Inazuma Eleven – Review


Title: Inazuma Eleven

Genre: Football RPG

System: Nintendo DS

Developer: Level-5

Publisher: Nintendo

Let’s just get one thing straight before I start this review – before the announcement of Inazuma Eleven I had absolutely no interest whatsoever in football. At all. With the exception of my primary school days when I joined the school team because I fancied the striker. But that was long ago and I’m past all that now. So when I heard that Level-5 were bringing out a football orientated RPG something strange happened – I was intrigued. When I posted on Twitter about the game some of my gamer-type followers thought I was mad. “It’s being developed by Level-5,”I would retort, “it can’t be that bad!” And I was right, it really is quite good.

The game surrounds budding goalie Mark Evans, who longs to snap his deteriorating school football team back into shape. Unfortunately the headmaster plans to disband the whole team if they fail to win their next match. Even more unfortunately, the next match is against the Royal Academy – a champion team renowned for their special skills, fearsome formations and terrifying tactics. Poor Evans is preparing for the worst when fortune strikes; a rather spikey-headed transfer student shows up with at Raimon School, who says he’s a dab hand at shooting. The storyline is excellent and deeply involving; each match you play feels like all or nothing. There is a great sense of personal achievement and satisfaction when you win a match or steal a football off some sumo wrestlers in a ‘random battle’. Level-5 create unique characters with individual traits and personalities which you really do connect to. Although there are nearly 1000 different playable players which you can enrol on your squad, I personally found it hard to part with my original 11 team mates – let alone allow other characters to take their place!

The gameplay itself is solid; you can choose between using your stylus or D-pad for RPG stages of hunting around the school grounds and surrounding area, and then mad stylus tapping and sliding for the actual matches. The only issue I found with the gameplay was the way in which Level-5 points out directly where you need to go next with a big arrow, which I personally feel goes against the whole nature of RPGs. While there are still the odd treasure chest, random battles and colourful NPCs to stumble across, Inazuma Eleven lacks the fundamental element of adventure that is always prominent in most JRPGS (take Xenoblade for example).

The anime cut-scenes are truly beautiful and make you really look forward to the next big event in hope that another lovely cut-scene will pop up. The voice acting however, well, let’s just say I’d advise turning the volume down unless you can cope with overtly cockney Dick Van Dyke accents and constant “Awrigh’ lads!!”. Oh, and did I mention the start up song? Just wait and see for yourself…

Inazuma Eleven has plenty on offer, functioning as a cross between a Pokemon RPG game and a strategy game (but it’s certainly no Advance Wars). As you travel around with your team you will encounter random battles with other sports teams, which if you win, will earn you skill points to level up your players. You can also equip your team with items to enhance their performance, my favourite item being a ‘Dirty Bracelet’ which apparently improves your ‘Guts’. As you level up you will be able to take on stronger teams and acquire more players for your club.

The strategic elements works within the football matches themselves, which includes real-time play where you dribble and pass by sliding your stylus, but then allows you to pause the match to switch formation and bench players. While playing a match you will encounter stages when you can intercept a pass or use a special move to get past a defender. You will be given a choice of what move to use; for example ‘tackle’ or a ‘sliding tackle’ – the second choice being slightly more risky and can often lead to a foul. The game will then calculate using your players statistics whether your move will be successful or not. You will then witness a short cut-scene to determine the outcome and then the play will continue as normal. But it’s not all down to stats. Your opposing team might have special skills too, for example rival players Occult use a move called ‘Phantom Shot’ which powers up a kick so much that it leaves your designated goalie pretty helpless unless you happen to counter the attack with Evan’s ‘God Hand’ skill.

Conclusion

Level-5 have really cracked it with this one. Inazuma Eleven has done away with the tired RPG formula and created something fresh and exciting, with a captivating story, loveable characters, beautiful cut-scenes and some real heart-stopping action at times. If you can forgive the occasional cockney accent and overt sign-posting to the next event, then you will definitely enjoy your time with the Raimon school team – I know I have.

Katy’s score: 9/10

Comments
One Response to “Inazuma Eleven – Review”
  1. Know that I know more on the game I am seriously considering it. And I’ve never been into to football let alone a footy game.

    Like

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