Nintendo 3DS – available from the 3DS eShop
In Nintendo Pocket Football Club, you are tasked with being manager of a fictional fledgling football club. Starting from the bottom of the Beginner League, you inherit a team of amateurs, who with your managerial prowess, can be transformed in to the next big thing. In NPFC, you’re pretty much thrown in at the deep end. Of course, as with all games these days, you do get tutorials on the ins and outs, but it doesn’t hold your hand. In order to win games, you have to develop your squad. You start off with enough players for a starting 11 and couple of subs. Also, a rather modest transfer budget to help shape things up a bit. After you’ve named your team, designed your kit and badge, it’s time to take to the pitch for some pre-season friendlies and some practice matches.
Practice matches and friendlies are the best way of improving your players’ abilities. During the matches your Mii will pop up with managerial advice and what training is required. This comes in the form of a training card. There are four types of card, and they can be used in sets of three to improve your players skills. Only three cards can be used on a single player each week. It’s a satisfying experience when the players start showing progress. Throughout your tenure as manager, you are reminded of how much backing you have from the clubs board. Lose or draw and it will start to decline, but as long as you’re winning, the only way is up. Your first season should be quite straightforward. There are fewer matches to play in the beginner league, meaning that unless you play more friendlies than you should be doing, your players shouldn’t tire too much, and team rotation isn’t really an issue. Once you start making progress into the higher leagues however, the more you strengthen your squad the better. There are more games to play, the players tire out more and with fatigue, they become more injury prone, so the more players you have at your disposal, the better.
Visually, the game is presented in a pixel style, which at times is far too cutesy, but has echoes of Sensible Soccer, not just in the players, but the daft team names, too. All the teams are fictional, so you’ll be creating rivalries from scratch. And there will be rivalries (I hate them Good Omens!). There’s also an online multiplayer mode of sorts. The ranked matches pitch your team against other teams, although you don’t have any control over tactics and substitutions, but you do get the option to tell the CPU manager what to do before the game, so you can dominate the world as well as the game. If you enjoy management games, this should be right up your street. It’s serious fun and very addictive, it’s one of those where you find yourself saying “just one more match”, and before you know it you’ve just finished another season. Once you’ve dispensed with the basics and have found your feet, it’s superb pick up and play fun, full of the charm you only get with a Nintendo title.