Certain games aren’t meant to be played wholly “digital” — for example, how can tapping a touch-screen compare with pounding a pair of flippers as a steel ball repels off a bumper on its way to scoring thousands of points?
The same is true of Foosball — where eye and hand coordination need to be almost instinctive or you just look plain bad. And for anyone who doesn’t know how to play the game, here’s the fast skinny: alternating “players” are mated to rods lining up above the gaming field, so that if twirled just right, either the player’s head or “feet” will impact the ball that is being driven to the opposing player’s goal. Nominally speaking, you have one person at each side –facing the other — so to work the rods, although if the Foosball table is big enough, it’s possible to have teams of players working together.
The biggest obstacle about playing Foosball is that you have to be somewhere that has one available — limiting the opportunities to practice and taking money out of your pocket in the meantime (add to that buying your own table tends to be pretty expensive). The solution would be a way to “bring the Foosball table home” without having to make a major investment; hence the Classic Match Foosball’s value at $99 retail.
The plastic chassis is larger on all sides than that of the first generation iPad. The table must first be assembled: pop the legs into the bottom, turn it over and stand it up. Insert the socketed end of each of the rods into the holes on each side of the chassis — making sure to line up the nubs so that they “click” into place. Once this is done, pull each rod in and out a few times to ensure that it will stay seated during game play. Then take your iPad, having loaded in the gaming app, and place it flat on top of the Foosball table. Gravity holds it in place. A set of rubber pads are included to place at each end of the chassis to better seat an iPad 3 or 4, as they’re a bit skinnier than models 1 or 2. Now run the app.
The final step is to push each of the rods in and then out so that they can “calibrate” to the iPad. This is a mechanical effect where the vibrations from the rods affect the iPad’s accelerometer (this is what I believe) — there’s no physical contact, although there is a USB socket at one end of the chassis that can be plugged into a USB port, with another socket on an inside edge that can then be plugged into the iPad to provide charging/sync capabilities and also helps to stabilize it against movement.
The Foosball app is provided free of charge through the Apple app store. The game set up is exactly as you’d expect: pick a team, customize their appearance and decide whether to go against a human or AI foe. The graphics are sharp and well-defined so that there’s no question as to what is being seen. Additionally, the graphics have a slight 3D feel to them so they tend to “pop” at you. And the sound is right on — especially the “thunk” of the ball as it moves across the play field, hitting and being hit by the “players” swinging away merrily. The game itself provides a top-down view that is identical to what would be seen on a real table (minus the gunk accumulated from gamers over time) and works best when played inside — as the iPad’s screen can glare unpleasantly and make seeing the playing field difficult. But short of that physical limit, the Foosball table can go anywhere for playing anywhere.
Bottom line: Classic Match Foosball lives up to its name. The combination of digital (app) and reality (the chassis) make for a similar experience as would be found on a table in a bar, restaurant or arcade.
- 8 2-axis control bars
- Replays of scoring provides bragging rights
- Locking tabs on rods can break off if mishandled during insertion into the chassis
- Sound effects could be louder
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.