New Star Manager is a curious one. It’s one of those gem of a games that doesn’t come around often, but when it does it’s a highly enjoyable and rewarding experience. It’s challenging, fun and a game that you’re going to be putting countless hours into, and that’s coming from someone who hates watching football!
New Star Manager is available from 31/1/19 on Nintendo Switch
Cast your mind back to the late nineties and early noughties when football management games were incredibly popular. It was a simpler time, well before people were verbally abused online.
Now, New Star Games are releasing New Star Manager on Nintendo Switch. The premise of the game is simple; build up your team and rise to the top of the league tables.
Curiously, I’m not actually a football fan. I like playing football games, but found watching the sport itself a bit dull. Much like games such as Roller Coaster Tycoon, the more effort you put into the game, the more you’ll get out of it.
The gameplay is split up into two components; the management side of things, as well playing football.
With regards to the management side of things, you really do have free reign over the club. If it succeeds, it’s because of you, and if it falls flat on its face then it’s also because of you.
The performance of the club is split across how the players, press, the sponsors, the fans and the board perceive you. The board and the fans are the easiest ones to impress since it essentially involves winning your games.
An interesting approach to boosting the morale of the team is the ‘Team Talk’ aspect of the game which takes place at half time if you have a Manager Card. A list of phrases appears on the screen, some of which are red and others that are green before the colour disappears. If you select the green phrases, the team will be boosted, but if you end up selecting red ones then it’s been a fruitless effort.
As the club expands, you’ve got the option to greatly increase the training facilities for the team. This is both the buildings involved, but also bringing in new members of staff to assist with this. Much like any other football team, there’s also the option to build a youth training ground. Its touches like this that make it feel like a fully fleshed out football simulator. Of course, there’s also the fact that you can start selling club merchandise to build on the clubs popularity and also bring in a hefty amount of revenue. There’s also the fact that you play football in the game. Sort of.
Unlike other football games, New Star Manager only allows you to partially play during a match. This occurs when one of your players takes possession of the ball. The gameplay mechanics are extremely straightforward and the controls remain in the bottom left hand corner should you forget them.
Despite the simple mechanics, it feels really rewarding passing between the players. Likewise, curving the ball right round the keeper doesn’t get old no matter how many times you do it. The game is played in the top down format, much like World Cup Italia on the Mega Drive. Having said that, it still feels really immersive. As you would expect, you’re able to switch up the tactics as well as the match formation should you feel this does need a bit of tweaking. Pretty much anything can be changed to your desires.
Graphics and sound
Graphically the game is pretty good looking. It’s not overly demanding and let’s face it, it doesn’t need to be. Importantly, the UI is well laid out and there’s nothing that would be deemed confusing about the game. When compared to other management games such as Planet Coaster which can be extremely daunting, this isn’t the case with New Star Manager. It’s easy to swap out players when they’re becoming tired or injured as well as selling and buying players, during the transfer window for example.
The music in the menus is pretty jaunty and upbeat which fits with the overall feel of the game. It’s very much the case that you can pick this up for a quick five minute session and still be playing it after a few hours. It’s similar to the Tetris effect, you don’t realise how long you’ve spent on it because it’s genuinely engrossing.
When you’re on the pitch, the simple aesthetic continues. As mentioned above, the game is played top down. It’s never overly cluttered, and unlike say Fifa that can sometimes feel daunting, this is never the case when you’re playing football in New Star Manager. It’s always easy to see exactly where you’re going.
Rather pleasingly, when the supporters are getting pumped, they get quite vocal about how they’re feeling. The same is true when you do score a goal. It all just fits together into this great package and it makes the experience as a whole a lot more immersive.