To quote FHM’s housemate, a man who completely botched his degree thanks to a hopeless, oppressive addiction to Football Manager, the arrival of a handheld version of the game is "very, very dangerous." And to quote another acquaintance, a man who flew all the way to Bangkok only to spend the first three days of his holiday camped in a hotel room, drinking gin and masterminding Torino’s promotion to Serie A with fellow backpacker Eugenio: “It’s fucking awesome news.”
Be warned: Sega’s iPhone version of the FM might not come with minutiae of settings and deep reservoirs of data that made its heavyweight older brother famous, but this is no canapé, people. It’s a lip-smacking mini-meal, capable of satisfying your hunger for the game without forcing you to sit hunched at a table, wallowing in crusty boxer shorts for days on end. Now you can do it on the tube, train and toilet, too. Wahey!
What’s good about it? Try 34 leagues, a brilliant player search function, an intuitive, non-jarring interface (you won’t get lost) with some beautifully innovative flourishes, tidy squad and tactics organisation and CPU-driven ‘colleagues’. The in-match screen remains mercifully traditional. When your first goal goes in, it’ll evoke all sorts of fond, spine-tingling adolescent memories (just not the ones best suited to dinner party anecdote). And a sideways swipe of the finger summons real-time possession details, player ratings and stat graphs. You won’t be able to stop stroking it.
What’s bad about it? We experienced some stalling at certain in-match moments. It’d cut to an attacking move, then our centre forward just took the ball to the corner flag and stood there like a melon. Odd, especially at 3-1 down. Oh, and when we wanted to change formations, the game wasn’t too smart at reassigning players to their best positions. Cue fiddly, unnecessary tinkering. We’ll hope these are fixable in an update.
Verdict: Think very carefully. And know this: to buy it would be wrong, and heavily obstruct your plans to ‘get your life back on track’ this year. Then just bloody well do it anyway.
Football Manager Handheld, £6.99, is availabe now at the iTunes store