American football juke moves and a challenging soccer game: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps are both games, with an American football skills challenge type of game, and a long-awaited soccer (football) game with unique onscreen controls to pull off advanced moves.


Apple released an update today for iPhone which addresses some issues and fixes some crashes in specific situations. According to Apple, iPhone 3.1.2 resolves a sporadic issue that may cause the iPhone to not wake from sleep; an intermittent issue that may interrupt cellular network services until restart; and fixes a bug that could cause an occasional crash during video streaming. If you've experienced any of these issues (or even if you haven't), make sure to plug your iPhone into iTunes to get the latest update. Be aware that the update is over 200MB so will probably take some time to get through the process. When you're done, come back and check out my latest apps!

This week's apps are both games, with an American football skills challenge type of game, and a long-awaited soccer (football) game with unique onscreen controls to pull off advanced moves.

Backbreaker Football
The spin move is extremely effective (and high scoring) if you hit it at the right moment (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Backbreaker Football (99 cents for a limited time) is not a "complete" football game like Madden 2010 or NFL 2010, but instead focuses on the challenge of running around defenders to make touchdowns. Control your runner by tilting your phone--forward to run and left and right to turn. Onscreen buttons give you a variety of moves to make defenders miss including right and left juke moves, spin moves, and a turbo button to break free for the touchdown. There's also a showboat button so you can high-step into the end zone. Each move has a certain point value and when you string moves together (or showboat for more yards before the endzone) you get more points to add to your score.

The great thing about Backbreaker Football is that it doesn't take an enormous amount of time to play a few waves (running the distance of the field), so it's easy to get some quick playing time in. You get two game modes including Challenge and Endurance. Each challenge round lasts 10 waves as you try to get past defenders to score touchdowns. As you progress, red lines will block out parts of the field forcing you to dodge defenders within a smaller space. The Endurance mode has you run through wave after wave (50 waves) with an ever increasing number of defenders and difficulty. Get high scores to unlock extra items like different uniforms and new touchdown celebrations. Overall, if you're looking for an American football game minus the need to play an entire game or sift through giant playbooks, Backbreaker Football offers enough football action to be a lot of fun.

Use the radar at the bottom of the screen to make sure you have someone to pass to before hitting the button (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)
FIFA 10 ($9.99) is mostly a great soccer game, letting you play full games in exhibition and tournament modes and offers a control scheme that's fairly effective once you get the hang of it. You can play as the whole team (with the player switch occuring once a player receives the ball or with a button on defense) or you can play the "Be a Pro" mode to control and advance a single player on the team. The biggest strength of FIFA 10 certainly is that you can play any of 570 teams across 30 leagues with a total of 12,620 players, each with their own skill set. This amazing amount of team choice will appeal to hardcore soccer fans because you'll likely be able to play your favorite team, no matter how obscure.

FIFA 10 for iPhone obviously follows a long line of console soccer games (of which I've played many) and while it does a fairly good job, the control system can be difficult to master. You get buttons for passing and shooting, but to pull off more advanced moves like through passes or slide tackles, you need to hit multiple buttons in succession (A to B to A, for example). It takes some getting used to and you won't be able to pull off some moves every time simply because of the lack of physical buttons, but I found it to be effective with some practice. Overall, FIFA 10 satisfies the need to get in a game of soccer, and even without all the extras of console versions, offers enough to be worth the money for soccer fans.

What are your favorite iPhone apps? Does Backbreaker Football have enough features to be your favorite football game? Is FIFA 10 the soccer game you've been waiting for? Do you know how hard it was to decide how to differentiate between the two sports without offending fans here at home or abroad? Let me know in the comments!

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.