Inazuma Eleven made its name on the original DS back when the system started out, and with the latest game in this sport RPG series being released on the new 3DS, how does it fair?
(Note: I’m British. Therefore, there will be no use of that namby pamby word “soccer” in my review!)
Inazuma Eleven 3 is the first Inazuma game on the 3DS, and thus it’s expected that the series would start a fresh story to help new players be introduced to the world, sadly, Inazuma fails to inform new players of what’s going on. The game starts in the future following the main character’s great grandson as he makes his way downtown before bumping into the dangerous Team Ogre, it’s here that we are suddenly thrown back to the present where the main character Mark Evens is training for the world cup after “his most recent victory”, and we now follow him and his group of friends as they try to become the best players in the world, while also trying to save football. The game never explains what Mark’s last victory was or why every teenager in the world knows about him, the game assumes that the player is aware of the complex story and all of the characters, and by doing so it neglects new players from understanding what the blazes is going on. And since the game is surprisingly story driven, it’s a shame that many people’s enjoyment of the game will be greatly reduced due to lack of knowledge of the series.
Gameplay in Inazuma is a weird mix of a football game and a real time strategy title. The game lets the player run around an open and empty world to find items and talk to people, but the real meat of the game lies in the football matches. Matches play out with the typical rules of footie with a mix of 4v4 and 11v11 games, the player starts with the ball and uses the touch screen to control the players by dragging and tapping the screen. If the carrier comes into contact with a member of the opposite team, the game pauses and allows the player to choose their next action from a menu, they can try to dodge / charge, or they can perform a super move that will drain their SP. Every time a move is selected the game shows a short cinematic of the characters performing the action with a little number by each player showing their stats, at least that’s what I think the numbers were, as the game never explains what they are or how to determine if they are good.
If you were expecting any changes to the gameplay, then I’m afraid that you’ll be disappointed. The games core mechanics are just the same as they were in prior entries, and while it’s entertaining for a bit, the majority of the game still boils down to running for a few seconds, watching the players perform an action to dodge or shoot, then back to running for a bit before the next video. Rinse and repeat. The objective of every match is to score goals and win, but doing so proves to be quite the challenge, not because of the enemy AI putting up a fight, but rather because the controls are incredibly counter intuitive. The entire game is based around using the touch screen to perform actions, but half the time the players don’t respond to commands or will misunderstand what the command was. There were many times when I tried to run with the ball and ended up kicking it across the pitch. Considering that this is the third game in the series, this unpolished gameplay is just downright unacceptable.
After playing the excellent Professor Layton games, I had high hopes for a Level-5 RPG, but sadly Inazuma Eleven isn’t one that’s worth wasting time on. The story neglects new players of the series, the gameplay lacks any sense of flow, and while the concept of having a sports game mix with an RPG is a cool idea, the execution fails to capture the elements that make both those genres so great. If you’re a fan of the series, chances are you’ve already bought the game and love it. But to everyone else, you should hold off and see if the next one in the series manages to fix any of the problems plaguing the series.
Thanks to Nintendo for supplying a review copy