I'd love to have been there when the idea for the Inazuma series was first pitched.
Here's how I imagine it went down: "So you know how you wanted to make a smash-hit RPG?" someone said, attempting to sound completely sane. "Well, how about we take the classic RPG formula, Anime-ify it, and make it all about football?"
It's absurd. Who in their right mind would think that an anime-football-RPG-hybrid would work? But I can just imagine one solitary person smiling, nodding, and thinking Yes! This is brilliant!A game of about 63 halves
The football/battling segments are where Inazuma Eleven Go: Light shines brightest. The pitch is viewed aerially, and you use the stylus to draw lines to where you want a character to move to.
Tapping on another character or tapping on an area of unmarked pitch kicks the ball there, and should you happen to get near the goal, tapping somewhere inside the net starts a goal-battle.
This might all sound like regular football played with a stylus, but there's more to it than that.
Each football player has a form value determined by a series of stats which denote who's likely to win an encounter.
When an opponent is in possession, holding the stylus over their head paints them as a target and all nearby friendly players will attempt to secure the ball. When one of your characters gets near enough a mini-battle occurs.
Here you choose to 'Dodge' (a weaker command that's less likely to cause a foul), 'Charge' (a stronger command, but with a higher probability of a foul), or, with certain characters, use a special move.
These specials range from pretending to be a train and chugging along with the ball glued to your head, calling forth a mist to blind the opposition, or unleashing a super-charged fire-kick that blasts the ball through an opponent.Variety is the spice of…
It's a bit mental, and newcomers to the series will probably cry blasphemy at the idea of having such eccentric special moves in a football game.
But this isn't just a football game. It's an RPG, for RPG fans, that happens to be about football.
There's a managerial side to matches where you control the team's formation, decide who coaches them, and choose which players start where.
And because this is an RPG, there's a tonne of loot to be found or bought. Instead of armour though you're swapping different boots and items of jewellery to change your stats.
Matches aren't always just a straight up game of football. There are simple in-match quests that task you with scoring a single goal, not letting the team gain possession, or moving a player to a certain position.
In story matches, you might have to carry out multiple commands - move X to Z and shoot, for example.
On paper these mini-missions sound tiresome, but in truth they help to fend off repetition. Every match you play feels new because you've got different challenges to complete.Every RPG needs an over-the-top story
When you're not on the pitch, you'll spend the majority of your time exploring what the world has to offer, talking to people, and experiencing the story.
You take control of Arion Sherwind, a spoilt British boy who gets handed a football contract.
The governing body, known as The Fifth Sector, has been regulating matches to the point they're staged, so it's up to Arion, and his team of British stereotypes, to save the day.
The story isn't terrible, but it's basic, sometimes nauseatingly dramatic, and lacks the captivating nature you'd expect from an RPG narrative.
In one scene, Arion stares longingly into his captain's eyes, clutches the captain's chest, and says - in a completely serious tone - "Captain, please don't give up on football. Because I won't!"
If the football battles are where Inazuma shines brightest, the story is where it's at its dullest.
Inazuma Eleven Go: Light may not be perfect, but its problems are pretty easy to look past.
It's innovative. It's different, and it takes chances that most studios wouldn't.
I still don't know how such a bizarre concoction of football and roleplaying came into existence, but I'm glad it did.
Because without that single spark of surreality, we wouldn't have the often dazzling Inazuma Eleven Go: Light.