Inazuma Eleven GO Chrono Stones: Thunderflash and Wildfire‘s cheery opening theme may ask us to gather all our hopes and dreams, but for Raimon Eleven’s star midfielder they’re startlingly shattered early on.
We pick up three months after Inazuma Eleven GO: Light and Shadow’s concluding events, with Arion Sherwind excited that football has once again returned to being a sport that everyone’s passionate about. With youngsters elsewhere in Japan eager for a kickabout, Sherwind’s baffled when he returns to Raimon Jr. High to a scene in which football seemingly never existed. The football pitch has been replaced by a baseball field, and students are far more content with extracurricular activities such as gymnastics and calligraphy – oblivious to the joys of slamming a ball into the back of a net.
The dastardly Protocol Omega, at the behest of world council El Dorado, have travelled from 200 years into the future and reversed important events throughout Raimon Football Club’s history. The result is a parallel world being created where it never even existed, the last resort in winning El Dorado’s futuristic war against Hyper-Evolved Children whose genome emerged from superior football players.
It’s an outlandish premise. But, when Arion resists Protocol Omega’s efforts to erase his memory of when he fell in love with football, it casts him on a time-travelling adventure to set the world right. Arion won’t face his adversaries alone, with time hoppers Fei Rune, Dr Cross Word Cryptix and coach Clark “Wonderbot” von Wunderbar – a hilariously-scripted blue teddy bear – rallying to his side. Stepping onboard the Inazuma Time Machine Bus, your immediate goal is to use wormholes to travel back to correct any timeline interruptions – requiring an artefact from whichever time period you need to jump to.
This Story mode is expectedly linear, but will easily excite Inazuma Eleven fans as you manipulate space-time to assemble an otherwise impossible football team – referred to as the Ultimate Eleven. To do so, you will travel back in time to use Wonderbot’s Miximax Guns to borrow the powers of historical figures, imbuing them with Raimon Eleven’s determined players to further hone their skills.
This leads to the first addition to the playing field in GO Chrono Stones, Mix ‘n’ Match.
Matches remain a stylus-orientated affair: drawing lines where you wish your players to run; tapping to pass, kick or perform a throw-in; marking opposing players to chase after; and accessing commands, special tactics and abilities. Mix ‘n’ Match is one of these, greatly increasing your player’s success rate in command duels, when saving or taking shots, but drain Fitness Points (FP) much faster than usual.
It also allows access to new Fighting Spirits beyond those normally attributed to each character, the summoned monstrosities making a return appearance after being introduced in last year’s outing. While increasing the success rate of taking or saving shots, winning command duels and making available powerful spirit moves, players can now choose to “Armourfy” the Fighting Spirit. This envelops the player’s body in the spirit’s aura, visibly armouring the character and dramatically heightening the success rates even further. However, these can’t be used indefinitely, with Fighting Spirit Points (FSP) being drained while in use until the summoned spirit relinquishes its assistance.
Special moves to aid you when on either the offence or defence, and match improvements continue with a stun gauge that will see a goalie weaken if subjected to repeated shots – easing your chance of netting that deciding goal. Certain matches will also see players required to fill an Advance Gauge to progress the story, built by dribbling, passing, winning command duels and taking shots at the opposing goal. Make sure that you steadily level your team, and you won’t have trouble with these.
LEVEL-5’s improvements aren’t all plain sailing, however. Command Duels now begin with the player choosing to charge or defend to their left or right. This gamble is geared toward opening a chance for you to skip passed your opponent, although nearly every time you will match the CPU’s chosen direction and vice versa. It unnecessarily elongates such frequent instances, slowing down the pace of the matches that themselves still remain an entirely unique design.
Exploring the world in Inazuma Eleven GO Chrono Stones: Thunderflash and Wildfire remains a weaker aspect, regardless of the striking visuals that LEVEL-5 continue to effortlessly achieve on the Nintendo 3DS. NPCs wander idly by, hooligans await your challenge in helping to level your team, and there are shops galore for you to buy new equipment and skills. But for the large part, most players will tire of meandering backwards and forward as you chase the purple arrow leading to the next location that shifts the story onward.
The localisation in Inazuma Eleven GO Chrono Stones: Thunderflash and Wildfire continues to raise some peculiarities, notably travelling back to rural Japan in an earlier chapter where it’s all “Lads an’ lasses,” “Yew’ll,” and “Jus’ leave it to us.” Whereas InaLink on the other hand – GO Chrono Stones take on an in-game messaging service – adds welcome character to your team, chattering between themselves as you stride forth on your quest.
Away from the story, Competition Route boards promise to divert your attention for hours as you compete to unlock their secrets. Extending this, four-player multiplayer and trading are there to be enjoyed with others through Local Play, StreetPass will let you send team data to challenge anyone that you wander past, and additional content is promised to be delivered through SpotPass.
In Inazuma Eleven GO Chrono Stones: Thunderflash and Wildfire we see the series continue to go from strength-to-strength, even if catered toward those more familiar with the fearless Raimon Eleven’s adventures. The time-travelling tale is easily one of the more memorable, and LEVEL-5’s impeccable production values are matched by a blazing football sensation that slams into the back of the net.