by Liam Edwards
reviewed on NDS
The passing back and forth
Although matches and battles are fantastic, there are sections of Inazuma Eleven which can be very mundane and boring. Before matches you have to complete a series of tasks for the story to move forward. Tasks involve asking around for people, collecting items and finding people to train with. It is all a bit pointless and going on a massive hike to the other side of town to find out you just have to go back again, is boring. It may be the same as other J-RPGs but it feels lacklustre, considering there arenít many areas to explore either, and once you have visited there once there isnít much else to see or explore. The tedium between each match is hard to get passed but itís worth it when the odd training mission appears and then when you finally get to progress to the next match.
Many of the tasks are exact clones of each other too, and the preparation for a match is always the same. Find information out on team, ask around for people, train and learn special move and so on and so forth. Itís hard to see anything outside of the actually matches and battles, but the tasks can uncover further information about the story and the 40-year old Inazuma Eleven and what happened to them, so it can be worth seeking out every task.
Inazuma Eleven is a hard game and it takes a while to master its interesting control scheme. The control scheme, however, is what makes the matches and battling so enjoyable. You use the stylus to draw lines for each player to run, then you tap the screen for where you want the ball to be passed to. You can pause the game at any time to have a look around the pitch and decide what you do next. However, once paused you canít pause the game again for another 7 seconds, so making sure that your next play is good is important.
Once you have the ball, you tap on the current player to make him charge towards the goal, or tap another play to pass to them. It isnít that easy though as you will then be swarmed by the opposition and ,if you donít decide quickly, losing the ball is inevitable. If an opposition player attempts to tackle you, and the player has the moves available, you can decide to either feint, dodge or use a special dribbling move to pass them. Feint and dodges are hard to pull off, but skill moves work nearly every time. Once youíre near the goal, you can tap an area of it and the game pauses allowing you to choose whether you want to shoot, lob or use a special shot. In battles, opposition keepers donít tend to use special moves to save the ball, so you can get away with using a shot or a lob. Conversely, in story matches it is important to score quickly so using special shots early to score can make all the difference.
The difficulty has a brilliant curve as it gets progressively harder the more you get use to the control scheme. Although some teams have some really annoying skill moves that allows them to score automatically, there isnít any time where you are so overwhelmed by shots and possession that you donít get a chance to at least shoot once. Some matches can take a few times to beat but this allows you to learn the opposition tactics and what special moves counter-act others.
It may take a while to learn and get use to, but once you can master the control scheme, scoring and pulling off good plays can be highly rewarding. When a goal goes in after trying 5 times, it is a highly enjoyable experience and keeps you enthralled to try and score more.
It is difficult to describe what Inazuma Eleven is. Essentially it is a JRPG, and then on the other hand itís a sports game. You canít really place it in any genre but in one of its own. With the DS coming to a slow halt as we move on to 3D and the next generation of gaming systems, it is upsetting to think we may never see the sequel to this title on European shores. Three years is a long time in video-gaming, and especially in terms of the industry shift. Who knows where we will be at in 2014 in terms of consoles and gaming platforms? But I canít wait three years for the next Inazuma Eleven title, no matter what platform.
It is a game that is effortless to play, yet highly challenging and rewarding. Like most games it does have its flaws, but they arenít major down-falls. Inazuma Eleven sets the trend now for other JRPGs to follow, proving that you donít have to follow the same old trend, you can create your own.
Inazuma Eleven is a game that puts its boots on, gives its all for 90-minutes, and bags itself a hat-trick.
Fantastic battle system, challenging and rewarding and hours of entertainment.
Some mundane RPG tasks that canít be avoided. Small environments and world.