I am not the world’s biggest fan of soccer, and might be doing the sport more justice if I said most of my knowledge involved not being allowed to use your hands. Video games, though, have an odd power of drawing in an audience of people who know nothing about the content and getting them engrossed in the subject; before Gran Tourismo I knew nothing about cars and now understand a very specific cross section of them. Inazuma is kind of like that, snatching your attention up like a Sham-Wow and water.
The game is also an RPG, just on the off chance that there were some people out there that might have been wondering what kind of niche audience Level 5 might have been aiming for this time. Oddly that is probably the one thing that distracts from the game the least as it requires the user to have the stylus ready at a moment’s notice for any of the soccer battles that might erupt. The problem is that this just makes the gameplay feel more like a launch DS title then something that is coming out a decade later on that systems successor, which is almost true. This game came out six years ago in Japan and has been released in every other territory aside from the US years ago – which seems telling of Nintendo’s hopes for it here.
The story itself is what you would normally expect out of Level 5, a main character that is amazingly passionate about whatever it is the core of the game is about and villains that are trying to stand in his way—basic anime fare. This go ‘round it takes shape of the schools soccer team on the verge of collapse due to an almost complete lack of interest, not enough players to make a team, and the people that are interested not really even caring about soccer. Basically the first 30 seconds of the game sets everything up to be every other sports anime that has ever come into existence, and proceeds to follow through with many of those tropes while it ventures down the course of the game.
Inazuma Eleven was release for 20 dollars and not much fan fair, which seems like a bummer because it is a rather solid game and something novel to have on your system when you just don’t know what else to play. It isn’t that the game isn’t without flaws, most of them stemming from the fact that it is an older game that was just recently released on a current handheld, but it is how the game is amazing and wonderfully entertaining despite them. If you like any of the games that Level 5 has done in the past you owe it to yourself to pick up Inazuma Eleven.