Pocket League Story

Pocket League Story
Pocket League Story Cover
Platforms Android, iOS
Genre Super soccer simulator
Score 8  Clock score of 8

I find soccer boring. It has its exciting moments, but those usually happen when I’m getting a snack. On the other hand, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed lots of soccer video games over the years, starting with Nintendo World Cup for the NES and peaking with the insane Sega Soccer Slam on the GameCube. There’s just something so simplistic and fun about kicking a ball into a goal, especially when that ball is on fire.

So truthfully, I like arcade soccer, the kind of stuff displayed in the movie Shaolin Soccer. But when I discovered I was four games behind on Kairosoft’s Android releases, I decided to start with the soccer simulator: Pocket League Story.

In the same vein as Game Dev Story and Grand Prix Story, Pocket League Story has you guiding a soccer team from the dirt pile in your backyard to the top of the world. There are lots of numbers and tons of crunching, but most refreshing, every soccer game plays out in front of your eyes. If you thought watching your cars race in Grand Prix Story got me excited, well, you should have seen me when my first 11 versus 11 match played out. Here’s my review of Pocket League Story.

I’d be lying if I said there was a lot of originality in Pocket League Story. Boiled down to the bare metal, you’re still doing the same basic thing as most other Kairosoft games: making small numbers bigger. Of course, reducing most any game to its most simplistic elements can make it sound ridiculous, so what keeps me and others coming back over and over again to these simulations? Watching those numbers become something tangible.

What made Grand Prix Story so great was how it translated dozens of different race car factors into a real race that had you cheering for your little avatar as they zoomed around the track. One of the problems with that game was that no matter how much you wished, your super car was never going to beat that rival hyper car. It just wasn’t going to happen, you simply had to accept second place and spend more time and money to turn your super car into an equivalent hyper car.

What sets Pocket League Story apart is how it translates dozens of player and coach stats into a real soccer game. Super teams can and will beat hyper teams with the right amount of luck and skill placed in the right positions on the field. This is the American football equivalent of “any given Sunday,” numbers and stats matter less once you’re on the field, though in a proper simulation like this, they still weigh heavily.

Pocket League Story follows the traditional Kairosoft model of raising nothing into something. The game begins with you running an amateur football club made up of 11 suitably amateur players. As you win matches and tournaments, recruit sponsors, and do some basic building of your stadium complex, you’ll earn money and other points you can put into a variety of things.

Recruiting new players is an easy way to inject some star power into your team, but it can cost a significant amount of cash to sign them, and then a continuous per-game salary is taken out of your ticket sales. Otherwise, you can buff up your current players with training, but average players will run into their skill ceiling much quicker than world-class or superstar players, so in the end, your final team will still be made up of the Rooneys and Ronaldinhos of the soccer world.

Pocket League Story Soccer Match

Playing matches earns you experience, along with training between games, which continually levels up your squad behind the scenes. Money flows in, new players are recruited, and before you know it, you’re whooping down on rivals that were kicking your butt just an hour earlier. It’s satisfying to see Team Peanut get crushed under your heel in their own PBJ Stadium.

Watching the soccer game play out almost never gets old, I’ve seen over 300 two minute games play out over the last few weeks, and watching my forward head a ball past the goalie still makes me shout. I find this oddly bizarre, this is like watching the outer space battles of Gratuitous Space Battles play out, you have no input into the game once it has started, but you can’t look away because all your hard work and all those big numbers are turning into something real in front of your eyes.

Spectating has benefits beyond the simple entertainment it provides, the game also gives you very visual feedback on how well you’re building your team. Is your defense weak on the left? Should you change formations to give your offense a boost? Is that midfielder hopelessly outmatched by the competition? It’s all there for you to take in.

Pocket League Story Soccer Player ProfileIt’s also not entirely true that you don’t have any input after the game begins, you can trigger your players to go on-fire. Ever since NBA Jam spontaneously combusted basketball stars, arcade sports games have made it an almost standard feature. Your on-fire meter is on a per-player basis and builds up by getting tackled, it usually takes a few games to refresh, so pulling the trigger is something to really weigh. But once lit, that player is almost either guaranteed to score or make a great defensive save, though the boost is extinguished upon any goal being scored or the end of the half.

Another nice feature of the soccer matches is that they're not bogged down with injuries or fouls. It may be a tad unrealistic that your players never get hurt, but it alleviates enough micro-management that might have pushed it over the edge. Not having to deal with yellow or red cards is also a huge relief.

Pocket League Story isn’t without issues, Kairosoft still hasn’t figured out that Android phones and tablets usually have a Menu and Back buttons that should generally be tied to something in the game, and time progresses quite slow the first time you play through the game (you can speed it up only after you’ve beaten the game once). Second playthroughs are also complete easy mode as essentially everything you did in the first game is instantly brought over to the second. Browsing through 75 available players with no filter or sort is also a huge pain.

And while I love watching the soccer matches that are competitive, being able to skip blowouts would have been great, or just have the option to simulate the match altogether. There are a ton of other tedious portions too, including the slow process of courting sponsors and player candidates. Plenty of opportunity in cutting some of the presentation fat in Kairosoft titles.

In some ways, Pocket League Story is the best Kairosoft game I’ve played, but after four titles, I’m starting to see plenty of ways for the pocket simulators to improve. Either way, I’ve got three more games lined up to play.

Overall: 8


Year Eight Totals

  • Total Spectators: 2,333,810
  • Total Points: 305
  • Total Player Level: 446
  • Total Wins: 86
  • Team Evaluation: 582
  • Total Sponsor Satisfaction: 1937
  • Formations Discovered: 9
  • Total: 71,393
  • Silver Trophy