Drop everything and download: New Star Soccer Manager

UPDATE: now available on Android too! Will New Star Soccer Manager sap your social life like its dangerously addictive predecessor did?

Some of football’s best players have gone on to have equally glittering management careers: Zinedine Zidane, Pep Guardiola and the late Johan Cruyff to name just three. Well now you can add New Star Soccer to the list.

Having taken smartphones by storm in 2012, the team behind one of the most addictive footy games ever made has finally released a follow-up: New Star Soccer Manager.

Building on the simple yet compelling foundations laid by NSS, it’s a football management sim for phones that’s more light-hearted than Football Manager Mobile. But will adding this extra layer mean it loses its unfussy charm? We played a pre-release version to find out.

Download New Star Soccer Manager for iOS from the App Store here.

What’s the deal?

Rather than guiding a single player to glory, New Star Soccer Manager puts you in charge of an entire club. The clue’s kind of in the name.

That team’s name is New Star FC (irrespective of which country you choose to compete in) and you begin at the very bottom of the footballing pyramid. It’s your job to work your way up, improving existing players, signing new ones and generally growing the club on and off the pitch.

It’s reminiscent of those classic old-skool management sims such as Ultimate Soccer Manager, although with players sniping at each other via social media instead of the ability to offer bungs to opposition bosses.

How does it play?

Unlike the original mobile New Star Soccer, NSS Manager is played in landscape, although the matches will still feel familiar.

As the boss you’ll get control over substitutions, formations and tactics, but it also means you don’t have to wait for a specific player to get the ball before you get a chance to show what you can do. As soon as someone on your team is in possession, it’ll be down to you to try and score.

What else is new?

You now get more freedom with what you do with the ball. Tapping a teammate passes it directly to them, or you can draw paths to initiate runs and pass into space for them instead.

The dribbling mechanic has also been revamped, so if you drag back from the player in possession as if you’re going to shoot but hold your finger in place rather than letting go, the player will embark on a run. Stop dribbling and you can then pass the ball, allowing you to build more sophisticated attacking moves than the isolated pass and shot actions in New Star Soccer.

The move towards the collective rather than individual also means the off-pitch stuff you need to look after isn’t about buying cars and keeping your fictional girlfriend happy, but looking after backroom staff, shirt sponsors, training ground facilities and the like.

Any downsides?

New Star Soccer Manager is free to play, which means it carries adverts, although they haven’t been implemented in the version we’ve been playing so it’s impossible to say how intrusive they’ll be.

Like New Star Soccer, one of the game’s main challenges is keeping your squad’s energy levels up, which involves judicious squad rotation and feeding your players NRG drinks. You’ll earn these through playing the game but there’s always the option to spend real money on them too.

So far we’ve been able to play without feeling pushed towards forking out, but it’s a balance that’ll be crucial to maintaining long-term interest in the game and preventing players from feeling like cash cows.

Where can I get it?

New Star Soccer Manager is out now on iOS and on Android here. You’ll be missing your bus stop and sneaking in games under the dinner table again in no time.