Level-5 have shot at us their newest installment to their football JRPG series. IE (Inazuma Eleven) won me over with their predecessor Ogre attacks, since that game the graphics have transcended into the world of full on 3D. Since the DS trilogy has come to an end, the 3DS sequel is here to mix things up with a new story, new characters but same Raimon High School.
To compare to a JRPG instead of strategic turn based fighting you can pick decisions in order to play real-time footie. How to use your skills (of each individual player) to set the ball on fire or summon massive monsters to help score a goal.
Just to clarify I not a sports fan, least of all footie mad, so this game wasn't something that jumped out at me but due to watch the anime and hearing great reviews on it being a JRPG, I had to pick it up. Being a 2D fan girl I was a little hesitant to pick this title up but Level-5 did not let me down. Enjoying the stereotypical cockney accents along the way and a few familiar faces I played on.
Since the game marks the start of a new generation, a back story wasn't necessarily needed but it was my gripe for the previous game and a gripe with this one. Come on a little intro really wouldn't hurt, talking about the previous tourneys and how they have saved the world with the power of football - could really inspire some people and maybe win players over trying the demo.
Our new protagonist is plucky Arion Sherwind starting his career at Raimon High School, wanting to play proper football, but soon realises the corruption has a strong oppressive grip on the once successful school.Yes folks this game looks into politics of football, match fixing, corruption of power and wealth.
Ignoring the over the top voice acting, the story is sound, possibly aimed at the older range of kids who are into anime/JRPGs. Lot of amusing phrases to encounter while talking to characters in the game like the dog looking into the sunset or the shady guy waiting to get lucky under the sakura tree. This sort of details make my play through of a JRPG worthwhile.
Looking at the stats instead of HP and MP, you have Fatigue Points (FP) to control whether you need to rest or likely to faint on the pitch (not a good look) or Technical Points (TP) for use of special moves.
IE Light/Shadow specifically focuses on an element-based system where you can exploit a particular weakness by using the elemental skills. You can also use tactics to 'cheat' your way up the pitch. The playing aspect was really hit and miss with me, I think it is a point of luck and stats aren't too vital to winning matches.It gets quite complex when 11 v 11 matches begin.
The StreetPass functionality is superb for this game it lets you import and export teams to battle, while special team orders can be used to change your match odds.
All in all great visual transition, great story only let down by the super cheesy voice acting. This game has something fresh for veteran IE players and also can be picked up by a gamer new to the franchise. IE demonstrates a new generation of JRPG games with a twist to give a variety to the catalog we are used too. Note: this review was based on the Shadow version of the game. Both Light and Shadow have small differences altering the two teams,the story and who is Mark Evans' wifey. If you haven't played the previous game the latter probably won't matter !