European cover art
|Release date(s)||Nintendo DS
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game, Sports|
Inazuma Eleven (イナズマイレブン Inazuma Irebun?, "Lightning Eleven") is a role-playing sports video game for the Nintendo DS developed and published by Level-5. It was released on August 22, 2008 in Japan. A European release was confirmed by Nintendo and was released on January 29, 2011, three years after the Japanese release. The UK release was held back to 26 August 2011 for marketing reasons. The European release was updated with additional features from the sequel, Inazuma Eleven: Firestorm / Blizzard.
The game was included in an updated re-release compilation titled "Inazuma Eleven 1-2-3: Endo Mamoru's Legend" for the Nintendo 3DS, released on December 27, 2012 physically and digitally exclusively in Japan. It was based on the Japanese Nintendo DS version of Inazuma Eleven, updated with stereoscopic 3D and updated graphics. A Nintendo 3DS eShop port based on that compilation, and featuring a new dub, was the series' North American and Australian debut on February 13, 2014, directly after that month's Nintendo Direct announcement.
Since the game's launch, it has received two sequels for the Nintendo DS; Inazuma Eleven: Firestorm / Blizzard and Inazuma Eleven 3: Sekai e no Chousen, as well as three spin-offs for the Wii: Inazuma Eleven Strikers, Inazuma Eleven Strikers 2012 Xtreme, and Inazuma Eleven GO Strikers 2013. The third sequel to the main series, which takes place 10 years after the events of the third game, Inazuma Eleven GO, is available on the Nintendo 3DS.
An Inazuma Eleven manga based on the games began serialization in CoroCoro Comic on May 15, 2008, while an anime based on the games, produced by OLM, started airing on October 5, 2008. Mitsui has also created a collectible card game tie-in. The game served as the debut of a J-pop idol group, Twe'lv.
The main character, Mark Evans (円堂 守 Endō Mamoru?), is a very talented goalkeeper and the grandson of the late David Evans (円堂 大介 Endō Daisuke?), one of the strongest goalkeepers in Japan and coach of the legendary football team, the Inazuma Eleven (though Mark is unaware of this). He is captain of his school's (Raimon Jr. High) football team, and dreams of competing in the Football Frontier tournament one day. Unfortunately, the club is on the verge of disbanding, as the other members seem uninterested in training.
One day, a mysterious forward named Axel Blaze (豪炎寺 修也 Gōenji Shūya?) moves to Mark's school. Axel used to be the top striker at his old school, and has gained the attention of Royal Academy (led by team captain Jude Sharp and principal Ray Dark), the most prestigious school in the area. They come to Raimon and challenge them to a football match, despite Axel refusing to join Raimon's team. They are much more powerful than anticipated, and Raimon's out-of-practice players take a horrible beating. Axel decides to join the team to help them out, and his sudden appearance surprises Royal, which he uses as an opportunity to score a goal. As the first goal scored against Royal Academy in years, Jude counts it as a win for Raimon and leaves with his team.
The victory gets Raimon a lot of attention, allowing them access into the Football Frontier tournament, which they gladly accept. They prove themselves as a force-to-be reckoned-with, winning all of their matches and reaching the finals. Before the match, Ray Dark uses the team's coach to spy on them, and orders him to kill them by draing the brake fluid from their bus. Fortunately, his plan is foiled by Nelly, the school counsellor's daughter, who promptly gets the teacher fired. At the match, Dark tries to kill them again, this time by crushing them with girders. They survive thanks to a warning from Jude, and Dark is promptly arrested by a detective known as Smith. The match goes on, and after a long battle, Raimon emerge victorious.
The team then move onto the Football Frontier nationals, but learn they will be unable to compete without a coach. Detective Smith points Mark in the direction of a man named Seamore Hillman, who used to be part of Raimon's team from forty years ago, the Inazuma Eleven. Hillman explains that the team was coached by Mark's grandfather, David Evans (much to Mark's surprise), and that they were unstoppable force: the best team of their time! This excites Mark, unitl Hillman tells him about how their run was ended when their bus crashed on the way to their last Football Frontier match, injuring the players and preventing them from competing.
Despite his unfortunate past, Hillman agrees to be the team's coach, and also gets the team training with the now-elderly members of the Inazuma Eleven. This training helps them win their next few matches, along with the assistance of Jude, Royal's captain. He tells him Royal were completely destroyed by a team called Zeus Jr. High, who, unbeknownst to them, is being led by Ray Dark. Zeus also continue to win all their games, each time leaving their opponents unable to continue. This means the final will be Raimon versus Zeus.
