Game Reviews

Pocket League Story

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Pocket League Story

As professional footballers grow older, their legs begin to slow and their reactions dull. But it’s telling that out of all the positions and specialities, it’s the goalkeepers and playmakers that seem to have the longest careers.

For the former, it’s mainly the lack of running that keeps them in the game, but for the latter it’s all about their ‘footballing intelligence’ - the ability to see runs before they happen and anchor the rest of the team’s attack.

Kairosoft’s management games are much like the playmakers of the mobile simulation genre. They all play the same game - research points, levelling ‘staff’, upgrading facilities - but each one manages to intelligently deploy its features so as to feel like a fresh attack on your free time.

Kick it off

Pocket League Story puts you in charge of a local football team (nameable up to 14 characters, of course), and tasks you with getting them on the fast track to success before eight seasons are over.

Players of earlier titles should feel right at home. There’s the familiar research aspect, in which you use your points gained after matches or in training to improve skills, start convincing sponsors, or improve fan facilities.

Then there are the championships and cups themselves, which are really unlockable stages that open up as you win other matches (graded from F to A in difficulty).

What’s new is how the familiar elements all blend together on the pitch. Rather than spend a long time planning or waiting for money to build, Pocket League Story is set up to get you entering matches and trying to buy new players instantly, with a very generous starting sum of cash at your disposal.

Options open up gradually after the first few matches, while failure to win a game merely results in less cash than normal, rather than anything like relegation or sacking. It’s gentle, and it sucks you in fast.

Head it!

Unlike earlier titles, you’ve got a lot more staff to manage than normal (in this case, your players), all with their own skills, favourite positions, and even development potential.

You can get a little bogged down in menus when you're trying to pick your starting XI, however, and it doesn't have the depth of a more serious football game, but you can still adjust formations, pick subs, and set mentality that will affect the final score.

Once the match is underway, the game switches to an isometric view, with the players legging it about and smacking each other to get the ball.

The matches are hardly the most accurate representation of a football match, but they’re still presented well enough, and have enough input from you to elicit a shout when your team finally punch through the opponent’s defence.

Keep it!

And no matter how strong your own defence is against another Kairosoft timesink, it’s hard to not get drawn in by the off-beat humour both on and off the pitch.

From fortune teller sponsors to the way the game shows your team bundling onto a comically tiny bus before each match, Pocket League Story is disarmingly jolly.

The formula may be getting on a bit now, but if Kairosoft can keep mixing up its playbook like this there’s no reason for it to retire the Story series any time soon.

Pocket League Story

Another annoyingly addictive Kairosoft offering that blends the company’s trademark style and humour with an enjoyable and silly football management game