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 game is split into two parts: one resembles an RPG, featuring various locations that Mark and his team have to explore in order to get new items, face several other players in short casual battles or to advance further in the story. The second part is the actual match: using the stylus, the player moves the soccer team around against the opposing team. The player can dodge opponent's attacks, slide-tackle to take the ball away, or use a special ability available to the characters they recruited to kick, steal and catch the ball. The result of any of their players actions are determined by seven skills, the player's affinity, and the total number of players participating in an action. Special abilities can not only be stopped with other abilities, meaning that they will most of the time win against basic tactics but not always. Super shots and Super keeps play simultaneously, which means that unlike defending the ball they always consume.
The main character, Mark Evans (円堂 守 Endō Mamoru?), is a very talented goalkeeper and the grandson of David Evans (円堂 大介 Endō Daisuke?), one of the strongest goalkeepers in Japan, who died before Mark was born. Even though his skills and enthusiasm are incredible, his school lacks a real soccer club, as the six other members don't appear very interested even in training. One day, when a mysterious forward named Axel Blaze (豪炎寺 修也 Gōenji Shūya?) moves to Mark's town, the young goalkeeper sets out to find and recruit members for his soccer team. There are nearly 1000 playable characters with varying skills that will determine the success of the team. As you play through the story, Mark can recruit various characters on the team and help achieve his ultimate goal of competing. He further makes his team the best in Japan with the help of Jude (Kidou), Kevin (Someoka) and Erik Eagle (Ichinose) and others. Finally, they defeat Zeus Jr High, led by Byron (Aphrodi). After that he fights with the Aliea Academy to save the world. On the way, their new coach Lina (Hitomiko) brings Raimon to become the best team in Japan. They encountered Shawn (Fubuki), Darren (Tachimukai), Hurley (Tsunami) and more, as they gain help from the strongest assist, none other than Byron (Anime only). Finally, Raimon defeats Aliea and gets to know that they were not Aliens after all.... When Raimon players start to be selected for the FFI ( Football Frontier Internationals) they are shocked to see Aliea's players in their team, including Xavier (Hiroto) and Jordan (Midorikawa). They enter the Asia preliminaries, and they fought Fire Dragon, team Korea in the finals, another clash with Byron, Claude (Nagumo) and Bryce (Suzuno). After successfully defeating them, they enter the world tournaments, fighting teams from different countries. Mark meets Paolo (Fideo), captain of Orpheus, Italy's national team. Inazuma Japan fought Little Gigant, Cotarl's national team, in the finals and won.
The game has received mixed to positive 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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- Jenkins, David (September 11, 2008). "Japanese Charts: Rhythm Slows To A Crawl In Sluggish Week". Gamasutra.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25.