He passes the ball, he kicks... wait, hold on a minute here!
In September of last year, I reviewed Inazuma Eleven 3: Lightning Bolt. While I was somewhat indifferent about it, there were still some elements that I really liked. The engaging battle system and the character building functionalities were varied and fun, though there was little exploration and few elements that made it really stand out. In Inazuma Eleven 3: Team Ogre Attacks, the problems and issues I had before are still present. There are some slight changes, but it is mostly the same ordeal.
In the opening moments, it feels like nothing has changed one bit. You still play as Mark Evans, goalkeeper and captain of his football team Raimon, who has been summoned by Coach Hillman. Hillman has gathered a variety of players from a whole bunch of places across Japan, so that they can create the ultimate national team. Now they will have to face the world, but in Team Ogre Attacks, they also have to face a new challenge. It quickly becomes apparent that the side stories here are not from the campy types of the other participating countries, but these are new adversaries who have come from the future.
Team Ogre has come to destroy the competition at the Football Frontier Tournament and ultimately undo the world of Mark Evans. Why? He apparently made (European) football so popular that everyone became obsessed with it. Now they want to destroy almighty sport of footie and make everyone aware that war is the true calling of life. To aid Mark in battle, he will be visited by his great grandchild Canon Evans to make the team aware of what is going down. It is all quite mental and this makes it somewhat more camp than before for better or worse. This whole storyline is not new, however, and actually is based on an Inazuma Eleven movie which was released in Japan. There are some changes made to the script, and more cutscenes were added to make it more fleshed out. That is something to appreciate, though the array of thick British accents continues.
Just like the last game, everything is taking place on the touchscreen and works like a dream. With the role-playing game sections, there is a feature where you can point at objects or points of interest and your character will walk towards it. You can also press buttons if you would like, but the stylus keeps it all coherent. Mark and his team move across various landscapes and terrains to search for certain characters, getting certain objectives done and buying things to prep for the next match. The issue with these bits is that purple arrows always guide you to where you need to go, and this makes exploration useless in the presence of linearity. Next to that, there is always a handy map on the 3D screen and this makes it impossible to get lost.
While walking about in these areas, you have the perfect opportunity to prep for the big matches ahead. You will have to buy equipment, grow the stats and trust of your characters by entering random street matches, and scout for new players to aid you in the time of need. You can use the ones from teams that you have previously defeated, and you can collect capsules with contact details that go on the map to visit them with the Inazuma Bus. There are also various training facilities, and here you can improve on specific statistics. Unfortunately, if you start training at a facility, there is no way to stop and if you fail, you have to start all over again. There are also special training spots you can find while walking across the map, so it is best to use them upon seeing them. The many ways of character building remain very enjoyable, though it does not change the game much when played for the second time.
What I enjoy the most of the Inazuma Eleven games are the football matches, and Team Ogre Attacks is no different. By drawing paths and tapping to shoot with the stylus, you will guide your players to victory. You don't have direct control over them, but that doesn't make it less fun as you decide their fate in the long run as a tactical advisor. You will make them pass, charge, kick and shoot across opponents and it is all quite pleasant. Your key to victory here are the Command Duels, in which special attacks of various elemental values duke it out against one another. Every player can learn up to six of these moves, and they make for the shinier moments in the adventure. There is never a guarantee that you will win, but the excitement that ensues until you see the final attack numbers is really something else.
The weird restrictions of the last game are still present, and I am not sure why they are here. There will be matches where you can do nothing until the story starts to develop more, and it becomes irritating quickly because you are simply not made aware that you have to meet some criteria. Inazuma Eleven 3 becomes a way better game when the lack of clarity this game offers takes effect, and it’s a shame that the series is sticking to its guns.
The big array of communication options are still present within Team Ogre Attacks, and it even saw something of an update. You can still receive new players or additional data through SpotPass and StreetPass and duke or trade with a friend over Local Play. You can also link up with your previous playthroughs of Lightning Bolt and Bomb Blast to get additional items and bonuses. Visually, about the game is comparable to Inazuma Eleven 3. The game looks colorful, but it barely looks any better than the Nintendo DS releases in Japan. The soundtrack is also on a similar level, which is to say it’s nicely put together and fits the themes well; however, it is clear that these games were made with different hardware in mind.
Inazuma Eleven 3: Team Ogre Attacks does very little to change my mind about the games. If you played Lightning Bolt or Bomb Blast, the different stories are not exactly worth the price of admission. As it stands, the game still comes from an older era of games, and is brought to the Nintendo 3DS in order to support a big array of communication options. It may be worth picking up if you never played the previous ones, but you will have to deal with the problems of an Inazuma Eleven game from a bygone era.