I've played two versions of Winning Eleven...6 and 8...till my thumbs turned blue...and there's one thing I keep thinking to myself, and this thinking has led to, I think, being able to fully unlock and enjoy the game...the moves, the complexity, the strategy...ie. not just winning, but "winning pretty"....: It's a Japanese game, dude. #1: that means that precise timing and button pressing (think Virtua Fighter and DDR) are going to be critical across the board. Japanese games are all about...uh...technique and timing and tapping...and not button mashing. They're about indirectness and finesse...about sometimes doing the opposite of what you'd think...and getting rewarded for it. (like, uh, duh...that and do NOT serve the fuction I thought they did at first with WE6....I tap them now and cajole them into my moves.) #2: It also means that anything that is functionally "in the game"....Training. Dribble Moves. Fatigue Bars. Opponent Data. Special Abilities. Player Development Curves. Moves the CPU pulls on you.....is fully FUNCTIONAL. By that, I mean if it's there, you gotta use it...and you gotta use it in conjunction with all the other stuff...but if you do, you will get rewarded for it, not just by "winning"...which is only part of it...but by having a cool gaming experience that unlocks the full potential of the game, ie. rewards you for your strategy and skill and, flat out, makes the game LOOK COOL. (another really Japanese thing.) #3: Folks tend to call WE a "sim" but to me...it's also, because it's Japanese...it's also imo, on some level, an RPG / Strategy game. It's definitely NOT FIFA in this respect. ie. All that stuff about "My Eleven" and "My Team" and formations and arrows and the seeming "bogus" player ratings etc. etc. is in there so that you get addicted to the idea of building and training your specific team to do specific things the way the game is meant to be played. And, yeah, because it's a Japanese game, you're supposed to be completely masochistic about it. (think of the hours folks spend on Final Fantasy games building up their ragtag band of heroes...it's the exact same thing in WE, imo.) You want to have great looking bending cross passes for diving headers?...do the training. You like having underdogs develop into cool "winners"?....you can if you do the work and pay attention to player development. You want to get on the "player ratings" board?....read the post match report in all it's gory details...and change the way you play the game. #4: All this adds up to the fact that the more you play the game by it's rules....the better, the more real, the more cool it actually works and looks. ie. It's not just about "beating the game"....it's about making the game look and work like it's really supposed to work. So that it looks and plays like the opening animation...and gives the feeling of real "soccer"...and has this scary level of realism and depth. Basically, it reaches a point where you savor the whole match and all the "add ons"...where it's just fun to play, period. Where it's not even about winning, it's about playing and trying to do cool stuff. It's like seeing some kid whose a Virtua Fighter master at an Arcade and realizing that all those insane combos that you never could master actually DO SOMETHING...and that they aren't necessarily all that hard...they just require an insane, almost masochistic level of discipline and counter intuitiveness to get into your technique. But when you do learn them...the game looks about fifty times more cool....and effortless. And that's the key aspect that makes it Japanese. Effortlessness and finesse. Japanese games are all about that. The point isn't to hammer the thing in the goal time after time the same way over and over again with some dude who's stats are on steroids. (Although I guess that's cool if you're into it...and does have a Japanese aspect to it.) It's about taking your striker and running onto a through pass from your "playmaker" and pausing in just the right way...without even dribbling the ball...so that you can tap a "first touch" skill shot under the keepers legs. It's also about knowing how and when to do that. It's about building up a player so that they pull out a move...the "360 degree" leaping header comes to mind...that you've never seen before...and can't get to happen again even if you try a hundred times. Somebody in some design studio in Japan put that in there...and it cost $$$ to put it in there....knowing that it would only happen a few times for every gamer, but that it would be worth it to them. An American game would make that animation happen way more often....I mean, why have it otherwise?... but this isn't an American game. It's subtle. And, yeah, basically, there's a fakeness here. You time things right and you unlock animations that you don't "really" control and may never see again. The game plays to fast...but slows things down to let you do things. It's scripted in the sense of when you get the timing down...it starts to "sing." But my point is that after giving WAY TOO MUCH OF MY GOLDANG LIFE to this game... I realize that the folks who designed this game in Japan have thought it through on an obsessive level that is even MORE OBSESSIVE and DEEP that what I've given to it or ever could. (I do have a life.) And that every stupid little thing in the game adds up. It so Japanese. I mean, those stupid Substitution animations...which I just skip over......are there because, if you ask me, the game desiginers are saying..."if you want to beat this game in the big matches learn how and when to sub"....and the weather report with the wind flag at in the opening scene....again...there for a reason. Strategy and RPG meets skills and timing with the buttons. And all of it adds up to a moment when your striker...falling down, with a man on his back....lobs a bicycle kick off an indirect pass....backwards over his head and curving above the goalkeeper's hands...and into the top of the net... and you KNOW that you earned it...and...that you'll probably NEVER see that move again. That's what makes the game Japanese.