To celebrate the World Cup and also to show off some of its potentially very cool tech features its Chrome browser is capable of, Google released three little soccer-themed minigames today. They are extremely buggy, which is a problem for what is basically a tech demo, but when they work, they’re quite fun, and they show off what could be some very interesting new tech.
The project is cumulatively called “Kick With Chrome,” and includes three separate games: Infinite Dribble, Space Kick, and Shootout. Infinite Dribble is an infinite runner in the vein of Temple Run or Flappy Bird, requiring you to move a soccer ball past an infinite array of defenders, weaving in and out and forever moving forward. Space Kick requires you to place a soccer shoe where a ball can bounce on it; you reposition the shoe after each bounce by drawing a line on the screen, and move upward from a soccer field all the way to space. Shootout is, um, a shootout. You try to flick the ball in the goal with your finger.
All three games use some fun little innovations from Google. They aren’t apps; they all work in a browser–most HTML5 browsers. (That’s a change from Google’s usual experiments, which require you to use Chrome.) One trick: enabling real-time communication between your phone/tablet’s browser and your computer’s browser. Infinite Dribble, for example, lets you use your phone or tablet as a sort of wireless gamepad or controller: you can tilt your mobile device and watch the ball obey accordingly on your computer. Cool! Another trick: the fact that the game can recognize your tilts at all. Not that accelerometer-based mobile games aren’t common, but seeing these hardware features utilized a web app is a step forward.
So these are cool tricks, but for whatever reason, these demos are extremely buggy. We had trouble getting our phones to actually connect with our computers, we had to repeatedly reload the page (which often resulted in a blank page) when a game froze for whatever reason, some games are calibrated improperly (like Infinite Dribble, which is far too sensitive to be fun when using a mobile device as a controller) and I personally never managed to get multiplayer working. There’s a good chance it’s because we’re jerks who use iPhones and not Android devices But! We admire the effort. And go team USA. U-S-A! U-S-A!