Oh how I crave my youth. Those days where I used to spend all afternoon and early evening after school playing football with my friends, not a care in the world. Sadly those days are gone and I have apparently all grown up. However it seems that I am not the only one who has grown up and the football sim has also grown up with me since that heady time with more recently, FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer dominating the genre. However to get to this point there have been many, many casualties that include franchises and one offs such as: Sensible soccer, Adidas Pro Soccer, Total Football, Three Lions. I could go on, but I won’t. Not here anyway. Nowadays FIFA and Pro Evo are the only football franchises that matter and realism is the target being striven for every year, with details so miniscule being picked up on by the developers and their vocal fans. It would seem that jumpers are no longer acceptable for goalposts anymore.
Not all is lost however and developers Honeyslug, who are responsible for Frobisher Says and the upcoming Hohokum, have attempted something different. VERY different. Passing Time, which is available for PS Vita via the Mobile section of the PSN store, takes football in a different direction away from the stadium of the big boys FIFA and Pro Evo and sets up its own game in the local park. The game sets its stall up as a touch based football game where you do not have actual control over the players, only the path of the ball. This means careful planning and keeping an eye on where your players are at all times.
There are 5 modes to the game with matches, not even the headline act, which are 6 a side affairs against the AI. You can compete in one-off matches or play in a league against international sides. Passing mode asks you to pass the ball around your players while opposing players attempt to close you down to win the ball from you. This mode can be surprisingly frantic and also introduces a fireball that can be activated after a certain amount of passes are completed, the fireball can then be used to fry your opponents and give you more time to complete more passes. This mode can also be surprisingly addictive with the smallest of errors ruining a good run. Challenge mode asks you to complete tasks that have certain conditions attached to them. Completing these challenges actually unlocks stars that you can assign to your very own ‘Frankenstein’ team in the options menu. Here you can assign stars to your players’ control or power ratings, edit their names, heads, kit and team name for use in the matches section of the game. Having your own custom team is a nice touch and earning stars through challenge mode becomes even more important for the sake of your own team. Free Kick mode and Corner Mode fill out the remaining modes, and are essentially the same thing. The players are set up and you need to choose which players to feed the ball to for an eventual goal. It can feel surprisingly strategic and brings another welcome dimension to the game. In my opinion it may have been better to combine Free Kicks and Corners into one Set piece mode but I’m not complaining and the variety on offer is very welcome
Graphics are reminiscent of 8-bit games with a slight twist on the players all looking like extras from Frobisher Says. Of course as Honeyslug also developed that game it would make sense and it actually adds to the games overall charm and quirkiness.
Sound though is pretty basic, with crowd noises and the referees whistle being pretty much it for ambience. Wembley stadium it is not, but as the game is not striving for realism does that really matter?
Controls are all touch based and all you are really doing is picking out players to pass the ball to, easy enough to learn in under 10 secs. The game also drops you into a small passing game, a sort of tutorial if you will. However there can be problems with the game confusing crosses with shots at goal sometimes and the lack of accuracy passing to players who are not on-screen at times, but keep your passes short and sweet and you wont have any problems.
Passing Time maybe a little rough around the edges for many people, but it does take football and takes it in a different direction away from the big two, and the mobile platform may be the perfect place to get away with it! I could not help but enjoy myself with Passing Time and I hope that Sony give the green light for a native PS Vita version in the future. I really do think that with more time and care this could be something very special for Vita owners.
With only FIFA stamping any kind of authority on PS Vita it’s refreshing to see something different emerge from the shadows, okay it certainly won’t leave EA quaking in their boots, but at the very least it is something VERY different that deserves a look and should serve to remind us that you can still use jumpers for goalposts!
At A Glance
- Title: Passing Time
- Publisher: SCEE
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Cross Play: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 45Mb