If you’ve had Android for any length of time, chances are you have run into some Kairosoft games in the Play Store at some point. There games seem to pop up all over the place with a different spin on a well made system. If you haven’t, you really should – They create some of the best sim games that I have come across on a mobile device, especially if you are a fan of times when graphics were simpler.
This time round, I am going to be looking at Pocket League Story 2. Yup, the follow on from their previous football management sim. The basis is simple; build up and manage a team of soccer nobodies to a team of legends and slowly conquer all of the leagues until you are a soccer diety (or higher) and are able to pummel the likes of Spain and Italy without a cursory glance. There are also online leagues, and VS matches against anybody in your friends list.
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I’ll say this from the start just to make it clear – the game is very slow to start with, but bear with it as you can speed it up if you save some coins (Okay a lot of coins as you need 90). It’s worth it, it speeds it up massively. The slow pace does help you get it to the swing of things to start off with though, so maybe it is not so bad after all.
Anyway, back the to actual game and not me being some pedant. You start off with a very basic team that are actually quite rubbish, but that is okay as so are you opponents. In typical Kairosoft fashion, you have a very helpful and possibly patronising assistant who guides you through the start, be it getting your first sponsor, signing up your first transfer, or training your team up so that they can actually cope with moving around for the whole of a game and kick able and run quick enough to get around your opponents. Luckily after a while you PA decides to be a bit more quiet and only talks to you when your player gets invited to the National team, or selected for the vote of the most valuable player. They’ll also grace your mortal presence with a heart warming thank you message at the end of each year.
As well as signing new players, you can also sign a new coach. New coaches can only be done once a year, but they help you learn new formations, better train your team, and earn research points that come in 2 different forms; light bulbs, and hearts. Light bulbs can be spent on training, gaining sponsors, or research. Hearts can be spent on items in the shop. You earn these from matches or using team facilities.
The research mentioned above is actually a pretty massive part of the game. Neglect it and you won’t advance as quickly. It unlocks things such as new coaches, facilities, sponsors, players, and coins. The more you do it, the higher your rank. The higher your rank, the better the return. Let us take facilities as an example. Levelling that up can double your training ground capacity, discover new buildings, and improve the playing surface at your stadium. The stadium ground means more facilities, which means more research points. Well worth it as it gives you more points for training…
… Which is also a massive part of the game. Your players have different abilities and different skills. There stats affect what they are suited for, such as a defender is better suited with a higher body stat so they fall down less than Ronaldo. Midfielders need a higher technique state so they can run circles around your opponents and pass the ball around quicker, and strikers need a higher kick stat, otherwise you’ll end up with a bunch of Heskeys’ which is really not what you want, is it? Training raises these. But it can also be made more efficient by training with different compatibilities. I’m not going to get into that too much, but you can check out this Spanish site that has it all covered for you.
But how does it play? Well, actually pretty awesomely. As with all Kairosoft games, be prepared to get addicted rather quickly, and drain your battery in impressive speed. The training and game build up time can actually get pretty engrossing, and in the early hours in can get pretty fun trying out new combinations of your players and building up their strengths to how you want them. Quick hint: If you want to play around with an items effect, you can save, do it, and then quit and re open if you don’t like the outcome for that player, this also works in games if you don’t like to lose).
In game, you don’t have massive amounts of control. You can change the passing method between 3 styles – Normal, Short, and Long pass – change formation and make up to 3 substitutions. Being a Kairosoft game, there is also an aura gauge that builds up depending on how your players are performing. This can be pretty useful when you are in a dead heat and need that little extra something from your player to go and get the goal. When active, it disappears after a goal is scored and it starts to fill the meter again, so use it wisely, or you’ll end up getting butt hurt by Spain because you decided it was more important to use it in the game before against some rubbish team like the Tapeworms just before hand. Planning is key, especially in leagues.
One of the things that I did really like is that you don’t have to start from scratch at the end of each game (16 years). Your player stats remain, your items remain, and the speed up purchase stays as a constant. This makes subsequent years much quicker. Sure, you have to hire players and coaches again, but it makes the want to replay so much higher for me. Again, this is something that Kairosoft put into most of their games.
There is also weather effects and different pitch types that can make a bit of a difference in how your team plays, so this is something to keep in mind when you are setting your players skills up for each game and adding slots. I personally make sure my main players have all of the weather and pitch types covered in their skills so that I know they aren’t going to disappoint me.
The graphics are 8bitesque. Whilst they have quite a bit of colour, they are rather pixelated. if this isn’t your thing, you’re probably reading the wrong review, but if like me you quite like the change from stupidly real games, you’re in for a treat. You can adjust the extent of the effects as well if you’re having issues with your phone running slowly at times. Setting to low turns off the mini map in game, and weather effects, and setting to medium gets rid of the anti-aliasing, which I find makes it look a little better.
The audio is another issue. The first thing you will want to do is turn off the sound. But lets face it, you’ll likely end up playing this one whilst having a toilet break when at work, so you’ll likely have the sound down anyway. Why you ask? The music, oh god the music – It makes me want to inflict harm on something it is that repetitive and mind numbing. Just don’t subject yourself to it.
And the controls? Well, they’re pretty flawless. I can only find one possible issue and that is when you are in a match and you try to change the passing strategy. For me it can be a bit misleading as you can press it and it will flick through and skip one of the entries, yet when you slow down and see what it is set to, it is the one it missed. This happened on both my One S and Nexus 7, so I am presuming it is a global issue rather than me being a little on the slow side (this time).
If you’re thinking that was a bit too long to read, well, here’s a TL;DR for you. Even if you do not like football too much you may well enjoy this game. It is engrossing, very addictive and just generally fun. It is also free, sure that gives you ad’s, but it would say it is definitely worth paying the fee to get rid of the ads. This stays across devices as well, which is nice.