Hey -- if the Petz games can sell hundreds of thousands of copies on Nintendo DS, maybe Kidz (Sports) games could do the same on Wii. They do both have Zs in their titles, after all, and who the hell doesn't love a little Z in their gaming collection? This, we think, is what prompted developer Data Design to create a half dozen Kidz-branded sports titles for Wii, so far all them fascinatingly bad. The latest digital bowel movement destined for the stinky pile is Kidz Sports: International Soccer, which, yes, uses exactly the same template as the other Kidz games. It is, as we've established, a broken template and not even the game box's promise of "wild zany action" (without commas, we might add) can convince us that the action is wild, zany, fun, or interesting for more than a minute. Seriously, if you're still reading this review, you must hate yourself.
Read any of our previous Kidz Sports reviews, change the practically meaningless subtitle of Basketball or Hockey to Soccer, and you will have stumbled upon exactly the same drawbacks and exactly the same criticisms. That's because save for barely different looking characters and costumes and arenas, as well as slightly modified ball / puck physics, the games are more or less the same, and not one of them has scored into the coveted 2.0 range yet. Incidentally, Soccer's not going to break the mold.
With Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 right around the corner, we can't imagine why anybody except for masochists would even ponder this alternative. Yes, it's true that Kidz Sports: International Soccer does have a Z in its title, we know, but it doesn't have a robust lineup of official teams and athletes, proper stat tracking, good play controls, adequate AI, decent graphics or an online component. Furthermore, its on-field mechanics are so poorly implemented, slow and clunky that only the most devoted pain-seekers will be able to bear more than 15 minutes before relenting. The term shovelware was created for and embraces games of this caliber.
To its credit, Kidz Sports: International Soccer does feature one or two-player exhibition matches, a shallow tournament cup and a couple of quickly compiled mini-games. It's a pretty mediocre selection on a good day, but at least these options are not insulting.
Meanwhile, on paper its control scheme might seem ambitious. You maneuver soccer players around the fields very slowly with the analog stick, but you make passes and shots, not to mention tackles, with a series of waggle-heavy movements. Sadly, no real thought has gone into the gesture system and as a result most of the motions feel awkward if not altogether broken. We actually like the shot component, which asks you to pull the Wii remote back to charge your kick and then slam it forward to release. However, you can't make quick shots because you always need a second to charge -- a second in which the opposition, always clinging to you like a bee on honey, will steal the ball. Worse are the truly forced gestures. For example, the process of tackling requires that you snap both the nunchuk and Wii remote inward as though you were an airstrip director very rapidly signaling for a plane to land on your chest. How about passing by shaking the nunchuk left and right? What? Seriously? We want to see the casual gamer who can effectively play this game.
We can keep going with this. The AI is so poor that goalies are useless -- we've never seen one actually stop the ball. The framerate skips here and there despite the fact that the graphics are sub-par in every regard, from lack of texture detail to ridiculously low polygon characters whose animation routines have taken a holiday. Don't even get us started on the useless mini-games. But is there any real point in continuing? If you've stumbled upon our review, then you should know by now that there is no reason to pay the price tag for this piece of junk cash-in project. You are the lucky ones. There are thousands of ill-informed consumers out there, pushing their carts through Wal-Mart, who may not be so lucky. And their kids unluckier still.
Kidz Sports International Soccer is, like its Z-branded shovelware companions, a digital turd. What does it really offer soccer fans? To answer that question, I will call upon some other words that use the letter Z. Zip. Zilch. Zero. And what will happen to you if you play it for more than 15 minutes? Zzzzzz.
Offensively templated package with very little redeeming value in any regard.
Same as Kidz Sports: Hockey or Basketball with new costumes, arenas and characters. Horrible, in other words.
Music and sound effects are halfway to decent, but still incredibly lackluster.
Broken. Stupid. More or less unplayable. And it killed your dog.
0.0 Lasting Appeal
Only applicable as a torture device against your enemies.
(out of 10 / not an average)