Ganbare! Super Strikers is a tactical/RPG hybrid football game. It does lean more towards being a turn based strategy RPG game with football/soccer acting as an overall theme. From a little research, I discovered ganbare is a Japanese word/phrase meaning to persevere. This fits nicely with the title, because you play as a lowly Japanese club team with aspirations of being the champions of the local league before looking to become world champions. The graphics are quite bright and something you’d expect from the 16bit era. The music and sound effects are not impressive as the music consists of a high tempo track which is quickly forgettable, and the sound effects are a combination of plink and plop sounds as you navigate menus with the occasional kicking a ball sound.
There isn’t much backstory in this game; you’re just the new guy on the squad and the captain of the team welcomes you in, giving you a tutorial before the game starts. You do get the option to customise your character’s name, club name and club crest for a personal touch. You can also customise your teammate’s names and looks if you wish. The captain breaks down all the football elements and how they work in this tactical strategy game. You play the standard two halves of football and try to win the match by scoring more goals than your opponent. If you win the game, you get to move onto the next match in the league. If you lose you just have to play that team again until you beat them. But whether you win or lose your players will gain experience depending on how many actions they performed in the game.
The gameplay itself is actually quite clever in its logic, but can also be frustrating. In the match you and your foe take it in turns to complete your actions. On your turn, you can move any of your players up to two times which includes either a movement or an action; so, during your turn, you could potentially move all of your outfield players twice before ending your turn, but you’d never need to. This is because every action or movement costs stamina and if you use a special skill it will cost skill points also. Once you are satisfied with your actions you can end your turn. However, you will automatically lose your turn if the opponent intercepts the ball from you. In the same as other strategy battles, each conflict is a numbers game.
If you are passing a ball to a teammate and there is an opponent in the way, then your passing stat is competing against the opponents blocking stat. But for added excitement, a random number generator kicks in and picks a number that is within a certain range of your base stat number. For example, if your passing stat is 50 the random number generator will pick a number between 40-60. Likewise, if the opponents block stat is 40, they could get a number between 30-50. Using these metrics, the odds are on for the pass to complete, but there is a chance still that it could fail. In each of these conflicts, whether it is tackling someone, dribbling past, passing over or shooting at them, it is a battle of stats and you are given a probability of success before you confirm the action. Sadly, I have suffered way too many losses of conflicts even though the probability of success is over 90% which makes me question the maths at times.
This game offers you a variety of equipment through beating the opponents and hitting the objectives set for the match. These include winning the match, performing a specific skill move or just not conceding a goal in the match. The skill moves are your way of gaining an edge in conflict and so are very important to learn and use. Some of your characters already have some skill moves and they can learn more skills by wearing certain equipment in the match. Some equipment just offers a boost to a certain stat, but they only take effect whilst you are wearing the gear. The skill moves are quite varied and can inflict a certain bad status on an enemy from poisoning, freezing, putting them to sleep, making them naked! Or even inflicting death!!! Considering the game is a very light-hearted football game it is a bit surprising to see those last two statuses. Inflicting the naked status just makes any equipment they are wearing ineffective and death just mean the person can’t perform an action for the rest of the match.
There isn’t much longevity in Ganbare! as the main game consists of 7 league matches of 7-a-side, and then another 7 international matches of 11-a-side and that’s it. Each match has 3 objectives to achieve to gain extra equipment. If you start to struggle against one of the teams, you can go back and play previous teams you have beaten to rack up the experience, complete objectives and learn more special skills. There is an option to quick play a friend or a computer and also a chance to set up a local tournament or league should have multiple friends willing to play this with you.
Ganbare! Super Strikers is a fun arcade-style tactical football RPG game. For those familiar, it is akin to playing a light version of Inazuma Eleven, but with little to no storyline. It is quite fun to play but it is incredibly short, though the option is there for you play this locally with a friend. This could be great for those that like tactical strategy RPGs, especially if you’re a football fan, and is very simple to pick up and play.