The beautiful game of football (or soccer for those across the pond) is generally known for its face-paced, high octane action. The players are constantly moving, constantly searching for that one crucial opening to find the back of the net. Ganbare! Super Strikers is an odd little duckling, then, as its strategy-based gameplay is very much a slow-paced affair, and ends up being incredibly jarring if you’re used to playing more traditional examples of the popular sport (as we all probably are).

The gameplay is turn-based, giving you and your CPU opponent the opportunity to interact with every player on the pitch, bar the goalkeeper. You’ll need to select each player and choose from a handful of options, including passing, tackling, or just simply moving position. Each player gets a maximum of two potential commands at a time, and once you’re done with your turn, your opponent then makes their moves.

When you’re given the option to interact with each player, the field turns into a grid format, allowing you to move anywhere within the set parameters. The game encourages you to think strategically, and like the classic game of chess, you’ll need to try and think several moves ahead if you’re to successfully score a goal and defend your own simultaneously. This is far more difficult in practice than you may think, as it can be incredibly difficult to predict where your opponent may move their players.

Additionally, performing moves such as passing, tackling, intercepting, or shooting bring up a power level, which will determine the success of your chosen action. So, for example, if you choose to shoot the ball towards the goal, your own power level will go head-to-head with that of the goalkeeper’s. Whichever power level comes out on top during the face-off will determine the outcome, so there’s often a certain level of luck involved with the game.

Graphically, Ganbare! Super Strikers looks pretty basic for the most part, but the modern, playful art style works quite well with the gameplay. Animation doesn’t fare so well, however, with players remaining completely static until you assign a move to them, and even then, their animation is limited to just a few frames at a time. There are a few flourishes added during more important moments, such as a lovely little comic book style image flashing on-screen when scoring a goal.

As a strategy game, Gambare! Super Strikers works well enough, but the novelty quickly wears a bit thin. The general gameplay is loaded with options to play around with, but a lot of it feels too reliant on luck, and we just can’t shake the feeling that it should be just a little bit faster. Still, if you’re a fan of the sport and want to get stuck in with the more strategic aspect of football, then this will definitely keep you busy for a while.