Developer: Die Gute Fabrik
Publisher: Die Gute Fabrik
Platform: PS3, PS4, PC, Mac, Linux
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Rated: E 10+
This review is based on the PS3 version of the game
What drives you to truly consider buying a party game? Is it the mini-games available? The people you'll play them with? Or is it just an impulse buy, something you pick up when a party's going on? Whatever the reason, you're here today, wondering if Sportsfriends is worth your and your friends' time. That depends mainly on one thing—the number of people you have available to play with you that also enjoy silly party games.
Sportsfriends has a collection of four games to satisfy your party game cravings: Barabariball, Johann Sebastian Joust, Super Pole Riders, and Hokra. Since these games are pretty vastly different from one another, it's best if we look at them separately.
Barabariball is a two or four player game in which the team needs to get the ball in their goal, with the goal itself being a body of water on one side of the field. This is much easier said than done, as your opponent can wrestle the ball from you and even recover the ball from the water if they're fast enough. Players can pick from one of three characters, and from there pick one of two special moves unique to each character, giving a few options to choose from.
Out of all the games, Barabariball is the most complicated, but even so it's a relatively simple game to get after a round or two. However, after a time it can get a little boring; all games boil down to are cleverly using the number of jumps you have remaining the psyche out your opponent and get the ball into your goal. This, unfortunately, makes it more about defensive than offense, and tends to make for low score, low tension games. At least there's a variety of stages to play on in order to spice things up, keeping the game interesting enough for a few repeated sessions.
Johann Sebastian Joust
Johann Sebastian Joust is an odd game, but arguably the best of the bunch, depending on your group. This game is for two to seven players, and while the use of the Move is recommended, the normal PS3 controller offers the same experience. In it, you and your friends stand in a circle, with the controller in hand a bit off to the side. Once the calming classical music starts, the goal is to jostle the other players while not being jostled yourself. If the controller moves too much, it'll rumble and you'll be out, and the last unjostled player standing is the winner.
If you have a large group of people that don't mind getting a little... rough with one another, Johann Sebastian Joust is a blast to play. Having such a physical game ends up being far more fun than you'd think at first glance. No matter what tactics you use to get the other players reeling, it's unlikely that you won't have fun doing it.
Super Pole Riders
Super Pole Riders involves you, and up to three other people, using pole vaulters to try to get a ball attached by a line into the goal. Of course, this is always easier said than done. In this game, the vaulter and the pole itself are controlled separately. This results in a rather difficult time, as you tend to fight the controls more than you fight your opponent. It also makes for hectic shenanigans when four players are involved, as you are trampling and vaulting over one another to try and get to the ball.
Once that silly novelty wears out, though, there's nothing else to really enjoy about the game. What was funny before tends to become dull and even frustrating, as the pole mechanics can be hard to grasp. Still, the novelty is fun while it lasts, but Super Pole Riders doesn't have much in the way of staying value.
The final game Sportsfriends has to offer is an unusual form of minimalist soccer. Hokra requires four players and allows up to eight, and pits players in teams against one another. Teams must work together to get the ball into their goal; once it is in there, a meter of sorts begins to fill up, and whoever fills it up completely wins. If a player has the ball, they can try and pass it to another player before it gets taken away; if they do not have the ball, they can dash to try and overcome the player with the ball.
Hokra can provide a fair amount of fun, but it can be difficult to get enough people together to play a round; when you have four people together, they would probably rather play Super Pole Riders or Johann Sebastian Joust than a more simple game. Controllers would also be an issue, but split controller play is offered if you don't manage to have eight PS3 controllers. It's also worth noting that Hokra has a level editor, so you can create new arenas for you and your friends to play in, but given the nature of the game there's not much you can really do, and the title has a fair amount of arenas to start off with.
Like many party games, Sportsfriends is a little hard to recommend in a general sense, due to the almost purely multiplayer nature of them. Sportsfriends is not a single player experience in the least, and those going in hoping for that will be severely disappointed. Those that only have one or two gaming friends willing to play will also, for the most part, come away disappointed; while Barabariball does well with only two players, the other three really only thrive in a larger group scenario. Requiring more people doesn't make Sportfriends a worse game, but it does limit the overall enjoyment you'll get from the title; as long as you're aware of this limitation, Sportfriends can be a fun, if somewhat short, romp.
+ Having a variety of games helps cater to different tastes
+ The How To Play sections explain the game quickly and well, so new players can jump right in
- Not all the games have any kind of staying power
- While most of the games allow for two players, they only really shine with larger groups
Editor's Note: Due to the different nature of the games in this compilation (and the fact that they require multiple people in order to play and enjoy), the reviewer has decided not to give a general, numerical score but will instead let the review speak for itself.
If you can gather a large group, Sportsfriends can be a blast to play. If the amount of local gaming friends you can muster up is limited, though, this party title will only languish in your hard drive.
Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher.