Indie Time: Footbrawl Quest

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.

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13 Responses to Indie Time: Footbrawl Quest

  1. Gregg B says:

    Aww, it’s a shame this hasn’t got a head-to-head mode! When I saw the screenshots I first thought of Brutal Sports ‘Football’ (or rugby as it’s called in Britain) and Wild Cup ‘Soccer’ (or football as it’s called in Britain) on the Amiga. They weren’t turn-based but they had that brutal medieval fantasy vibe going on. I too really dig the pixel art, particularly the shadows which makes all the scenery click together. All in all though, very impressive for a single month’s work.

    • waltorious says:

      Well, right now the game is very asymmetric, with many more undead soldiers than there are knights, so having one player play as the undead wouldn’t work that well. Plus there are some surprises when you get near the endzone. But there’s always a chance the developers will continue work on the game now that the contest is over. People are already requesting PvP on the competition forums.

      Also, I must point out that American football and rugby are actually quite different, although I admit they are more similar than American football and British football (aka soccer). American football is actually almost “turn-based” in a way, with lots of pauses to plan out strategies, so it’s a good fit for a turn-based tactical game.

      • Gregg B says:

        Yeah sorry, I know American football is different to rugby (although I’m not au fait with either game) but I just couldn’t resist lumping them together when they involve big tough (and slightly mad) men carrying, throwing, kicking and often brute forcing the ball forwards! Now that you mention it though, I’ll have to look into the differences between the two games.

      • waltorious says:

        I figured you were just lumping them together, but I try to keep the blog factual. Heh.

        I actually find rugby really interesting because it sort of sits between American football and soccer. It’s hard to see why American football and the football played in the rest of the world have the same name, but rugby is similar enough to both that it makes sense.

  2. Isaac says:

    That looks great! Makes me want to play Dungeon Bowl! http://www.games-workshop.com/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m1340001_Dungeon_Bowl.pdf By the way, I love your blog Waltorious. You make me want to play roguelikes.

    • waltorious says:

      Thanks! Most roguelikes are free, so there’s nothing stopping you from trying some out. There will definitely be some learning involved, though… they’re designed for the long haul.

      I’ve actually never played Blood Bowl, or Dungeon Bowl, but I heard that Dungeon Bowl is not as good. Blood Bowl sounds awesomely ridiculous, so I really should try it sometime.

      • Isaac says:

        I cannot speak of the quality of the video game versions of those games (which commercially seem to have replaced the board game versions) but I absolutely love the board games. Dungeon Bowl is a fun variant but, absolutely straight up Blood Bowl is the way to go.

        As for roguelikes, I am taking baby steps. I played a bunch of FTL last year and this year I want to try Spelunky and Away Shuffle Dungeon.

      • waltorious says:

        Spelunky is awesome. Although I should note I’ve only played the original, free version, not the new HD version that’s on XBLA. I’d never heard of Away: Shuffle Dungeon, but since I don’t have a DS I sadly won’t be able to check it out.

        If you’re looking to try a more traditional roguelike, Dungeons of Dredmor is a good introduction, although it is not free. I also quite like Brogue, which provides a good introduction to ASCII graphics as well as simply being a great (and free) roguelike.

      • Isaac says:

        Oh crap, I started playing Spelunky. I just blew through the entire third area taking no damage on my third time making it past the second one and I know it will never go that easy for me again. It makes me want to never touch the game again.

      • waltorious says:

        Ah, but it will go that easy for you again! When I first started playing Spelunky it was a major achievement just to reach the second area. Now, I can win more often than not, to the point that I started taking intentionally difficult routes (like robbing all the shops) as an extra challenge.

        I totally understand wanting to take a break after a particularly successful run, though. I’ve done that with countless roguelikes, but I always come back to them eventually.

  3. Isaac says:

    Gold key????? Tunnel Man, you are a sonufabitch.

    • waltorious says:

      That’s new in the XBLA version. The original just required money. Still, once I got better at the game, I didn’t use shortcuts much. It’s easier to get a high score, and to prepare yourself for later levels, if you start from the beginning. But the shortcuts are useful for learning new areas and how to survive them.

      • Isaac says:

        Oh, interesting. The way the XBLA Tunnel Man works is interesting. To complete the second tunnel requires a shotgun and to complete the third requires the key from the mine area. This forces the player to attack shopkeepers and then forces them to start at the beginning. Very smart.

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