Nintendo Pocket Football is the company’s attempt to bring a football management simulator to a handheld. Nintendo have created a game that focuses more fun than the complicated in-depth strategies of other titles out on the market like, Championship Manager. So do we have a game that is worthy of the top flight division or will it be relegated to a lower division? Let us find out below.
Genre: Sports, Management simulator
Release Date: 17 April
Review copy provided by Developers.
Football management games (soccer to my American friends) have been around for a while. They have always been popular because it gave armchair-fans a chance to actually manage a football club. Nintendo have decided to take a slightly different approach by doing away with the complicated, in-depth options that you normally get from the mainstream titles. Rather than being concerned with little things like playing mind games with opposing teams, or having to scout youth players, it focuses on the actually game of football itself.
Here you only have to take charge of the key areas of the team management. These include training of the squad, signing new players and playing matches. When you first start the game you are given the options of naming your team and designing the kit to be worn. Provided are also a squad of players that really need a lot of help, as they seem to be not very good – as you are in the bottom league, so plenty of work to do. In order to get the very best out of the team you inherited, you must do a lot of work with them. This is achieved using training cards, which you pick up from playing matches. These cards represent the various aspects needed to turn them into great players.
You get the chance to improve on shooting, dribbling and tackling through to sprinting and weight-lifting. Each player can use three cards per week and they can be combined to create special training options to help improve stats. When the campaign starts, you find that you struggle to win games until you either sign a quality better player, or you get a couple of training sessions under the belt to sharpen up the team. You also find that you need to strengthen the squad (not so much in the lower leagues, but you will in the top flight) which is done by visiting the office and spending your budget wisely, which is quite generous. You will find that the odd superstar will be just out of financial reach.
As soon as you find a stable squad, there is no need to carry on buying players. You are much better suited to training and improving the current crop of players, as they will serve you well as you work your way up the tables. Of course the most important place in the game is the stadium. This is where every Saturday you play your league matches and cup games. Of course there are times in the season where you find yourself without a game; no problem as you can arrange a friendly or practice game to keep your teams match fitness up.
However, there are a few minor niggles that do get slightly annoying after a while. The first of them is that you can’t skip the games so you are forced to watch the 8-minute matches whether you are winning or losing. At first it is very exciting watching your team playing, knowing that you put in the hard work and they reward you with victories. The games are bearable due to the fact that the pixelated graphics are quite cute and unique to watch. You will find that a lot of teams will play the long-ball game, especially in the lower leagues which is boring and not able to bypass will frustrate you.
Unfortunately on-pitch action is very limited as you never need to alter anything. You will find that you don’t really need to make substitutions, unless you get an injury to player or fatigue, which don’t happen often. Changing tactics don’t seem to effect gameplay much, as even though you set up the main zones, they total disregard the order and carry on regardless.
Make no mistake Nintendo Pocket Football is fun to play. While it doesn’t offer the same level of depth as the likes of Championship Manager, or previous FIFA management titles, it offers its own brand of enjoyment. If you are making your daily commute or got a spare half hour to kill then get the 3DS out and have fun. If Nintendo had implemented an option to skip the matches then this would be a great title. This could be something for Nintendo to think about in a patch later on. Definitely a worthy purchase for any football fan.