With the Soccer World Cup in full swing (go the team that wins!), Nintendo have provided a great solution for people to get involved with this sport that has the usual oozing Nintendo charm and magic at play that one would expect. Weather you call it football, Soccer or Fusball – if you are a fan of the sport then you will find something great here to keep you entertained on the long train trips, if you are not not a fan there is still something for you.
If you are familiar with the Football Manager series on the PC then you will have the beginnings of what this is all about only on a smaller scale in terms of complexity and difficulty. I should make this very clear from the very start – you don’t actually play the football but control everything outside of the action on the field. Essentially the bulk of the game is in hiring/recruiting players and managing their strategies on the field and in training.
As you start playing matches and gathering up some wins then you will be given more opportunities to work with better players and match off against better teams, this is the typical sports game progression scheme only without the interactive sport. You figure out the training schedule while managing new players and determining the plays to be used on the field. While this all sounds very exciting to the accountant or management type individual – don’t let that put you off as the gameplay is actually very compelling for most people provided you know the caveats.
It is all very simple compared to other games in this style but that is done to keep it friendly to the platform – that’s the real charm on this game. Simplicity where necessary. Having huge excel style spreadsheets of data is not the aim here as a full simulation in the palm of your hand would do nothing but create frustration. This is a game that has it’s gameplay style firmly planted in the mid 90’s in terms of scale.
This is both a blessing and a curse in that the simplicity limits the players abilities in controls matches, there are no strategies for individual player but only for the team as a whole. You aren’t dealing with the big issues that would normally plague a Soccer player in a a big team but more what strategies that can be used and if you should hired them again. But with these simple tasks you can eventually shape a team that eventually gets a goal, and then wins a match and them rises to the top of the league.
With this control you are eventually get to see the action on the field and this is where it all comes together. While there is no control of the players, you do end up getting a real feel for how they all behave and move – it is subtle yet extremely effective and it is where this title gets most of it’s charm. Every mistake and victory is both excruciating and glorious and your little fellers waddle around the field. Unfortunately you can not skip the matches and have to watch them in full but that is part of the overall title, what could be concede red a tiresome drain is more an homage to a slower pace of gameplay that used to be present. Everything happens in it’s own time, its own sweet slow time like scoring a goal in an actual soccer match.
When you have conquered the main game in approximately 7-10 hours you can then challenge others to matches both online and via Street pass, while it is the most complicated multiplayer setup it does at least give you some additional avenues to demonstrate your learned skills.
Presentation as a whole is very impressive, it’s all in a very traditional 2D pixel art style but all incredibly smooth in motion and very clear and somewhat unique in the overall visual styling. There is love in every pixel and it all ties together in a very cohesive and silky smooth manner, I always go on about the Nintendo polish that they demonstrate in their titles and yet again I will sing this praise. Audio has the same quality aspect as well as the music is all simple but not over over bearing. The sound effects are all high quality and set the stadium mood perfectly, while there isn’t a huge variety – what is is presented always keeps the atmosphere in perfect step… Nintendo… polish… you get it.
What is presented here is an excellent example of less is more and considering its 6 year development cycle, it shows that a long and well thought out development can occasionally deliver something special without spiralling out of control with aspirations of bigger grander ideas. It all plays very well and delivers the core experience wonderfully, while it is slightly limited this does not take away from the over experience as a whole. Almost anyone will find something to like in this game, if you are a fan of the sport then you will like it even more. If looking for something like the Football manager series then this is a partial match but don’t expect anything as in depth as what that series provides.
Definitely check this out if you are after something a little bit different on the 3DS.