Sitting at the pub one lazy Sunday afternoon in December, a friend of mine introduced me to a game that would have an impact on my life almost as dramatic as Football Manager. That game was - and is - iPhone app Flick Kick Football.
Okay, so I may be a little guilty of histrionics in that introduction; unlike Football Manager, Flick Kick Football has never caused me to forget to eat or deprived me of sleep. However, it is ridiculously addictive.
I must say, my initial response when the aforementioned friend demonstrated the game, was one of bemusement. The basic premise is to use a flicking motion to direct a ball into a goal from various positions inside and outside the penalty area, with the power, speed and curl of the ball all affected by the arc your finger takes on the screen.
I know what you are thinking, I've been there myself. It sounds fairly repetitive and how many different angles can there really be to attempt to score from? "Don't worry, you will be hooked soon," came the friend's reply to my similarly mocking assessment.
And sure enough he was right.
Like any game that requires you to record a highscore and then try to beat it - Flick Kick Football rapidly becomes a game of obsession. On the train, on the bus, by the water cooler; I relish any chance to have a quick go at scoring some goals. My current highscore is 89.
The game, of course, is a little bit more complex than I have painted it so far. In basic Arcade mode, the one in which you try to score as many goals as possible, you start off with one life and can build that up to as many as three, with accurate strikes (ones that hug the post and nestle in the top corner) rewarded with a bonus life. Here is an example of how the game is played (note that this person's highscore is 59 - yes, that's 30 less than mine).
The Arcade mode is my personal favourite but you can also hone your skills in Practice mode, really reap the rewards of accurate shooting in Bullseye mode, try to beat the clock in Time Attack mode and there's even a multiplayer option available for battles against mates.
Makers Pik Pok boast of the "unique 'Golden Era' of football presentation", suggesting you can "immerse yourself in graphics that will bring the nostalgia of the era back". Battling through the flowery language I think they are just trying to say that the basic-looking graphics are dead good.
An added feature that I have just discovered is the "OpenFeint Leaderboards and Achievements" area, which enables you to compare your scores with people around the globe. It is also possible to check your overall game statistics; something that has really shown me that I need to get out more.
I have made a total of 8293 Flick Kicks, have an accuracy rating of 77% and have played the game for a total of 9 hours, 38 minutes and 20 seconds, 21 seconds, 22 seconds, 23 seconds...