Game Review: Nintendo Pocket Football Club [3DS]
I really despise Nintendo’s ability to make me enjoy games that I initially thought I’d hate. Football management games have never been my favourite genre, even splitting that genre into football or management still doesn’t bode well with me either, but there’s something about Nintendo’s appropriately named Nintendo Pocket Football Club that makes the genre simplistic and accessible to a wider audience.
It’s precisely what it tells you it is, Nintendo Pocket Football Club is Nintendo’s attempt at a football management game, available on your 3DS via the Nintendo eShop (hence the “pocket” in the title). What’s normally considered a niche genre that requires players to absorb and utilise several amounts of complicated sets of data, Nintendo Pocket Football Club instead condenses and makes everything much simpler, leading to a great game for anyone looking to invest into the genre and maybe wants to dip their toe into the shallow end for now.
Starting off the game, you name your team and design their kits and logo, giving each team their own unique identity and creating a personalised feel. You’ll begin formulating a bond with your team, beginning with practice matches before going into the bigger league. Like me, you’re more than likely to lose your first few games (13 consecutive losses here!) but the simplistic take on the genre makes it easier for you and your team to get better. As you watch your team play their games, you’ll collect training cards which can be used to train and upgrade players and hopefully you’ll start winning games. You’re also set with a budget to sign other players and keep your players on board, but much like everything else, it’s really not complicated at all and Nintendo have done a nice job of making it accessible.
Training and signing players is the most important aspect to success in Nintendo Pocket Football Club, combining certain cards will create a special combo card that will give the player a slightly higher boost in rating, which extends from S to E. Before each game you’ll set out tactics for players, where they’ll be positioned, if they’re going for an attacking or defensive game and to mark 3 players from the opposition. As you level up players and your team gets better, you’ll obviously see this reflect on the pitch; however the game falls short here. Each game lasts eight whole minutes with no option of skipping or fast forwarding. It’s easy to see why this decision was made, it would take away a large portion of the game if you could simply skip games, but the lack of options to speed up gameplay is an oversight. This is, however, partially made up by the game’s cutesy animations. Watching your players run up the field only to miss an open goal is infuriating, but that’s why you’re here, to manage them and make them better, you build a good relationship with your team and it becomes obvious why you cannot skip games. While the nice animations and the surprisingly good use of 3D do become interesting, it starts to fade, especially once you’re several seasons in and you might eventually become bored of waiting for matches to finish.
This game isn’t without challenge though, firstly you have to worry about your approval rating. Even with 13 consecutive loses, I was still at a respectable 60%, and to achieve a game over, you’ll have to fall below 3%, which is a challenge in itself. Promotions to new leagues also bring in challenges, one minute you’ve won 4-0 and the next it’s 0-5. Loosing one season is hard enough so it’ll take time to make your team better and starting beating the opposition, hardcore players will certainly find enjoyment in this casual take on a complex genre. Online games and leaderboards will also leave players striving to be the best and certainly extended the amount of hours enthusiasts will spend playing Nintendo Pocket Football Club.
Simplifying a genre that stereotypically requires masses of data and lots of planning in advance is no easy task and could have easily gone in the wrong direction, but Nintendo Pocket Football Club hits the back of the net (sorry, it’s required I make that terrible pun). The inability to skip or fly through games may turn some away but this casual take on the genre is lifted by its simplicity and brilliant little animations.
Thank you to Nintendo for providing a review code in order to produce this review. The game is available on the Nintendo 3DS eShop for £13.49.