Published on January 31st, 2019 | by Lee Davies
Review: New Star Manager (Switch eShop)
Format reviewed: Switch eShop
Other formats available: PC, iOS, Android
Developer: New Star Games
Publisher: Five Aces Publishing
Website: Official Website
Welcome to New Star Manager: The critically acclaimed game from Simon Read, creator of the BAFTA Award-winning New Star Soccer series. Take control of New Star FC – a beleaguered soccer club which needs your management skills and instincts to unlock the team’s potential and make it to the top of the game. This is soccer management like you’ve never experienced it – Be more than just a player, be the head, the heart, and backbone of New Star FC. Be the Manager.
New Star Manager throws two styles of game at you. First, and foremost, it’s a football management simulator. But, also there are times when you’ll direct the actions of your players on the pitch in a more hands on style. That is, actually passing, shooting, and hopefully scoring to bring your team to the glory it deserves. These two disparate parts fit together seamlessly, but both don’t hold equal weight in how their function and perform. It would be nice to focus on one element rather than both, but the choice is not there for you to make. Player-Manager it is then.
Before you start your first full season, you’ll take control of the ailing New Star FC, at the end of last year’s season. This is your introduction to the skills you’ll need to master to overhaul your lower middle division table aspirations of latter attempts. There’s a lot thrown at you in quick succession, and it’s a virtually impossible job to take it all in during the first attempt. It’s with experience and seeing things at your own pace that you’ll be able to build on the basics and refresh your knowledge of all those sub-menus that make the difference between winning and losing.
There’s no official licence here, and choosing a Welsh location for my team, put me in the Welsh 2 1 league for my first season with Welsh football legends, such as HAVERF (shortened from Haverford), LLANEL (Llanelli), B FERRY (Briton Ferry), and so on. Not being a football fan, but enjoying playing Sensible Soccer, Kick Off 2, International Superstar Soccer and other virtual delights, I’m not too bothered about the lack of official and real names and locations. Others, I appreciate would be, and while Football Manager 2019, also on the Switch, is fully licensed, New Star Manager offers in depth, but easy to understand mechanics for an easy pick up and play alternative.
As you’d imagine for a Manager Sim game it’s all in here. Before you kick off, all elements of running a club can be manipulated, as long as funding is available, in the form of Bux. Building Training Centres, Youth Centres, Medical Facilities, Scouting Centres, Shops, and staffing them with the correct affordable person, and the all important Stadium and its Stands takes a small amount of your focus, but the majority of your gaze will be on your squad, its maintenance, and transfers. Volatile players will have to be handled with care in order to get their mind back in the game by monitoring their concerns and outbursts. The investor’s board need to be placated, the sporting press must be kept interested, and making sure to keep the fans’ happiness levels high with cheap merchandise and ticket prices, while maintaining your club’s wealth are not all easy to achieve at the same time. Sacrifices must be made.
New Star Manager also adds in elements of mini-games to earn cards that add buffs and extra abilities to your players. Answering a high pressure interview question correctly, pleasing the board of directors, keeping sponsors happy, even making your fans delighted can all earn extra rewards in the form of cards, that in turn strengthen your squad. All adjustments to your squad can be made on the fly in match, implemented when the ball goes dead. Squad substitutions, formation, player positions, work rate of the team, focus on defence, offence or balanced play can all be tinkered with.
During the match the game area is divided into two, showing your squad and its health on the left, and a text dialogue of on-pitch action on the right. When your team presses forward, the game changes to a dynamic overhead of the pitch and you take over as the players. This is not a traditional football game, but plays a slower game, more akin to chess. Having no button input pauses the game, here you can order players, with the Right Analogue Stick to go on runs, and put through balls in with the ZL and B. ZR lets you dribble, and Y shoots or tackles. Get into a position where you think a good scoring opportunity is feasible and hit the Y button. Take great care that your last trajectory was toward the goal, shown by the big red arrow, or it’s going wide. This takes you to yet another screen, the zoom in shot mode. Depending on circumstance the ball will slowly, or quickly move across the screen, wait for the right moment, and with the right amount of spin (applied with the Left Analogue Stick), and send it screaming into the back of the net with another tap of Y.
This takes a lot of getting used to, before true mastery takes hold of your squad, and gets easier to control with a better roster of highly trained players.
The entirety of New Star Manager can be played using touch screen or traditional controls, even the football aspects. I found a mix of touchscreen controls for the management areas, with its plethora of menus and sub menus to work best, but then changing over to button inputs while kicking the ball around the pitch. Fortunately, this happens seamlessly, with no lag. In fact, the whole game, whilst not the greatest of looking games, runs flawlessly smooth, and all the touch screen inputs hit home even with the slightly small looking hit zone on some of the management choices.
After playing a match, you”ll get the opportunity to choose one card from one of the facilities that you’ve built, e.g. the training facility will give you a stat boost card for skill, fitness, pace, strength, etc. And these can be implemented to strengthen a particular player’s lacking skill in your squad. The grind of building a stronger and more professional squad is slow and real, but New Star Manager is successful in drawing you back into another match, and then another season.
New Star Manager (Switch eShop)
Summary: Whilst lacking a full FIFA licence, New Star Manager does successfully provide a deep yet easy to pick up Football Management Simulator, that becomes hard to put down once your 'boys' start a winning streak.