For young football fans (soccer for my American friends) of the 80’s and 90’s, Football Manager wasn’t a game, it was a way of life. For the purists amongst us, you will no doubt remember the game by its original name Championship Manager. This was a game that you could load up on a cold, wet Saturday morning with a view to playing one or two matches before realising that it’s nearly time for your Sunday night bath ready for school the next day. When engrossed in Football Manager, days seem like hours and hours seem like minutes such is the manner in which the game sucks you in.
For the uninitiated, Football Manager is not your typical football (soccer) game, you don’t use a direction pad to run your players around the pitch etc. Football Manager, as the name obviously suggests, puts you as the manager of your chosen team and tasks you with the day-t0-day running of a football club. This covers everything from stadia, player transfers, finances, match tactics and so much more. You set up everything behind the scenes, pick your team and then sit back and watch as your players perform according to your instructions. Depending on the team you manage a successful season could be anything from winning the Champions League to surviving relegation to the bottom division.
- A blast from the past?
The Main Game
From its humble beginnings on the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST, Football Manager is one of those games that receives an annual update around the same time each year updating the player rosters and adding new features. It hit the PSP and iOS last year and finally it’s landed on Android.
Football Manager Handheld is not a direct port of the desktop version, anyone expecting that could end up slightly disappointed. The handheld version is a cut down version that’s designed to be easier to access in order to cater for the more casual gamer who may just be looking to kill some time on the daily commute. The game transfers to a touch-screen format nicely with a simplified layout, there are less options and not as many facets of the managerial role. Let me reassure you now, a stripped down game does not mean stripped down fun, the game is still as much fun and just as addictive as ever.
All of the major leagues and clubs are represented and there’s a huge database of over 20,000 real life players. The main match view will be familiar to those who have followed the franchise over the years. Watching the match involves watching 22 coloured dots swarming around the screen, moving along a white dot (the football). It may not sound like edge of the seat stuff but just try it for yourself and see!
Just like the desktop version, the game lasts as long as your managerial career does. You might find yourself poached by clubs from other countries, you may find yourself called up to manage a national team or perhaps you’ll get the sack. I recall entering the 20th season of my career on the 2002/2003 desktop version of the game, an achievement that I won’t (but undoubtedly could) replicate on the handheld edition.
In order to really make the most of the handheld edition, there is a separate challenge mode designed for the more casual gamer. Challenge mode throws you into the middle of one of four set scenarios where you are tasked with leading your team through a particular crisis or campaign. The challenge must be complete before the end of the season.
The challenges include scenarios such as steering a poor performing club from relegation, avoid being sacked from an injury struck club, and leading a top club to an undefeated season. They are each straight forward enough to pick up and play easily however they are tough enough to keep Football Manager veterans satisfied. All in all, a welcome edition to the main game.
Football Manager Handheld 2012 will cost you £6.99 (approx $11) and brings all of the polish and playability you would expect from a Sega title. Long time followers of the series will enjoy this game, the stripped down handheld edition actually feels a lot like the desktop version did circa 2003 which, in my opinion, was when the game was at its best. Subsequent releases became a little too complex with the sheer number of options available almost getting in the way of just playing the core game.
Casual gamers and Football Manager newcomers may well enjoy the main game however the four challenges are sure to be the ideal way to introduce people to the game and allow them to cut their teeth before progressing to the big wide world of career mode.
This is an addictive and immersive game that will help the longest train journey pass in a flash as well as being responsible for losing entire weekends without trace. So what are you waiting for? Dig out your sheepskin coat and hit the link below to get downloading!
Google Play Store