games I downloaded in the last couple of weeks, this still is the game which I played the most.

  • ImNoSuperMan

    Havent tried the rest of them, but really loving Flick Kick Football. With all the EA and Gameloft 99cents sale games coupled with some awesome free games I downloaded in the last couple of weeks, this still is the game which I played the most.

  • Woy Dodgeson

    Flick kick is addictive, but these are all very similar football theme games, not full football games.

    World Soccer Champs is the best new football game. Fun, fast, smooth, some great goals, good AI. And cheap too.

    • http://www.twitter.com/thewindburn Peter Lettieri

      Right you are, these aren't full football games. This round-up was specifically in response to the bombardment of these flicking apps on the App Store, though.

      If you look at full-blown soccer games, not many have been released specifically in response to or in anticipation of the World Cup, so we've provided some advice on these smaller but more numerous apps.

      • Woy Dodgeson

        I noticed that after I posted :)

        Still, the recommendaton for a good game that does let you play a full World Cup tounament might have been of benefit to some folks!

  • Woy Dodgeson

    Flick kick is addictive, but these are all very similar football theme games, not full football games.

    World Soccer Champs is the best new football game. Fun, fast, smooth, some great goals, good AI. And cheap too.

    • http://www.twitter.com/thewindburn Peter Lettieri

      Right you are, these aren't full football games. This round-up was specifically in response to the bombardment of these flicking apps on the App Store, though.

      If you look at full-blown soccer games, not many have been released specifically in response to or in anticipation of the World Cup, so we've provided some advice on these smaller but more numerous apps.

      • Woy Dodgeson

        I noticed that after I posted :)

        Still, the recommendaton for a good game that does let you play a full World Cup tounament might have been of benefit to some folks!

  • jecebn

    I'm usually not into soccer games, but Flick Kick Football is great

  • jecebn

    I'm usually not into soccer games, but Flick Kick Football is great

  • BazookaTime

    I have tried all of these and agree with the order listed. Deadball is the best and the HD version is even better.

  • Big Cyrille Regis

    I bought DeadBall after reading your review, and you are right is fricking awesome. No other game has got the ball physics nailed like this game. sweet.
    I like Flick kick aswell but doesnt play anywhere near as good.

    cheers for the tip off dudes!

  • BazookaTime

    I have tried all of these and agree with the order listed. Deadball is the best and the HD version is even better.

  • Big Cyrille Regis

    I bought DeadBall after reading your review, and you are right is fricking awesome. No other game has got the ball physics nailed like this game. sweet.
    I like Flick kick aswell but doesnt play anywhere near as good.

    cheers for the tip off dudes!

  • mrhamm

    Deadball Specialist is the one for me. Far prefer it to the others reviewed here. Even though it's harder than the others you get better each time. I actually missed my bus when I was too busy playing it.

  • mrhamm

    Deadball Specialist is the one for me. Far prefer it to the others reviewed here. Even though it's harder than the others you get better each time. I actually missed my bus when I was too busy playing it.

  • Torres

    Deadball Specialist is my favourite.
    Also Free Kick Pro, bad graphics but very funny

  • Torres

    Deadball Specialist is my favourite.
    Also Free Kick Pro, bad graphics but very funny

  • Heff

    Flik kick by pikpok is the best mechanics and graphics. Flick football is the most fun. Deadball is ok but hard. Penalkick looks easy

  • Heff

    Flik kick by pikpok is the best mechanics and graphics. Flick football is the most fun. Deadball is ok but hard. Penalkick looks easy

  • Adam

    My vote goes to Deadball!

  • Adam

    My vote goes to Deadball!

  • HelperMonkey

    But do any of these feature realistic 2010 World Cup officiating in which obvious goals are randomly and inexplicably waived off as no good?

  • HelperMonkey

    But do any of these feature realistic 2010 World Cup officiating in which obvious goals are randomly and inexplicably waived off as no good?

  • WilhelmR

    My vote goes to Kick Flick Soccer (the one by Kevin Ng), funky graphics, quick controls :)

    Deadball Specialist is nice, and the effect you can put on the ball is great, but not too easy to pick up.

    Flick Kick Football, played it, but i'd stay with their football (american) game, much better :D

  • WilhelmR

    My vote goes to Kick Flick Soccer (the one by Kevin Ng), funky graphics, quick controls :)

    Deadball Specialist is nice, and the effect you can put on the ball is great, but not too easy to pick up.

    Flick Kick Football, played it, but i'd stay with their football (american) game, much better :D

  • http://www.superstreaker.com Nemoid Studio

    It is not really a soccer game but I must mention our last game: Super Streaker.
    You are running naked on the field and your goal is to shoot everybody down!

    Very funny if you're not after something serious ;-)

  • http://www.superstreaker.com Nemoid Studio

    It is not really a soccer game but I must mention our last game: Super Streaker.
    You are running naked on the field and your goal is to shoot everybody down!

    Very funny if you're not after something serious ;-)

  • CzarCastic

    I agree completely. Deadball Specialist is the best of the bunch, especially the HD version.

    However, I completely disagree with Peter when he describes Deadball Specialist by saying,

    "Our only criticism is that there is no flicking sensitivity, and the default flick is weighted too lightly– even a slight flick can send the ball over the bar."

