Inazuma Eleven Go! Light & Shadow are the latest titles in the Inazuma Eleven series, starting life on the Nintendo DS this game has seen reasonable success both in Japan & in Europe. Not only is it a DS/3DS title it has also seen a Wii release, has an online game being created but it also has a fairly decent Anime running alongside it.
Since Inazuma 2 the series has taken a rather "Pokemon" route with things & separated the titles into 2, even going as far with 3 as having a third version. Each version contains different players and some different events.
This is no exception, along side different players there is also an exclusive side story for each, Shadow has a story for the long serving Nathan Swift where as Light brings in Xavier (Shawn over here) Frost whom began life in Inazuma 2 Blizzard.
Set 10 years after the events of Inazuma Eleven 3 & the National Football Tournament, this game stars new main character Airon Sherwind. Still set around the events of the Raimon football club things are very different from that of the third game. Football is now something of a political tool used to govern a schools performance alongside other political outlets. This has gotten to such an extreme that there is a huge amount of match fixing, all performed by a governing body known as "Fifth Sector".
Airon is naturally oblivious to these goings on & lives for the beautiful game and the thrill of it all, along side other new characters such as Skie (pronounced Sky) and J,P.
As when starting a new story things are often slow but as it slowly builds up you tend to forgive Airon for his often naive enthusiasm and welcome cameos from the original Inazuma Eleven. Even though I have played the entire series at times it's a little hard the swallow stuff like Football controlling the world & especially Airon having a quirk where he believes Football is a real living breathing thing.
The translation is also highly amusing, Level 5 tend to fill the Inazuma series with an onslaught of British voice acting which is brilliant if a little strange. For example this will more than likely only resonate with British readers but one manager is from Liverpool and a player for the team is from Newcastle (Geordie Shore).
Now that the story and translation are out of the way we can get to the real reason we are here, the gameplay!. You navigate the world in a standard RPG fashion in which you can walk about and chat to different people & find out various facts about the world. Unlike previous games in the series there are no random battles, instead you head to a red dot on your match and can challenge a team to either First Goal, Keep The Ball or Capture The Ball. This marks the first radical change in pace for the series as previously you had random battles, this makes it easier to focus on the story for those who detest the grind of little battles.
Naturally you will at some point want to do these battles as they drop fairly decent equipment but also you can poach members of the teams, this comes in helpful especially post game facing some of the tougher teams in the extra routes.
Other things to do include exploring various environments, hitting the shop, taking pictures & finding conversation topics which also help you meet requirements for obtaining players. Naturally in this type of game you want the best team and some require you to put the effort in meeting requirements, you can get these from various "Pal Pak" dealers around the game, using these you can get some very familiar faces for your team!.
Battles are done in the format of Football matches if you hadn't already guessed!, here is where you will most likely want to spend the bulk of your time. The fun catch for this is that I can't actually stand Football but I am a huge fan of this series and adore the battle system. The smaller random battles have a 15 or 5 Second time limit depending on if you are scoring goals or keeping/gaining possession.
The main matches have the standard 2 half system running it at around 5 minutes a part, this changes somewhat in the main story matches. Since the beginning Inazuma has always had scripted matches for the story modes, this has been fairly hit and miss as especially in the first it was quite hard to hit the specific requirement in the time. This has been addressed that you have smaller objectives I.E reach the circle holding the ball & you have infinite time to do so.
This is a double edged sword as it's eliminates the pain of losing a match due to time out because you didn't play the way the game wanted to, but it also really breaks the match up and causes it to feel disjointed at places which is a shame.
The battle system it's self is brilliant, it's pretty much a standard football match with over the top moves and a element system to take into consideration. Naturally before the match you'll want to observe what elements your opponent will have so you can try and counter them, it's the usual water beats fire, electric beats water affair.
You'll also want to make sure your attacking units have a high kick stat as you'll be going up against high catch stats in regards to goal keepers. It's all brilliantly addictive stat management than can easily take you in for hours trying to make that unbeatable squad!.
With it being football based it also follows the flow and rules of football, for example when you are trying to take the ball you have the option to block or slide. Should you choose block it's a middle chance of getting the ball with little to no risk of fowling, Slide on the other hand has a higher rate of success but also a much larger fowl rate. The dreaded Offside rule also comes into play during the matches but after a few matches you'll get your head around it (That is if like me you aren't versed in "Footie").
The new addition to the system is the summoning system they have implemented into this title. When a player reaches his peak he is able to summon a spirit to further his powers making him boardline unstoppable, it's down to you to decide when & where to activate such powers. It's a minimal yet welcome addition to the already brilliant battle system.
I have a few gripes with the system in Go! that I feel should be addressed, mainly the speed of the whole thing. Parts 1-3 weren't exactly speed demons but had a certain pace of them, it seems with the new 3D models for this game everything is that little slower and just looks kind of weird at times. Also they seemed to of nerf'd overhead passing, usually in the originals I could make an overhead pass 9/10 times, in this the rate is alot lower and thus alongside the slower pace of it kind of slows things down lesser than it's previous releases.
Overall you'll find Inazuma Eleven Go! an interesting little time sink even if it's a little RPG lite, the obvious pull for this game is the battle system and quite rightly so. Naturally with the start of a new series you'll be waiting for the bigger moves and better skills but it is more than worth the wait. Airon is incredibly hit and miss as was Mark Evans in the original 3 but like them you'll warm to him and his band of over enthusiastic friends in no time.
Even if you aren't a fan of football, the player scouting and addictive battle system should serve you well here. Outstanding start to the new series and I can only hope we are going to see bigger and better things from Airon & friends in the next installment
Who Should Buy This?
- Someone wanting a very different type of RPG
- Enjoy collecting stuff? There are alot of players here
- If the graphics of the previous titles put you off, this one looks amazing
Who Should Avoid This?
- People scared of the unknown & change
- If you really really really cannot abide the idea of football
- Wanting a serious story where football doesn't rule the world and you are worried about making Football cry.......