When I see a title with the word 'Fever' in the title, my mind is drawn to games like Rhythm Heaven Fever, a quick-moving puzzle that is entertaining for nearly every second of play. When it comes down to naming conventions, 'Fever' has connotations of speed, entertainment, and a sense of pacing and interactivity.
90 Minute Fever delivers on none of these connotations.
That's not to say that 90 Minute Fever deserves to be judged solely on its name. In fact, the low-key nature of the game and its reliance on hidden stats and perceived chance lends itself well to a more casual style of play. The game is a football simulation game, with players forming a football club and having the ability to transfer players, play in friendly or competition matches, and watch their club stats go up and down as the fictional season progresses. The gameplay itself is very passive; the clubs are represented at the bottom of the screen, one on top and one on the bottom of a bar that moves along as the game continues. At their appropriate minute mark, goals by either side are represented by a small soccer ball icon; yellow and red cards are represented similarly. There is a neat 'commentary' feature which generates game conversation using the rosters of the two clubs, but it gets repetitive very quickly. My first match (which, as I will discuss later, took a while to get to) had commentary that was taken up by about 60% by the phrase “[Player A] crosses to [Player B]; [Player B] towers over the defenders.” The matches themselves go by quickly, and the passivity on the part of the player (short of switching out injured/red-carded players or clicking “start match/2nd half”) makes the game well-suited to jumping in, playing a couple of matches, and then exiting out.
Upon joining the game, players are placed into a league. I was put in “Qualifying League 12.” There were about ten other players in my league, but none of them were online. Nobody in my league had any sort of record – this is, of course, to be expected in a game that is still very much in alpha with a big online component. All that it did, however, was make the entire experience feel very empty. I didn't feel like I was part of a league, and the only matches I could participate in were friendlies against online players. While those went smoothly, it would have been nice to be able to see some progression, rather than just sitting at the top of my assigned league.
The passive nature of the gameplay of 90 Minute Fever clashes with the lack of instruction regarding the intricate menu system.
There's a settings menu that is very clearly marked, and in this menu are the expected settings and one that says “game guide.” Clicking this opens an out-of-game browser window which redirects to a wiki page entitled “game guide.” This page is under construction at the moment. There is no guide – the player simply has to work out how to start a match (supposing, as was my case, the “request match” option did not work, as there were no players in my league) and every other possible mechanic of the game on their own. There are moderators online under an “assistance” tab, but each time I tried to click this, the game crashed. This also happened when trying to click on various other tabs in the menu, past the ones prominently displayed on the main menu.
The overall feeling I get from 90 Minute Fever is that the developers are nowhere near what could be accomplished. Of course, the game is in alpha at the moment, but the obfuscation of the details regarding mechanics, organization, and overall construction of the game menus bar it from getting a pass. Even without the distractions as such, the game just isn't fun without a large enough userbase. Maybe with a few hundred people playing at one time, where each person requesting a match can actually get one, and not have to challenge random people on the “online” list to friendly matches, the game would be a more impressive, if a bit boring, football simulation.
As it is, the mechanics are mediocre, the organization of the GUI is disastrous, and the glitches causing the game to crash are simply too many to make it enjoyable.