Inazuma Eleven 3: Team Ogre Attacks is the third available version of Inazuma Eleven 3. Bomb Blast, part of the initial duo, was already reviewed here on God is a Geek and much of that critique still stands in regards to this slightly expanded Team Ogre version (it’s got some extra cutscenes, and some super tough matches not found in the other versions).
The key criticism, that of the game’s pace, is still a hefty burden upon the title’s shoulders. Inazuma Eleven 3: Team Ogre Attack’s opening is painfully sluggish. You’ll play about two short games of football in the opening forty minutes, and the first full eleven player match doesn’t occur until about an hour and half has gone by. The emphasis on narrative really is horrifically intrusive, especially considering the inanity in much of its dialogue, and could likely deter those not invested in the characters from prior titles or other media.
The plot is the same as the previous releases too, for the most part. You’ll still primarily play the role of the excruciatingly enthusiastic Mark Evans (which is a hilariously pathetic name incapable of being said with any sort of menacing conviction, no matter how hard the voice actor’s try) and his merry band, and the crux of the story still focuses on the Japanese Inazuma National team’s efforts to win the first ever junior world tournament. The titular Team Ogre are a pleasantly absurd addition, however, bringing both time travel and humorously exaggerated rage to the tale. Seriously, these guys are using unbelievably sophisticated technology in order to make sure football never existed…
It’s a worthy criticism though: the narrative sections are just too long and they get in the way of the pure fun of Inazuma Eleven’s football. When you’re on the pitch, however, the strengths of this part Subbuteo, part Pokemon sport RPG come to the fore. You play on the touch screen, drawing paths for your players and tap on the screen to pass and shoot, but when there’s a situation – an interception, a tackle, a goal shot, etc. – the action will freeze and you decide how to react, choosing from two universal options (one more likely to work, one less likely but with advantages) and, if your player has them, special moves.
Like an RPG, however, players have limited capacity to use special moves, affecting when toyou use them. The results of these “situation” sections are derived from all manner of stats and dice rolls, even including an elemental factor that means certain players will have an advantage over others. The matches start a little staccato and confusing as you get used to the stop-start action, but there’s a real sense of pride to be found in developing your team, learning about each member’s special moves and strengths, and then using the correct players in the correct position at the correct time to pull off a beautiful, special-move-filled play up the pitch that ends with the ball in the net. Inazuma Eleven 3 Team Ogre Attacks offers a genuinely unique spin on the game of football that, due its preposterous stylings, you don’t even have to like the sport to enjoy. That said, you’ll still get punished for being offside, so it helps to know a bit about the rules…
The only other glaring grievance I feel inclined to level at the game is that of visuals. Inazuma Eleven 3: Team Ogre Attacks is a port of a DS game, and you’ll know it the moment you see those ham-handed character models. You’ll especially know it if you watch a trailer of the recently-released-in-Japan Inazuma Eleven Go Galaxy. Not that it ruins the fun of Inazuma Eleven 3: Team Ogre Attacks, as its gameplay is quite measured and its touch controls are fine and dandy so polygon counts don’t have a bearing on this, but it’s still not the best looker. It includes some rudimentary StreetPass features, too, so it’s not a completely lazy port. Oh and there are perhaps too many “random encounters”, but the gameplay is fun so I personally let them off.
VERDICT: Why is Inazuma Eleven so good? Because it’s exciting, even if no-one is scoring. This is a game of football where players can dart through inter-dimensional tunnels. Where they can summon massive fists to punch the ball away from the goal. Where two players can engage in tag team acrobatics and launch a ball ‘together’ to apply more power. Where malicious players will perform a bicycle kick combo to a rival’s gut as they take the ball past them. Where seeing a huge massive phoenix joining in with a goal kick is just par for the course.
The story may be a bit too much, and the gameplay beats can be a touch clumsy to begin with, but Inazuma Eleven 3: Team Ogre Attacks is a mighty entertaining sports RPG that – just like its lead Mark Evans – has a big heart, and an infectious enthusiasm for what it is.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.
Review code provided by publisher.