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3DS  header logo

Inazuma Eleven 3: Bomb Blast / Lightning Bolt

For: 3DS

A keeper

Product: Inazuma Eleven 3: Bomb Blast / Lightning Bolt | Developer: Level-5 | Publisher: Nintendo | Format: 3DS | Genre: RPG, Sports | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Inazuma Eleven 3: Bomb Blast / Lightning Bolt 3DS, thumbnail 1
I wouldn't say I'm a fan of football. I enjoy a kickabout with friends every now and then, but I don't follow the sport, I don't buy the simulation footy games, and I certainly don't support a team.

The last football game I truly adored was Italia 90.

Yet Inazuma Eleven 3: Bomb Blast has wheedled its way into my heart with its curious mix of role-playing, collect-'em-up, strategy, and football simulation.

It will perhaps be a little too family-friendly for those gamers looking for a more serious sim, but give it half a chance and its compulsive gameplay will keep you coming back.

Shot on target

One of the most distinctive aspects of Inazuma Eleven 3 is that it features a story. And it's not just a throwaway element of a much larger game - it's intrinsic to the whole package.

It's worth noting that if you haven't played the first two Inazuma Eleven games on the original DS then you're immediately on the back foot.

Inazuma Eleven 3 assumes you've been with the series for a while, and there are numerous references to the second game pretty early on. It's easy to catch up, though, and you can piece together the crucial details just by playing.

The plot itself is greatly influenced by Japanese anime, and features a mix of text dialogue, voice-acting, and handsome animated cutscenes. The two different versions - Bomb Blast and Lightning Bolt - each have differing plots that focus on certain characters.

In Bomb Blast, the version I tested, there are all sorts of time-hopping antics, a boy in Africa who wants to be the best, a disgraced coach, and a consistently peppy captain named Mark Evans.

The plot gets pretty wild at times, as do the special abilities of your team-mates. Inazuma Eleven 3 is about as grounded in reality as The Lawnmower Man.

Not only are the voices of the characters overexcited and cheesy of accent, but during play these same characters will whip out special moves that would be perfectly at home in a Pokemon game.

Use Technical Points in a football battle and you'll steal the ball from your opponent through use of penguins, ice skating, teleportation, explosives, and more.

Back of the net

These random battles occur when walking about the overworld, at which point a team of four players must fulfil an objective (such as scoring the first goal) by playing a game of football crossed with the kind of scrapping you'd see in a JRPG.

You use the stylus to direct players about the pitch, move the camera around with the Circle Pad, and tap to pass and shoot.

When your players engage in tackles or take a shot on goal you're given a few choices whether to shoot straight, chip the ball, or use a special move. Again, these specials are completely ludicrous, and accompanied by a Dragon Ball-like animation.

Boss battles follow a similar pattern, but are more like full matches. They're extremely tough and very tense. You level-up after each encounter, and when not battling you're exploring the world, finding treasure, recruiting more players to your squad, and generally trying to collect everything you possibly can to build the ultimate team.

You may be smart enough to look past the quirkiness, but you'll probably struggle to look past the graphics. If you've been following Inazuma Eleven for a while you'll know that this is a port of the original DS version. Though it's a good-looking upgrade, it's clearly not been built for the platform - character models are tellingly simplistic.

Aimed more at younger teens, and with a fair amount of anime weirdness thrown in, Inazuma Eleven 3 understandably won't be everyone's cup of tea. Adults will roll their eyes at Mark Evans's enthusiasm, and footie purists will balk at the RPG bits.

But don't let that make you miss out, because Inazuma Eleven 3 will grip you with footie fever far more intensely than the latest FIFA ever could.
Inazuma Eleven 3: Bomb Blast / Lightning Bolt
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 7 October 2013
Skip buying your kid FIFA on 3DS this year, and give your offspring Inazuma Eleven 3 instead. It's a novel light RPG experience, with all the compulsive collecting of a sticker album. There's also a decent football story at its core
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