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Jul. 2, 2014 9:48 am

Baltimore developer scores goal with ‘Pele’ soccer app

The game, released in April for iOS and Android, bears the name and likeness of the Brazilian soccer legend. It's seen more than a half-million downloads, according to its maker, Bully! Entertainment.

"Pele: King of Football" has players retrace the Brazilian soccer legend's journey from the favelas to the world stage.

(Screenshot from "Pele: King of Football")

After surviving the Group of Death, Team USA’s World Cup hopes were snuffed out Tuesday in extra time against Belgium.

Though Americans are now just spectators through the quarterfinals and on, a Baltimore developer is taking advantage of the soccer craze with a new mobile app.

In April, Locust Point-based Bully! Entertainment released “Pele: King of Football” for iOS and Android. It’s seen more than a half-million downloads between both platforms.

“Pele” isn’t the first game to bear the Brazilian soccer legend’s name and likeness, but it’s certainly more full-featured and realistic than the 1980 Atari 2600 title “Pele’s Soccer.”

“Our involvement in branded entertainment just made it a real nice fit, and we’re big soccer — well, football — and Pele fans here, so it’s something we definitely took to heart,” said Bully! founder and creative director Carlson Bull.

The game’s mechanics are pretty simple. Players swipe straight ahead or diagonally to shoot the ball into the goal, or can swipe an arc to curve the ball around defenders. Players earn crowns and match balls to unlock levels or retry kicks. Crowns can also be purchased through the game.

The game, available free for both Apple and Droid devices, includes the time trial “Pele Blitz” mode, head to head multiplayer and a career mode.

“It parallels to some extent to his career, starting in the favelas [Brazilian slums], rising up through Santos [FC in Brazil] and national play up to the World Cup-type stage,” Bull said. “So we tried to give it a little structure, really according to Pele’s background.”

The game also has a local touch. In January, developers used a studio at Frederick Douglass High School to do motion capture work for the game with two Baltimore Blast players, Lucas Roque and Brazilian-American Denison Cabral.

In addition to mirroring real-life, “Pele: King of Football” comes with real-life prizes. Players can enter to win items as simple as T-shirts, all the way up to autographed photos of Pele or even a trip to see World Cup games in Brazil.

“We’ve already sent out a whole bunch of shirts and signed pictures and a whole number of different things,” Bull said.

In addition to the “Pele” app, Bully! recently released an iOS and Android game for Kellogg’s supporting a marketing partnership for the film “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” It’s seen nearly one million downloads, according to a company spokeswoman. The company also made an app for the cereal maker supporting the Superman film “Man of Steel.”

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Tyler Waldman

Tyler Waldman is lead reporter for Technical.ly Baltimore. A Towson University graduate and former local editor for Patch.com, Tyler has also written and photographed for publications including the Baltimore Brew, Howard County Times and Towson Times. He lives in Charles Village.

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