Not long ago Dave and I had the privilege of interviewing computer game designer Kevin Toms. (You can check out that show here.) For anyone who doesn’t know, Kevin was responsible for creating the hugely successful Football Manager way back in 1982. He has recently gone on to make Kevin Toms Football Star Manager which has been a huge hit not only with fans of the original game, but also a new generation of gamers.
I don’t tend to play many football games these days, only occasionally dabbling with FIFA or Pro Evolution Soccer. When I was a kid my football game of choice was Kick Off 2 on the Commodore Amiga. During the summer holidays I’d spend all day in the park playing football with my friends, and when it started to get dark we’d come home and spend the evening with Kick Off 2. They were magical times! The only real management simulation I dabbled with was Player Manager. This was made by Dino Dini who also made Kick Off 2, so you can probably imagine why I liked it so much.
As time went on my friends started to become obsessed by Championship Manager and later on Football Manager. These games always seemed far too complicated for me which is why I left the football management simulation behind. I’m not saying that they are bad games, but they have so many statistics and numbers that I have often heard them described as, “spreadsheets rather than games.”
Anyway, going back to Kevin Toms Football Star Manager, I knew that Dave was a big fan of the original game and also the latest version. Hearing Dave and Kevin talk passionately about the game was enough to convince me to spend the princely sum of £3.59 on the Google Play Store. Let me tell you right now that it is the best £3.59 I have spent in a long time!
If like me you are put off with complicated football simulations, you have no need to worry about this with Kevin’s game. After easily setting up my team, (I decided to manage my beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers) I very quickly became accustomed to the clean and simple menus.
For most of the time the biggest decisions you will make are picking your team each week. Every player has a number value based on skill, fitness and age. That is as difficult as it gets! Of course it sounds simple, but like the best games, they are easy to pick up and hard to put down. Do you decide to go with a 5* rated player with a low fitness rating, or an inexperienced player with a fitness level of 20? I was surprised just how quickly the game grabbed my attention and I became absolutely engrossed with each match.
Some of the strategy in the game comes from deciding when to buy and sell players to strengthen your team. At first you have a meagre budget, but you can raise funds by applying for a loan to help increase your chances of success. As well as managing your team, you also have to manage their morale. Win games and your morale naturally increases, play badly and you can easily start to lose the dressing room. You can boost your morale twice during a season, but this again is another strategy of deciding the best time to use it.
One of the things that I enjoyed most about the game is the match highlights. You can either watch the matches with commentary text, or see the highlights. Now, don’t expect FIFA or PES levels of presentation, but for my money, I have had more fun and excitement watching what could best be described as stick figures running around! Despite the graphics being quite basic, it was surprising how much I found myself getting invested in the outcome of each match. Dave even said that he has cheered whilst watching the highlights of some of his matches!
The biggest recommendation I can give Kevin Toms Football Star Manager is that I started playing the game at 10pm. I finally turned it off at 1.30am, and this is only because I could hardly keep my eyes open. The beauty of the game is that you can play it for 10 minutes, or like I did, for over 3 hours.
Kevin Toms Football Star Manager is simple, fun and extremely addictive! For the price of a pint of beer and a packet of crisps you get an absolutely superb game that will keep you entertained for hours and hours!
Available now for: Android, iPhone/iPad, Windows, Kindle Fire, Mac OS X
Review by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With)