A football game for fans of the show.
For those of you in the UK that have not heard of Inazuma Eleven, it is an animated series about a high school football team and their various adventures, currently airing on CiTV.The show originated in Japan and has spawned a number of videogames. For those of you who don’t watch children’s TV, you may remember the two Inazuma DS games that made their way into our stores. Both were developed by Level-5, those of Professor Layton fame, and both played like a football version of Pokémon, being RPGs in which the player had to assemble the perfect team of football players rather than the perfect team of Pokémon. When the action took to the pitch, the beautiful game was translated into a strange tactical affair using the stylus. It was very odd, but aside from that the games themselves were quite good.
But with the show now airing on UK TV, Nintendo obviously decided the time was right for a spin off title for the Wii. Inazuma Eleven Strikers, which is also developed by Level-5, drops the RPG-style gameplay of the DS versions in favour of a pure football game. In fact, it doesn’t just drop the RPG-style, it drops any sort of story all together, leaving a sports title that happens to be based on a kids TV show. Thankfully, it also replaced the tactical football gameplay of the DS versions with something more akin to Mario Strikers Charged.
The game begins by offering to go through the tutorial. Whilst this is advised for anyone who has yet to play the game, it is only displayed as a series of text boxes with pictures. Some of the actions are easy to remember, but others will likely lead to some trial and error on the pitch for the first few games.
From the main menu, the player is presented with a few choices. Exhibition and tournament will get them into the football playing action, either as a single match or, as you may have guessed, working through a tournament. The matches can be played alone or with up to three more friends.
The Club Room will probably be the main port of call for most players. It is here that they will be able to create and customise their own team and participate in friendly matches or competitions with other teams. The player is able to scout out new team members and train them up, whilst spending Inazuma points on new kits or consumable items. There is quite a lot to do here.
The final option, besides the settings, will take the player to the required mini-games. There are five in total, and they all centre around football training – sort of. Whilst I can understand volleying a ball and even pulling a bus to increase overall stamina, I am not so sure how punching a tyre will improve your football skills. Still, the mini-games are incredibly quick hit and won’t really make much of an impact on your life, but they are a little bit of fun while they last.
When it comes to the actual football playing, the basics are all well thought out. Sprinting, passing, tackling and shooting are all fairly straight forward and work how you would expect in any football game. Swapping between characters is easy enough and everything runs smoothly. Where things do get more interesting is with the special moves…
As the players move around the pitch, a small gauge next to their portrait will begin to fill. Once full, that player can use Technical Points to perform special moves. There are quite a number of different moves available, and usable in different situations such as shooting, blocking and even keeper moves. Perhaps the most satisfying are the co-op moves that one character performs with another. But whatever the special move, the results are generally spectacular, with all manner of special effects lighting up the football pitch.
However, the problem is that once you have seen all of the special moves a couple of times, they become a bit boring. All that is left after this is a cartoon football game with a bunch of characters that you may not even know.
The game looks nice, both on and off the pitch. Everything seems to be faithful to the TV show, and there are a huge number of characters within the game. The special moves are probably the highlight visually, but for fans of the show spotting and being able to play as their favorite character will be enjoyable.
And this is what it comes down to. Whilst Inazuma Eleven Strikers is a perfectly fun football game, as opposed to the more serious games, to get the most out of it, you have to be a fan of the TV show. For the fans, there is a lot to do here. But for the non-fans, there are plenty of other football games on the market that will last longer and perform better.