Decent footy games are few and far between these days, even more so if you’re more inclined towards the strategy side of sport. We’ve got Football Manager 2019 Touch for stat lovers, and although it’s a watered down experience it’s still quite overbearing for beginners. New Star Manager finds a nice middle ground between obsessively managing a group of players, a clubs finances, and relationships with the press, fans, and board, and having some good old-fashioned fun.
New Star Manager actually started life as a mobile game, so the jump to Switch kind of makes sense; you can play it using just touchscreen controls in portable mode if you’re already familiar with the game. Don’t worry though, there are still traditional controls for those who love their Joy-Cons and Pro controllers. I just happen to prefer the touch screen…
New Star Manager is a mix of genres. It’s still got some of New Star Soccer holding it together but there’s now the added ingredient of cards. It’s basically a card game off the pitch and an evolution of New Star Soccer on the pitch. Putting a team together means swapping out players who’ve got low energy or injuries, while training is all done via Coaches and the various cards they produce after every other match. It’s a nice system and it’s not all that confusing thanks to the handy tutorial that holds your hand for first 10 minutes or so.
It’s not just the team you’re building in New Star Manager, but also the club. Winning games brings in money, and that money can be used to improve the clubs facilities. You start off with next to nothing, but soon enough you’ll have your own training facilities to improve your players; a medical unit to get your lads back up to strength quicker after injury; a club store to bring in some extra revenue, and more. You’ll also need to improve your stadium. Building outwards means more ticket sales which means more cash to improve elsewhere. It’s all very easy to understand and the sense of progression is nicely presented.
So there’s enough off-the-pitch action to keep management nerds happy, but what about the actual football? This is my favourite part of the game, actually, despite me being a management nerd.
As I mentioned earlier, the matches are an evolution of New Star Soccer. Rather than just watching commentary or having the odd kick here and there, you’re basically playing the match’s highlights. Every so often you’ll be given the chance to have an impact on the match itself. It’s not just a one-off scenario. You can make a run with the ball, pass it onto another player, instruct another player to make a run, pass the ball to his feet, dribble towards the opposing box and take a crack at goal – all in one go. Or you can faff it up and lob the ball straight to the opposition and then go back to reading the commentary…
It looks great in action, too, though the graphics are rather simple anyway so it’s not exactly a test of the Nintendo Switch’s hardware. The overall presentation is very good though, and fair play to the developer for making the user interface very usable no matter how you’re playing the game. Whether it’s on TV, tabletop mode, or handheld, everything works just fine. That being said… I did have a couple of crashes over the course of a few evenings. They were very infrequent, though very annoying, but it only occurred a couple of times out of 20-odd hours of gameplay. I’ve had worse.
New Star Manager really is best played in mobile mode, especially when playing matches. Tapping players to pass and drawing a players run across the pitch is much more intuitive with a finger, as any mobile player of the game will tell you.
Matches can be done and dusted within a few short minutes and you can be in the next one before you’ve had time to celebrate the 94th-minute 30-yard screamer your fictional striker slotted home. It’s very obviously a mobile game repurposed for Nintendo Switch, but I find that it’s great for quick bursts when I’ve got a few minutes to spare. That being said… It’s just as easy to lose an hour tapping away in bed. Not like that…
New Star Manager Nintendo Switch Review
New Star Manager is a brilliant little game that’ll suck the hours out of your life if you let it. It’s a blend of card game and simple footy, but it’s a blend that works very well and is suited perfectly to the Nintendo Switch’s portable capabilities.
Good depth to the management side of the game
Matches are great fun and really tense once you move up the leagues – proper tactical battles
Charming graphics and generally good presentation with a decent UI
A bit of stutter during matches can ruin a shot on goal
A bit expensive (free on mobile with microtransactions)
Reviewed using Nintendo Switch.