So football fever is almost ramped up to the max right now. The World Cup is around the corner, Liverpool are on the cusp of sealing their first league title in over two decades (regrettably) and fully fledged management sims on portable devices are an actual thing. Just ask SEGA. So then why should Nintendo sit back and miss the show? The answer is, they aren’t. And with that we come to the topic of this review, Nintendo Pocket Football Club.
Game: Nintendo Pocket Football Club
Reviewed on: Nintendo 3DS
The moment you launch the thing up, it dawns on you this is a Nintendo game. It is all very cutesy and minimalistic and quite some way from the spreadsheet heaven you would find in a Football Manager game. As such, no real teams or names are present here. Instead your players are rated on seven pretty generic sounding categories spanning from E to S, S being god mode. Your goal is to create your own franchise and make it a dynasty. It all sounds very American, but altogether mildly entertaining. How you get there is up to you, within reason. Train up your randomly generated bunch of misfits via the trading card like training system or use your meager budget to try and fish out talent, the choice is yours, but I guess we will come back to that.
Once you are done setting up, you will slowly be introduced to the games systems one by one and while there is nothing extensive to be found there, you are given enough control for casual play that won’t infringe too much on your personal life, but ardent simulation fans might find themselves disappointed. From a tactical stand point. formation, zonal positioning and marking allow for some element of tactical play, but even these are limited. Man marking for more than three players is impossible, while changing any of the above options mid-match, requires you to traverse the substitution screen first. Finally the lack of a speed options during the actual match can be quite irritating at times with each match coming in around 8 minutes each. Animations for match day can be quite limited, so not having the ability to steam roll your way through the game at hand when there is five minutes left on that train journey is rather irksome. Even when there isn’t a prior engagement in the real world, having to sit through each match at its default speed can be quite painful.
Each game played seems to randomly generate an assortment of cards in reaction to what happens on the pitch. There is quite a assortment of these and they are gifted to you frequently early on, as your team makes a mistake, prompting your Mii to pop up and break it down like some super deformed Alan Hanson. The cards can be used individually or combined to different effects reminding me of alchemy systems found in the JRPG/MMO genre. The experimentation factor definitely adds something different to the game outside the genre standards. There is a bit of fun to be had in assessing the areas of weakness in your players and then deducing which combination of cards will give you the biggest boost to those stats. Changing these stats will alter the core type of the player from “Balanced” to a variety of other statuses, including “Maverick”, “Dynamo”, “Explorer” etc…
The transfer end of the spectrum is not as involved nor is it of a similar depth. You have a wage budge it and a set of players you can make a wage offer to. There is no way to scout new players, nor is there a way to refine your offer should it be rejected. You simply make an offer, and wait for a response. You can however trade players with friends, which could be interesting if you can find a group of like-minded gamers to purchase the game with you.
What we have here is an approachable management game. Nintendo realises that not everyone has the man-hours to sink into spreadsheets and that’s fair enough. If that sounds familiar, Nintendo Pocket Football Club is for you. Those who are a bit more hardcore and require control of every management aspect to do their club may want to stay clear.
Nintendo Pocket Football Club is not without its issues, but it has an old school charm that might just grab your attention should you let it.