Simple and addictive? The Treble will be mine!

Hooray! A review of this! I’ve been waiting a while to do this review — or, at least, I’ve been holding it back for some reason… But, oh well. This delightful game has to be seen to be believed, especially for Americans who probably have no idea what it is; and, finally, I will do this review.

Nintendo Pocket Football Club is pretty much a football manager simulation game, Nintendo style. That speaks for itself, really. Or does it? If not, that basically means it’s more colourful, less realistic, and perhaps more silly than a manager game by anyone else, with its own joyous little things going for it.

Pocket Football Club is indeed very colourful with a unique and refreshing art style; showcasing pixelated player models in a basic 3D graphic based stadium. It looks fantastic, and simply has to be seen with the 3D on, which gives the game brilliant depth.

If you’re not too impressed, it’s because this isn’t in 3D.

The game, eh? Yeah, not the game as a whole. By game, I mean match. When you take your customized team (which be cool) with their unique kit and silly name (AFC Wet Taco was mine) up the divisions from the muddy, poor conditions of the bottom division – Beginner League – to the high, challenging, but with fantastic conditions, heights of the top division – Pro League 1 – you can’t just skip games and hope for a good result: you’re forced through the hard graft of choosing squads, tactics and changes throughout the match — and you better believe you’ve got to watch the whole 8 minutes. If the matches sucked to watch, that would be a real hardship; but no, they’re brilliant. They’re exciting, end-to-end and fast paced games of surprisingly complex footie, which when you’re winning is beautiful, when your drawing is exciting, and when your losing is tense. You feel just as a proper manager would, and for a silly little simulation that’s impressive.

I mean, seriously, the footie is pretty complex. Changes in tactics, formation and marking can completely make or break a game; with different teams playing with seemingly different styles and with varying skill levels. Who’s next? Bridgeford!? Better have five at the back, and better not have it on always try to score… Who’s after? Aah, old Boson Old Boys. I can probably go with three at the back with this one, maybe have always try to score? I don’t know, Lefebvre’s a good striker, maybe I should have four at the back for a more solid defence. Don’t want to let in cheap goals, now do we?

3-0!? Aw crap!

Huh?

Oh yeah! Sorry, I went in a bit of a tangent there didn’t I!

Anyway… It’s impressive, also, what great stuff the players can do on the ball: with acrobatic volleys, skilled dribbling, half-way goals, incredible saves, perfect tackles and goals straight from corners certainly not out of the question. It’s made oddly realistic by the skillfulness of the footie on display, and the mistakes players can often make — and that be really cool. There’s been some amazing results for me. 16-0 two years in a row in the first round of the Federation Cup, 10-0 in the European Challenge Cup and one 12-0 against a fellow high flying Pro League 1 club in Old Masters. Nonetheless, I did lose my first game in the third division 8-0 and I’m pretty sure I’ve got a result worse than that before. So anything can happen.

However, if you want the things happening more often better than worse, you need to use your budget appropriately, purchase and sell the right players, and… Train. You need to do a lot of that. Nevertheless, that’s not a bad thing. As training is sort of the crux of the game; it’s where you develop your players, or deprive them. You do this through training cards, of which there are many in blue, red, green and yellow varieties. Basically, the more of one colour you use on a player the more likely their playing style will change according to the colour, from Balanced to – a couple of examples – Sprinter or Maverick; it’s not made clear what they do to your players at first, but you get the jist as you play on. There are also training card combinations, which boost particular stats more than others.

I didn’t know about this one!

There are seven different stats. Kicking, speed, stamina, technique, toughness, jumping and will-power. Each stat can reach S, which is the highest of E, D, C, B, A and S. The higher, the better, as you might have guessed. If your stats are at all B’s, for example, there’s a huge difference between a player with that and one with all S’s: and developing these stats in training is the key to winning games, and, eventually, the Treble.

Yes, after you have progressed through the leagues (whether you’ve been relegated at all or not), and become, inevitably, I think, the best team in the country, you can win three different trophies in any one season. The Pro League 1 trophy is usually the main focus, but there are two more: the Federation Cup (the equivalent of the FA Cup or the Copa del Ray), and the European Challenge Cup (which if won progresses to the World Cup Classic further into the same season). If you win every cup, you’ve one the Treble, and you’ve completed it. The high flying, ridiculous aim of winning this Treble is what keeps you coming back, and makes you sort of addicted to what is a fantastically rewarding game. I played it for 190 hours. It’s my most played 3DS game.

Verdict:

Nintendo Pocket Football Club is surprisingly deep, innovative and addictive. I was in a constant battle to develop my team, and make it the best ever, to win the famous Treble; and that makes it especially addictive and rewarding. It’s a fun game, a colourful game and a unique one, on the pitch especially, but off it as well; and its simplicity is what really makes it what it is. It’s the best 3DS eShop game, at least.

So I give it: 93/100.

– Speedy.

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