    There is definitely flicking sensitivity. It's even described in the instructions. The position you place your finger on the ball determines how much spin is placed on the shot. The speed at which you flick determines how hard you hit the ball. So, you can flick slowly to lob a shot very gently, or flick quickly to kick the ball with some power. It sounds like Peter is either flicking much too quickly, or he's not placing his finger on the right spot on the ball for the type of shot he wants to hit. In my opinion, Peter's criticism sounds more like he just needs to practice the game a little more and not flick the ball so quickly.

    But, I'm glad to see Deadball at the top of the list. I've spent many hours playing both the iPhone and iPad versions.

    • http://www.twitter.com/thewindburn Peter Lettieri

      I think you've misconstrued what I was referring to there Czar. Part of that reason is because I've omitted the word 'option' after sensitivity (my fault), and part of it is because when compared with other flicking applications, such as Flick Kick Football, a small flick compared to a tiny flick results in a far greater variance in shot power. I personally felt the other applications were better weighted in this respect, as they allowed for larger swipes and a greater range of flicking speeds, resulting in finer shot power control.

      I've managed to get to Superstar on the challenges, so I have a firm grasp of the controls. I just felt that if it was going to be so sensitive (and as the reigning app for ball control), it should at least have an option to let people tune it down themselves. Those of us with bigger fingers will be all the more happier for it :)

      • CzarCastic

        That sounds more like an alternate control option to me, which is certainly a valid request. But, I think the controls as laid out are absolutely perfect. You just have to get in the mindset of using the speed at which you flick, rather than the distance that you flick, to control the power of your shot. Flick slow for a soft, lobbing shot. Flick fast to blast the ball at a more powerful, flatter trajectory. I think maybe the fact that Deadball Specialist was the first of the flick football games that I tried that helped me grow accustomed to the controls more quickly than the other games out there.

  • CzarCastic

    I agree completely. Deadball Specialist is the best of the bunch, especially the HD version.

    However, I completely disagree with Peter when he describes Deadball Specialist by saying,

    "Our only criticism is that there is no flicking sensitivity, and the default flick is weighted too lightly– even a slight flick can send the ball over the bar."

    There is definitely flicking sensitivity. It's even described in the instructions. The position you place your finger on the ball determines how much spin is placed on the shot. The speed at which you flick determines how hard you hit the ball. So, you can flick slowly to lob a shot very gently, or flick quickly to kick the ball with some power. It sounds like Peter is either flicking much too quickly, or he's not placing his finger on the right spot on the ball for the type of shot he wants to hit. In my opinion, Peter's criticism sounds more like he just needs to practice the game a little more and not flick the ball so quickly.

    But, I'm glad to see Deadball at the top of the list. I've spent many hours playing both the iPhone and iPad versions.

    • http://www.twitter.com/thewindburn Peter Lettieri

      I think you've misconstrued what I was referring to there Czar. Part of that reason is because I've omitted the word 'option' after sensitivity (my fault), and part of it is because when compared with other flicking applications, such as Flick Kick Football, a small flick compared to a tiny flick results in a far greater variance in shot power. I personally felt the other applications were better weighted in this respect, as they allowed for larger swipes and a greater range of flicking speeds, resulting in finer shot power control.

      I've managed to get to Superstar on the challenges, so I have a firm grasp of the controls. I just felt that if it was going to be so sensitive (and as the reigning app for ball control), it should at least have an option to let people tune it down themselves. Those of us with bigger fingers will be all the more happier for it :)

      • CzarCastic

        That sounds more like an alternate control option to me, which is certainly a valid request. But, I think the controls as laid out are absolutely perfect. You just have to get in the mindset of using the speed at which you flick, rather than the distance that you flick, to control the power of your shot. Flick slow for a soft, lobbing shot. Flick fast to blast the ball at a more powerful, flatter trajectory. I think maybe the fact that Deadball Specialist was the first of the flick football games that I tried that helped me grow accustomed to the controls more quickly than the other games out there.

  • Andytastic

    My favourite isn't on your list. Kick Swerve is head and shoulders above the others and I've bought all of the apps featured here (plus Goooooal! which is OK). I found KickSwerve to have the best controls. It's probably a bit harder to get to grips with than the rest, but has a replay save and share function that the others lack. It also has other game modes like hitting tyres and stuff. Worth checking out for anyone who's into their flicking footy games.

    I also really like deadball specialist, mostly because it opts for totally different controls to the others, without taking away the ability to get some good swerve on those shots..

  • Andytastic

    My favourite isn't on your list. Kick Swerve is head and shoulders above the others and I've bought all of the apps featured here (plus Goooooal! which is OK). I found KickSwerve to have the best controls. It's probably a bit harder to get to grips with than the rest, but has a replay save and share function that the others lack. It also has other game modes like hitting tyres and stuff. Worth checking out for anyone who's into their flicking footy games.

    I also really like deadball specialist, mostly because it opts for totally different controls to the others, without taking away the ability to get some good swerve on those shots..

  • Asamoah

    I really like Spotflick. Great fun. The keepers are hilarious! I love how you can try and get your country to the top of the Spotflick Cup league. Been trying to get the US up there but England seem to be really good at cartoon penalties! lol

  • Asamoah

    I really like Spotflick. Great fun. The keepers are hilarious! I love how you can try and get your country to the top of the Spotflick Cup league. Been trying to get the US up there but England seem to be really good at cartoon penalties! lol

  • http://appsnail.com/iphone/ avi

    haha world cup almost over, where u been a month a ago ? :)

  • http://appsnail.com/iphone/ avi

    haha world cup almost over, where u been a month a ago ? :)