Shoot em out
It occurred to me when looking at Mia Hamm Soccer Shootout today that the football genre on the GameBoy isn't underpopulated, it's just that none of the games are very good, to the extent that most of them sink into obscurity within weeks of release. One company that aims to break this trend is Aqua Pacific, UK-based developers of Mia Hamm Soccer Shootout on the GameBoy Color. Okay okay, it's clearly a game with its roots firmly embedded across the Atlantic in the USA. Mia Hamm is apparently one of (if not the) best footballing ladies in the world, and pleasingly (for the yanks) she's a member of the US national soccer team (I hate saying that, it's football dang nammit). But anyway, although I'd like to dive into the controversial topic of self-important American sports simulations and how they are living under the misguided impression that anyone is impressed by their footballing prowess, lets deftly sidestep it entirely and address Mia Hamm, the game. In case you weren't aware, Mia Hamm is the little sister (seemed appropriate) to Mia Hamm on the N64, due out late this year, and is being developed on the side, with the intention of complementing the "full" version by allowing gamers to get their footy kicks on the move. Ho-hum. In spite of the marketing spiel, it looks quite approachable, with several difficulty levels, different camera angles (well, two) and three different play modes.
Viewed from either the classic isometric viewpoint that is frequently seen on pocket football titles or the Sensible Soccer-like overhead view, the player gets to either take on or join the team of Mia Hamm, although it's not clear whether her character will be souped up to emphasize the game's license yet. The play modes are Arcade, Tournament and Single Match, all being pretty self-explanatory. Match length can be set to two, five or ten minutes, so it's not intended to grab and hold your attention like its big sister (dammit I'm trying to be consistent). On the other hand, it does give you the option of changing team strategy via a sort of tactics adjustment menu, which is a step above and beyond a lot of handheld footy titles. With 31 teams (each with differing strategies and such) it should be enough to impress its target audience, which seems to be young boys and specifically girls. Sadly though, it may be hard for the game to sell to the GameBoy's usual audience, as the players and game in general focuses upon women's football, not the men's game. As such the names will be unfamiliar and that's enough to put off impressionable youngsters I've found. Nevertheless, Mia Hamm's does seem to extol virtues, and if it is what it says it is - a swift-action football game for youngsters on the move, it should go far. I also have the utmost respect for its developers, publishers and Mia Hamm herself, as I'm told half of the profits raised by the game will go toward the Mia Hamm Foundation, a non-profit, national organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness for bone marrow diseases and to developing more opportunities for young women to participate in sports.
It's hard to tell at this stage whether Mia Hamm Soccer Shootout will set the world alight or not, but with a recognizable hero (especially in America where she's a national icon), some good ideas and specifically a noble cause we really hope it does. Release Date - Late 2000