Inazuma Eleven’s kaleidoscopic cast of star football players collides, as LEVEL-5 perform a one-two pass in bringing the series to a home console for the first time.
Its Wii debut is a notable departure from that which is usually be expected, with Inazuma Eleven Strikers choosing to hang up its role-playing boots and instead switch to fast-paced arcade-style action.
Whilst retaining the cel-shaded styling and energy of its anime counterpart, this will be reminiscent to most of Mario Strikers Charged Football, albeit more flawed in comparison.
Club Room can easily be recognised as the game’s most engaging mode, granting you the opportunity to form your own team and have them graft their way to become Competition champions. After an introductory overview from Raimon Junior High goalkeeper Mark Evans, you’ll soon name your team and then immediately dive into everything available to you.
You’re free to play friendly matches against other teams, train to gain technique points and increase friendship bonds between players, or use gathered Inazuma Points to scout for new players and purchase items. So, it is here that the greatest parallels with the game’s predecessors can be drawn.
Training will see your team put through their paces in minigames; pulling the Team Bus, punching tyres, maintaining a volley, dragging tyres or dashing forward to shoot for goal whilst tied to a bungee rope. These largely benefit the player through being able to upgrade your players’ skills, so time spent here will be duly rewarding.
Once satisfied with your current set-up, you’ll then venture into matches. On easier difficulties, you’re relatively eased into these, yet as the challenge later mounts the game regresses into an unending tug of war. This can see you aimlessly circling around the pitch, progressing metres before losing possession and end up chasing to regain it. If you feel your sanity waning you can opt to reduce the difficulty to Beginner.
Such issues are mainly caused by the incorporation of Special Moves, which have become Inazuma Eleven’s signature trademark. These relate to offensive, evasive and defensive moves, with their activation signified by an imposing coloured circle that appears beneath the player.
These are a visual spectacle, seemingly where LEVEL-5 have concentrated their efforts in the presentation. Yet, with both yourself and your opponent putting them to regular use during matches they soon break up the flow and feel tiresome – especially after you’ve seen the same move sequence multiple times. With no way to skip them, their continual appearance will soon annoy.
Oh, and the in-game commentary? It’s so unbearably cheesy and repetitive that you will most likely mute your TV within moments. Trust me.
The game’s other modes (Exhibition, Tournament and Minigame) pluck their content from that found within the Club Room. Clearly ideal for shorter play sessions, yet indirectly serve to highlight the distinct lack of content variety to maintain your interest.
What makes my experience with Inazuma Eleven Strikers all the more regrettable is that there’s so much untapped potential here. Lamentably, for whatever reason, it’s just never realised, resulting in a game that proves hard to recommend, especially as a discerning fan.