Level 5 showed off a couple of new DS games here at the Tokyo Game Show. One of its prime efforts seems to be Inazuma Eleven, which translates into Lightning Eleven. Fans of the Winning Eleven series should recognize what the title signifies: This is a soccer game. From the trailers that we saw, this appears to be a mixture of Shaolin Soccer-style high-action sports play with role-playing game story elements.
Although the names of the characters were all in Japanese, it appears that the main protagonists of Inazuma Eleven are all members of a soccer academy. They're a ragtag bunch, although they're all discernable by their physical characteristics: There's a physically huge defender, a character with an eye patch, a character with goggles, a mysterious blonde striker, and an affable, big-gloved goalie who appears to be the main character. We didn't get many details about the story, but you will be able to perform some RPG explorations around your academy in between matches. A lengthy section of the cutscene also introduced the antagonists, a rival military-style academy that fields a black-clad soccer team that's apparently led by a shadowy mastermind.
The soccer action here seems to be a mixture of stylus controls with one-on-one combat between the offensive and defensive players. You control your progression down the field by clicking on the player who currently controls the ball and then drawing a run path for him or her by dragging the stylus across the playing field, which will hopefully let you avoid defenders. To pass, you simply click on another nearby player and the pass is attempted automatically.
Attempting to shoot appears to be a somewhat more difficult matter because your offensive players have to overcome the defenders. We're not sure if this is done automatically or not, but when you try to shoot, your attacker's offensive power is compared with the defender's power. Having the higher number will let you overcome your defender and bust through to take a shot, while presumably getting overtaken will let the defender knock the ball away.
We know from the trailer that special shots are available to you, such as a fire-based attack that turns the ball into a blazing comet or even shots that let multiple attackers combine their powers for one massive shot. Although we didn't get a glimpse at how these attacks are inputted, the overall impression we got was that the game seemed fairly similar to the Blitzball game from Final Fantasy X.
At the end of the trailer segment, we were given what's apparently the must-have bit of swag from TGS 2007: a demo cartridge with demos of both Inazuma Eleven and the latest Professor Layton game. When we get a chance to go hands-on with Inazuma Eleven, we'll update this preview with more information, so stay tuned.