We've reached a point in Kairosoft's output where a pattern begins to form. On one side are Game Dev Story [$3.99 / Lite] and Grand Prix Story [$3.99 / Lite], games mostly about teams and what they can achieve. On the other side are five other titles that are more about building the perfect environment, be it mall, town, school, or hot spring. Their newest release, Pocket League Story [$2.99] falls squarely in column A. This time, you're creating the perfect soccer team, and you won't need spreadsheets or a love of soccer to enjoy yourself.
I'd go so far as to say that Pocket League Story is the most approachable game Kairosoft has put out on iOS to date. There are a few tricks to min-maxing the game, but if you do exactly what it tells you to do you'll be fine. For the spreadsheet geeks among us it may be too straightforward, but ultimately this is the perfect game to serve as an introduction to Kairosoft's catalog, or for anyone who loves their games but gets hung up on lists of combos and other arcana.
As manager of a soccer team, you're responsible for pretty much everything your team does, right down to the strategies they use on the field. The only thing that's out of your hands is how they play in the moment, and even there you have some input.
You're given control over hiring and firing players, arguably the most important part of the game. You might love your starting team, with their bright-eyed eagerness, but they're terrible. Just atrocious. They'll get you through the first few games, but your priority is to court better talent. Think Game Dev Story's talent pool, but vaster and more costly. You can really customize your team down to the last detail.
Building your team is an ongoing process, one you'll handle alongside training your players. You earn research points both on the field and off, and you can use those to improve your players stats, build up a fan base, and unlock new content. There is a bit of a building sim tucked in as you set up training facilities, but it's really low key. Most of your time off the field will be spent managing numbers, choosing basic coaching strategies and courting players, sponsors and fans.
On the field, things get a bit weirder. Like Grand Prix Story's races, Pocket League Story's matches mostly play themselves. You pick lines and formations in advance, and basic passing technique during the game. You can also fiddle with your strategy at halftime and trigger auras here or there, but your players are mostly on their own.
So you're left spectating a lot of the time. There's a huge selection of matches and league tournaments to work through in the eight years you're given, but they all boil down to the same thing: watch as your players win or lose. Games can take three or four minutes, and Pocket League soccer just isn't that stimulating a spectator sport after a few hours.
This is a misstep, for sure, because it takes players out of that non-stop, always-something-on-the-go mentality that Game Dev Story so perfected. It's much easier to put this game down than any of Kairosoft's other titles - not that that's necessarily the worst thing for those of us with other things to do.
Whether you'll enjoy Pocket League Story depends a lot on where you're coming from. Aside from a few issues some of our forum users with older devices have run into, this is probably the cleanest Kairosoft game yet. The translation is good, the tutorial explanations are clear and nothing's left to muddling through foreign cultural references. So it's easy to get into, and lays out all the traditional sim fun in a very manageable way.
But it's also quite shallow, with neither the complexity of a proper football simulator or the depth of most of Kairosoft's other games. If the meta-game of keeping spreadsheets and consulting FAQs is your thing, give this one a pass. But if it's the first Kairosoft title you're considering or you're okay with a streamlined experience, I can recommend Pocket League Story wholeheartedly.
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