'Nintendo Pocket Football Club' is out from April 17 for the 3DS via the eShop, for £10.79.
- Simple, easy to learn football management
- Trading and training players
- Many different leagues and cups
- Online matches and player sharing
"Head up your own football team and shoot for the top! Nintendo Pocket Football Club puts you in the manager’s seat at your very own football club – can you keep the crowds chanting and guide your pint-sized players from the lower leagues to the wonders of the world stage?"
If there's one thing that video games have taught me, it's that football management is lot harder than it seems. Because it seems like a job that about 8 squirrels could do if they could stand on each others' shoulders and wear a suit rented from Moss Bros. But as it turns out, it's actually as intricate and stressful as trying to run Mission Control during the Apollo Moon landings, while juggling, on Microsoft Excel.
Except in Nintendo Land. In Nintendo Land, everything is simplified. Unlike the glut of stats, strategies and tempermental players familiar from Football Manager, you're instead presented with an extremely stripped down interface, a small range of tactical options and instead invited to experience football management as a sort of cross between Pokemon, Sensible Soccer and, well, actually watching football.
The game is charming, well-drawn, deliberately simple and addictive. You start with a rag-tag of lower-leagues players (all make-believe teams, naturally) and have to organise them into a team, playing a series of practice and league matches. While you'll probably lose, at first, you earn "training cards" you can deploy in between matches to raise your stats. Play the right cards and you'll get a training bonus, and your players will get better. Eventually you'll find a winning strategy, fight to the top of the league and earn a bigger budget - before being promoted, and starting (effectively) all over again.
It's all very fun, simple and moreish. Unfortunately, the weakest part of the game is the sheer length and number of the matches themselves. Each last eight minutes, and you're forced to watch the whole thing with no options for changing strategy or affecting play without making a substitution - and even then it's very limited.
On the other hands, the matches are cute and funny. Oddly, the more you watch them the more believable and compelling they seem, too. You can see why the game took so long to make - and tune. But they're also repetitive, and after a while you'll realise just how long you've been watching this game play out and you'll probably weep for your lost youth. Two or three seasons in, a non-committed player might just give up.
Fortunately there are some online options to spice things up. You can share players with your friends, post your stats online and compete in ranking matches with other players.
To some this game will seem like a hilariously rudimentary take on footie management. We, however, really liked it. It's funny, clean, simple (but not simplistic) and rewards dedicated, careful play. It's also cheap, and great for younger players, and it's pretty. Yes, it's another Nintendo eShop game which feels like an iOS game at three times the price - but on its own terms, it's a winner.