capsule review

iOS App Review: Football kicking games

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder NFL Kicker! HD

  • Generic Company Place Holder NFL Kicker!

  • Generic Company Place Holder Flick Kick Field Goal

The NFL season is over. And if you, like most good people in the world, are a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, the season certainly didn’t end on a high note. A pair of simple iOS games will help you cling, desperately, to professional football, as you suffer through the tedium of basketball, hockey, and baseball. And instead of attempting to simulate every kind of gridiron gameplay, these games focus on just element of football: the kicking.

Flick Kick Field Goal is a $1 game from PikPok; it’s optimized for all iOS devices. (A free version with fewer game modes and too-frequent video ad interstitials is called Flick Kick Field Goal Kickoff.) NFL Kicker from Full Fat costs $1 for iPhone; NFL Kicker HD for iPad costs $3.

Flicker Take All: In Flick Kick Field Goal, you swipe the ball toward the goal posts and hope your aim is true.

(For the sake of completeness, I’ll also point out that my colleague Philip Michaels reviewed a forgettable field-goal kicking game called Field Goal Frenzy that has done little to distinguish itself in the two years since our last review.)

The basic gesture you’ll use in each game a finger flick. A swipe up on the ball will send it flying towards your target. In each game, wind can become a factor, so you angle your flick as necessary to accomodate for it.

What flicking a football toward the field goalposts lacks in realism, it makes up for in addictive fun. Every football fan has excoriated a professional NFL kicker for missing an easy goal; excoriating one’s one self for doing the same thing is a perverse pleasure—especially since you can make up for it with one more game.

Kick-Off: In multiplayer mode, you and your opponent take turns until someone misses too many times.

Flick Kick Field Goal focuses solely on aiming for the goal posts. The $1 version of the game comprises five modes: Arcade mode (which is all about successful ficks), Precision (which cares about whether you perfectly split the uprights), Sudden Death (where you earn extra lives with dead-center kicks), Time Attack (in which you score goals as fast as you can before time runs out), and Practice (in which you just kick and kick and kick). The game also supports multiplayer mode, either via Game Center or pass-and-play. When you go against an opponent, you take turns kicking until someone misses too many times; whichever player’s accuracy average is higher wins.

NFL Kicker is a deeper game in some ways. First off, it’s officially licensed by the league, which means you can play as your favorite team. The graphics in NFL Kicker aim for more photorealism than Flick Kick—and the app delivers on that front. NFL Kicker also offers more modes, including some that focus on punts instead of field goals: Basic Skills (for simple kicking), In The Zone (how many kicks can you make before you miss three times), Coffin Corner (for punts that go out of bounds just before the goal line), Time Attack (akin to the identically named mode in Flick Kick), Hit The Uprights (where you aim for the goalposts themselves), and Coffin Corner Pro (which requires even more precise punting). Most of those modes start out locked; you unlock them over time by performing well in the already-available game modes.

Teeming With Teams: NFL Kicker sports real NFL teams and logos and more realistic graphics than Flick Kick Field Goal.

In addition to its detailed imagery, NFL Kicker also needlessly includes an announcer. Unless you thrive on immediate aural feedback—“Great kick!”, “Amazing kick!”, “Terrific kick!”, “Awful kick!”—you’ll want to mute that right quick. The game also sports unnecessary celebratory cut-scenes after particularly impressive foot feats, but really, if you’ve seen one video game football player backflip into a split, you’ve seen them all.

I like NFL Kicker’s punting mode, although I think it’s rather challenging and I’m not particularly good at it. But on the whole, if I’m in the mood for a kicking game, I keep choosing Flick Kick Field Goal instead. Though the latter game includes fewer modes overall, it offers multiplayer, which NFL Kicker doesn’t. And Flick Kick’s much quicker to play, too; NFL Kicker is saddled with long loading screens, before and after each mode you play. You’ll see occasional loading screens in Flick Kick too, but they’re both less frequent and quicker to vanish.

NFL Kicker also adds one other gameplay mechanic that I don’t love: After your initial flick of the ball, you can swipe in a given direction once while the ball is in flight to further influence its path. Sure, using one’s index finger to launch a football towards a given target isn’t in any way a faithful simulacrum of kicking. But allowing a follow-up swipe of directional urging is a foolishly tacked-on feature, until and unless the developers can prove that my violent gesturing after releasing the bowling ball has any impact on its journey towards the pins.

Both Flick Kick Field Goal and NFL Kicker are fun games, but only the former achieves the rank of Very Good. If you can do without punting—and trust me, you can—Flick Kick’s cartoony looks and multiplayer mode offer plenty of flicking kicking entertainment.

[Staff writer Lex Friedman suspects non-Eagles fans might prefer a different kind of flicking where he is concerned.]

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder NFL Kicker! HD

  • Generic Company Place Holder NFL Kicker!

  • Generic Company Place Holder Flick Kick Field Goal

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