Soccer, football or foot fondling of pigskin are different names for the same beautiful sport. There are numerous games on the App Store putting you in control of the players directly, and a few allowing you to micromanage strategy and player line-ups. There hasn’t been any game placing football in a simulation, and if there ever were one it would have to come from the hands of Kairosoft. And that is exactly what we have now with Pocket League Story.
If you are new to the world of Kairosoft a short summary of the basic gameplay is: upgrade, research, develop, buy new on higher level, get completely addicted, combine, upgrade, research, develop, win, replay on higher level, win. That is an extremely dumbed down summary of the gameplay in all games from Kairosoft released for iOS so far. Actually games from Kairsoft can be divided into four different simulation types based on style and subject matter. We have Game Dev Story and Pocket Academy in one micromanagement style. Mega Mall Story is alone, as a sideviewed economy simulation. Most games are found in the land/city development style, and finally we have the sports games Grand Prix Story and Pocket League Story. Pocket League Story is basically a re-skinned Grand Prix Story with a bit more aspects to explore, and more people to train. It is also notable for being the first Kairosoft game completely lacking combos. Combos are usually a huge factor in finding what buildings, or what parts work well together. My wife has spent hours exploring new combos in Venture Towns, and Oh Edo Towns. Personally I have had a lack of patience, and resorted into browsing online faqs. I still think it is a huge omission from Pocket League Story not having combos. I think you could have had player combinations, or skill combos.
The aim of the game is to take a poor game, as far as possible in eight years. Once the time is up the score is recorded, but you are allowed to continue afterwards. When you start a new game all upgraded players, coaches, formations and facility upgrade levels are kept. This means that the more times you complete the game the better equipped you are. After completing the game once you also get to play with a faster speed setting. This is something I really think should be available from the start, especially for the matches.
Buying players, training them and selecting matches or leagues is the core of the game. You also have fan activities to get more fans, and other bonuses such as more matches to choose from, new players and coaches. There is a limited amount of building in the game, but you get to upgrade your stadium and build a few facilities. Approaching sponsors is also important to get your economy blooming. This is always a game of chance, as is the negotiation with players. You can always cheat by saving before, and then quit if the player or sponsor declines. Loading the game again you can retry the action that seems to be quite random in outcome. The same goes for matches that can sway quite heavily in outcome in even games.
The main issue I have with Pocket League Story is having to watch the matches. I had the same issue with Grand Prix Story where you had to watch races with very little to do. In Pocket League Story you only get to tap a player to initiate auro mode, but other than that most games are just about me waiting for them to be over. It becomes a bit better with faster speed upon completion of the game. Still it is a bore that takes away a lot of enjoyment. It also prolongs the game with the wrong kind of action. I would rather have had more leagues, and harder matches than watching players I can’t controls run about. Even ordinary manager games allow for quicker matches.
The matches aren’t realistic in any way either, and there is no referee. The only things happening during a match is kick-off, goals, corners, throw-inns, corners and goal kicks. For the football purist this is a bit lacking, but on the other hand it might be more accessible to those not into football. That is perhaps one of the strong aspects of the game, as you don’t need to know anything beforehand. All you need to grasp is that a higher number is better, and finding the best possible position for a player is shown in grades from F to S.
The presentation is as always a cool personal Kairosoft style. There are known players from other games by the same developer. The music, and sound effects are not as good as earlier. Especially the music has taken a turn for the worse, but you can play your own instead.
I still think it is a shame that there are no global leaderboards for the games from Kairosoft. It feels quite lonely recording a score, and compares it to your earlier scores. When you have beat the game twice there is little to do, and the game won’t be played again.
Pocket League Story has some great moments of fun when you finally beat that hard as nails team, or manage to get a superstar player for the first time. It is also a lesson in boredom with the drawn out matches with little interactivity. If you are into the simulation games from Kairosoft it is definitely worthy to add to the collection, but to newcomers and those hesitant to simulation games I urge you to pass.
Pocket League Story $2.99
Seller: Kairosoft Co., Ltd