When Raimon arrive at the stadium for the finals (which is a floating palace in the sky), they see the members of Zeus drinking so-called 'ambrosia', which turns out to be filled with drugs to improve their abilities. The first half begins, and Zeus begin winning instantly thanks to the ambrosia; benching most of the players and scoring goal after goal. As the first half ends, Nelly realises that the drinks are spiked, and goes to switch the drinks with regular water. Her plan succeeds, and Zeus are forced to play through the remainder of the game as a normal team, allowing Raimon to seize victory and win the Football Frontier.
The main part of the game resembles a typical RPG, where Mark and his team explore the overworld of Inazuma Town in order to get to their next objective, marked by a yellow flag on the map. Players can take part in random encounters (which in this game take the form of 4-a-side kickabouts), look for chests which contain new items, find training points to improve a player's stats, or locate new team-members to add to their party.
By talking to a Celia inside the team's clubroom, players can scout out other members of the school they want to add to their team, either by name/criteria, or by a 'connection map', which grows bigger the more players obtained from it. They can then locate them on the overworld and challenge them to a battle, which, if won, adds them to their party. Also, by talking to Nelly in the clubroom, players can recruit people from the various teams they have beaten in the main story. There are nearly 1000 playable characters to collect, each with their own unique design, stats and abilities, but only 100 can be contained in a player's party at once.
The other part of the game is the football matches themselves. Players control their team with the stylus, moving players and passing between teammates. Running into an opponent initiates a command duel, where the player can do things like dodge an opponent's attempt at a tackle, slide-tackle to take the ball away, or attempt to score a goal. The result of any of their players' actions in a duel are determined by their form, which is decided by their stats (Kick, Body, Control, Guard, Speed, Stamina, and Guts), the player's element (either Wood, Air, Earth or Fire, which work in a 'rock-paper-scissors'-like fashion), and the total number of players participating in an action.
Matches either take the form of the aforementioned 4-a-side kickabouts against members of the school, or a full-scale 11-a-side game against one of the other teams competing in the tournaments. In full-size games, players can have up to five substitutes ready to switch in during a time-out. Before a match begins, players can change their team's formation using cards they've obtained by beating other teams and looking in chests. Winning matches grants teams experience points (which level up their players), prestige points (which are used to buy items in shops and to recover FP and TP), and friendship points (which are spent when scouting and recruiting new players), as well as recovery items, equipment, and formation cards.
Instead of making standard movements in duels like dodging or shooting, players can also use special abilities that they learn either by levelling up or by using a special move manual. They are typically more powerful and effective than their normal counterparts, and can normally only be stopped by other moves, but cost TP (Technical Points) to use. These abilities include things like summoning a dragon to shoot the ball, or creating a giant hand of energy to save a shot with. Special moves also have elements, which give them a boost when used by a player of the same element.
Sometimes, the victor of a duel can receive a foul, resulting in a free kick (or penalty). Other mid-match abilities include: time-outs, where the player can pause the match to plan movements or switch in subs and then initiate them after un-pausing; charges, where the player taps on a team-member rapidly to give them a speed boost (at the cost of Fitness Points, or FP); and firing-up, which boosts a team's overall performance.
Players are able to take each other on via wireless mode.
The game has received mixed to positives reviews, with an average aggregate score of 7.6 out of 10 at GameStats and 74 out of 100 at Metacritic. The Japanese magazine Famitsu gave the game a total score of 36 out of 40, with two reviewers giving it a 9 out of 10, one giving it a full 10, and another giving it an 8. The Dutch reviewer Gamer.nl gave the game a score of 8 out of 10, while the Spanish reviewers 3D Juegos, Vandal Online and VicioJuegos gave it scores of 8.0 out of 10, 8.2 out of 10, and 83 out of 100, respectively.
Fragland gave the game a score of 84%, praising its "original combat system, beautiful and cute graphics, good sound and a very tight and deep gameplay and finishing." Nintendo Life gave it 8 stars out of 10, concluding that it is a "refreshing take on" the RPG genre and that "the compelling storyline, overall charm and well-structured fantasy style football system" will create "an experience that RPG lovers will come to cherish."
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