Review | Inazuma Eleven Strikers: Soccer with an Anime Twist
What do you get when you combine the sport of soccer/football (whatever you want to call it) and combine it with shonen anime elements? You get the silly but thoroughly enjoyable series, Inazuma Eleven. What happens when you take the Inazuma’s series entire main cast of characters and pack them up into one sports game for the Wii? You get Inazuma Eleven Strikers. While this game has been out in Japan since 2011, Strikers finally achieved a European release on September 28th of last year. Next to Professor Layton, the Inazuma series is one of Level-5’s most wide spread franchise and for good reason. The cast and story, while still playing to certain anime stereotypes, are likeable and fun to watch. The DS games are also enjoyable and addicting to play with a unique genre combo of RPG sports game that respects the sport it is based on. Considering the franchise’s popularity, which is becoming more wide spread, a console installment was inevitable. Yet, how does this game hold up compared to the series’ DS titles or soccer games in general?
In terms of style, Strikers has been just what the Inazuma fans have been missing. The smooth 3D animation has improved the look of both the characters and special moves. However, since this is an anime style game, character designs are as you would expect. Wide eyes, expressive faces and ridiculous hair abound so people who are not fans of Japanese style animation may not enjoy the crazy or downright unrealistic look of certain characters. Speaking of characters, Strikers’ main selling point is the wide cast of characters to choose from. All characters are available to recruit in order to create your own all-star team.
Who are these characters you may ask? Well…unfortunately Strikers won’t help you get to know or care about them as much as the DS titles would, since there is a stark absence of story. However, for those of you who do know these characters, pretty much everyone from the main cast of all three DS titles are present, each with their own specific moves and stats which can vary pending on which version of the character you are using. This, unfortunately, is another drawback. Another problem with certain special moves, specifically co-op, require specific characters to have a certain level of friendship points in order for them to be used in a match. This adds an interesting spin on the game since friendship points are gained when characters either play in matches together or train together in Training minigames. The minigames themselves are ridiculous to watch but are extremely entertaining and helpful to building up your team’s technique points (TP) and friendship points which will increase your chances of doing well in actual soccer matches.
During a soccer match, the game plays like most soccer sports games but with an added twist. The special moves require both TP and a full ‘Inazuma’ gauge in order to be used, but can easily turn the tide of the match. These special moves increase the power of shots, saves or even dribbling or blocking the ball. From the cool to the downright hilarious, each special move is fun to look at (made even better by the improved graphics) and sets this series apart from other soccer games.
Fun, is the word that really sums up both Strikers as a game and Inazuma Eleven as a franchise. Can it be silly? Yes, but when you are honestly enjoying the game and having fun with it, the silliness of the special moves barely even registers or serves to make the game even more fun. Inazuma Eleven Strikers while missing the heart of the story, still manages to capture the fun of the playing the game and in the end, that maybe all that is what it is all about.