Game developers have been rushing to get some of their titles onto the Nintendo Switch, and Sports Interactive is no different with its season too late release of Football Manager Touch 2018 onto the platform. Sometimes they hit the back of the net, other times it’s a cool reminder of Bobby Zamora. Football Manager Touch 2018 falls somewhere in the center circle, a gifted reminder of Matt Le Tissier, all the talent without the desire.
The Football Manager series has become much more complex over the years, with complicated training schedules that can be time-consuming to perfect, to managing minute details to every tactic on the pitch. The Switch version does a slight step back which is actually a welcome change. The route one approach has delivered a much more accessible game to an audience that perhaps aren’t accustomed to the series; Nintendo has rarely ventured into the Football Manager series so its fanbase requires game time to say the least. While the slimming down of content might have been more to do with the system than the fanbase, it’s a two-goal lead in that respect, scoring at both ends of the pitch.
Matchday graphics are charming in the sense they manage to convey the frustration of a real football game. Managing a lower league team personified this grievance as their players’ low statistics produced the performances of a foosball table. Watching Nicke Kabamba for Aldershot Town continually miss from five yards out became a serious selection crisis, with Matt McClure saving a season that could have become as barren as a Sam Allardyce campaign. Needless to say, there’s a lot of enjoyment building a team on zero budget and is perhaps the best way to approach Football Manager Touch 2018.
What’s left is a reliance on the talent of Salah, diminished by the control of Karius.
With a plethora of content still remaining in the streamlined version, the problems that arise are never from the gameplay itself but from the execution of porting it to the Nintendo Switch. Rather than using a mouse to move the cursor, the gamepad is used. This has notable problems, particularly with the sensitivity being a touch too low resulting in a slow-performing experience. Because Football Manager Touch 2018 hasn’t been fully utilized for the Switch controller, it’s incredibly awkward to use and takes a while to adapt to.
The lack of thought towards the port is furtherly noticeable with the screen itself. There are small corners of the game missing at both ends of the screen. While nothing important is missed, it shows a lack of care when porting the game from system to system. When playing in handheld mode, a lot of the game becomes too cramped, as the game feels built for the bigger screen, neglecting one of the best features of the Switch – portability. The concept of playing a Football Manager game on the go was part of Football Manager Touch 2018’s greatest appeals, however, they have failed to deliver its implementation to a satisfactory level.
It’s a great shame that the usability of the game has been neglected. What’s left is a reliance on the talent of Salah, diminished by the control of Karius. A team built around the strength of one player and left unbalanced with the incompetence of others. However, if the player can adapt to the poor controls, there’s a fantastic game to be played. There remains the ability to run a football club to refined detail, allowing the player to take control of all the important elements. Building a team is an incredibly integral and intricate part of any Football Manager experience, and there’s a great depth to the scouting network and reserve team to produce a team several years in advance (obviously much more difficult when managing a lower league team).
Football Manager Touch 2018 suggests Jose Mourinho is better suited for the Vanarama rather than the EPL.
Training is much more simplified and convenient compared to previous titles. Without the complexity of designing a training schedule, it leaves more game time to build a team. Footballers still complain when they believe the training isn’t ideal for them, with the diva complex a characteristic even in the lower leagues. A drop-down menu of intensity and training focus is all the player needs to do to get the training schedule going. Personally, training was always a little tedious to perfect in previous titles so a simplified version was welcomed. This doesn’t lessen the importance of training as it is still a vital component of your team’s performances, as well as one aspect of individual players reaching their full potential.
Tactically, Football Manager Touch 2018 is much easier to follow than previous titles, there are even occasional prompts to help ensure the tactics don’t conflict – asking your players to use short passes while opting for a target man upfront for example. Some tactics would be disastrous to use in the lower leagues, notably allowing your players some fluidity in their formation. There’s enough tactical nuance to ensure the manager must set-up teams differently depending on the level of football they are currently managing. Allowing any Aldershot Town player a right to roam freely would have been disastrous; Football Manager Touch 2018 suggests Jose Mourinho is better suited for the Vanarama rather than the EPL. Become Guardiola when the big teams come calling.
However, such dreams are dependent on the player’s tolerance of the controls. If given the time, the controls can become benign and the game can be thoroughly enjoyed. For a first attempt at porting over a Football Manager game to the Nintendo Switch, it’s relatively successful, just careless with the implications of how the controls and screen were going to function together.