A little less than a year after the release of Inazuma Eleven Go, Nintendo continues the European publication of the Level-5 football jRPG series with the second episode of the trilogy released exclusively for Nintendo 3DS. Again we have two versions, Flame and Thunder, but the differences are limited to a handful of exclusive characters, events and items. For fans of Inazuma Eleven it is certainly not new: it is for several iterations that the series has remained anchored to some axiomatic characteristics, and in this sense Chrono Stones is yet another proof of the evolutionary path that the franchise has gone through over the years. The game, basically, is always the same, but the Japanese developer has implemented the usual new mechanics to revive the gameplay a bit. Will they be enough to capture the attention of those who have not yet missed a game of Mark, Arion and associates?
In the new Inazuma Eleven Go you play football and travel in time: will it be enough to revive the series?
For those unfamiliar with Inazuma Eleven, or missed our reviews of the previous episodes of the series, it is worth repeating that it is essentially the spiritual heir of Captain Tsubasa, the hugely popular comic and cartoon that the older ones will know with. Spanish title Holly & Benji. Level-5, however, has a hair to extremes the spirit of the work of Yōichi Takahashi, conceiving a world where football is a real philosophy of life, as well as the most played sport ever. The story mostly follows the events of the Raimon school football team, and the misadventures of two generations of footballers: in the most recent Go series the protagonist is Arion Sherwind, a stubborn young man who has an unconditional love for football since a ball saved his life when he was little.
The new chapter of his trilogy, Chrono Stones, begins with a stunning twist only a few months after the end of the previous one and the conclusion of the Imperial Way tournament.: Arion arrives at Raimon and discovers that the football team never existed. Being so tied to football, in fact, Arion is the only one to remember history as it was before the criminal organization of the future called El Dorado changed it by traveling back in time to change the space-time continuum. Yes, accompanied by some allies from the future Arion will have to travel through time to put things right, free the most important players from the control of El Dorado and save the world. By now we should be used to the narrative extravagances of Inazuma Eleven, between aliens who challenge our planet to football and shady characters who want to conquer power with balls, but the story of Chrono Stones is really "over the top", taking us even to distant times to play football with mythical figures such as Joan of Arc and Nobunaga Oda. If on the one hand we feel like rewarding the absurd inventiveness of the writers, on the other we are forced to note the usual problems in the dialogues - despite the excellent Spanish adaptation - which end up affecting the rhythm and smoothness of the plot. Compared to previous episodes, however, Level-5 has tread a little more hand on the cutscenes and on the details of characters and settings: the cel shading of Chrono Stones does not disappoint and, indeed, is even closer to the cartoon that many Inazuma Eleven fans will surely have known even before the games.
The 3D effect
The stereoscopic effect as usual adds little or nothing in terms of gameplay, but it spectacularizes the action and, of course, the most dynamic and pyrotechnic special shots, as the ball is often kicked towards the camera with an effective illusion of depth. .
The footballers of the zodiac
In terms of raw gameplay, Inazuma Eleven Go: Chrono Stones is a true copy / paste of the previous episode, which itself was of the Nintendo DS trilogy. Level-5 never wanted to overturn the proven game system, while implementing new mechanics at each iteration in order to make it more complex, profound and satisfying.
The same happens with Chrono Stones too, but if the exaggerated richness of the plot in this case amused us, we must admit that we have frowned several times at the succession of new powers and abilities that have strangely ended up making the clashes too heavy. Inazuma Eleven Go: Chrono Stones, we remember, is a Japanese RPG in which the player explores the various settings and faces enemies on improvised soccer fields. The upper screen reproduces the kinematics of the interactions between the players, while on the lower one we can control them with the finger or the stylus, in a sort of turn-based combat and a little in real time where you try to score goals by passing the ball. from one character to another and choosing the appropriate moves and counter moves every time you cross an opponent. The first games may seem a bit flat but still fast enough, then the various additional mechanics, special techniques and super powers of some characters begin to take over, including flaming balloons, evocations of ancestral spirits and absolutely amazing stunts. Even if at the beginning each game is more spectacular than the previous one, in the long run the skits tire, especially when you face the mandatory games that the plot frequently interrupts to the sound of dialogues. At a certain point, moreover, the news of Chrono Stones in terms of gameplay are also unlocked, namely the Armor and the Miximax. The former are an evolution of the concept of the Warrior Spirits introduced in the previous Inazuma Eleven Go: once their Warrior Spirit has been summoned, the characters can "wear" it as a kind of energy armor that temporarily increases their stats and the power of their hits. special. The Miximax, on the other hand, allows you to merge the auras of two characters, giving life to a temporary hybrid in both visual and statistical terms. The two new game systems will delight RPG enthusiasts who love to customize their teams, but we also got the impression that Level-5 has put a little too much meat in the fire, weighing down the battles / matches that for them nature itself should be much faster and more frenetic.
The plot of Inazuma Eleven Go: Chrono Stones is absolutely crazy, and even if it takes itself a little too seriously, just let yourself be carried away and indulge the extravagance of characters and situations, rolling your eyes if necessary. In a way it is the most successful part of this new episode, because the new gameplay mechanics are very interesting, but often weigh down and slow down the clashes a little too much, and require micromanagement of the many characters, their equipment and their skills. that touches the confusion. For fans of the series, needless to say, this is yet another appointment not to be missed.
- Plot and characters even more exaggerated than usual
- Good technical realization
- The new combat mechanics are interesting ...
- ... but sometimes they cause confusion
- Some moments in history are knee-deep
- Beyond the new mechanics, it's the usual Inazuma Eleven: either like it, or you don't like it