Retro Mini – Football Manager

Having finally picked up Football Manager 2017 for Christmas, I will shortly be surviving on sips of cold, forgotten tea, pot noodles and whatever light burns into my retinas from the monitor. Although on the plus side, I can start making some serious progress on my blog.

But before all that, let’s take a trip down memory lane to see where the obsession started…

For a certain segment of the gaming population, the words ‘Football Manager’ conjure up images not of Sports Interactive but the smiling, bearded face of Kevin Toms.

The original Football Manager was released in 1982 and ported to every system known to man.

After picking your team, you are tasked with guiding them from the Fourth to the First Division with the diversion of some cup games in between. Players have ratings for ability and energy whilst morale rises and falls depending on the teams results. A rudimentary transfer system is also in place. Tactics exist in the sense that the ratings for the defenders, midfielders and attackers selected are added together, allowing you to select a formation to maximise your threat in specific areas or perhaps to beef up your defence with an extra man.

It is a remarkably simple game in many ways yet for all that it set the template for some of the key aspects of the genre. Player ratings for instance. Sure it has evolved exponentially from the single digit offered here to the multitude ratings of a modern FM player yet the basic concept is at heart the same. Equally morale and ‘energy’ (or stamina) as ratings are simple and intuitive whilst other basic elements of management, such as bank loans and transfer dealings were all included.

But perhaps the most fun to be had is with the match highlights as goal chances are played out by crude stick men. It would be years before the modern FM series would implement such a feature and here it is of course limited in the extreme. But it works.

There are any number of flaws you can pick apart with the game. There are no in match player ratings, no subs, no track of goalscorers, no training. Sound is limited to a series of annoying beeps, player names bear no relation to the team you choose, all teams play in either black or white, there don’t appear to be any goalkeepers!

But none of that matters. It is hyperbole to say that the genre would not exist without this game. Yet for many of us, this is where it all began and the game deserves a special place of recognition in any hall of fame.

This mini review is taken from History of…Football Management Games – Part 1, available here.

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