I’ve been spending a lot of time recently playing a beta test version of Kevin Toms’ new game Kevin Toms’ Football for iOS devices.
Those of us old enough to remember will know that Kevin pretty much invented the football management sim with the original Football Manager game back in the 1980s. In that game, the challenge was to take your team from the depths of the old 4th Division to the heights of Division One (yes kids, football did exist before the Premier League).
I remember the game well. At a time when most games involved shooting or jumping, Football Manager offered something different, more thoughtful. Sim or management games have never really been my favourites, but Football Manager had me hooked. I can recall spending hours hunched over my Commodore 64 with a friend arguing over whether we should buy a particular player (and if so, for how much) or watching the primitive match graphics, hoping we could get that goal that would see us win the game. We played it so much that we started to suss out the AI (especially when it came to buying players) and using it to our advantage! It had great depth, but was also very accessible with an easy-to-use interface making it ideal for both die-hard football fans and more casual gamers. Until Kevin Toms’ Football came along, it was the only football management game I ever really played. Later entries in the genre undoubtedly upped the level of sophistication and depth, but they also became more complex, meaning more time had to be invested in learning the game mechanics, rather than playing the game and picking them up as you went along.
Fast forward 30 years to Kevin Toms’ Football and Kevin Toms has shown that he still understands what makes a good game. Kevin has been working on the game on and off for around 5 years now and his labours are really starting to bear fruit. Like its spiritual predecessor, Kevin Toms’ Football might not be much to look at, but boy is it addictive!
Toms has once more produced a game that is both simple to pick up, but deceptively deep. At first glance there doesn’t appear much you can do to alter the way your team plays, but a little bit of experimentation soon shows this to be a lie. It doesn’t have all the nerdy stats and figures that many football management sims have but you’ll soon find that just making a few minor changes can have a big effect on whether your team wins or loses.
Best of all, it’s got a deliberately retro feel. Presentation is very low key and sparse whilst the teams in the football league are those from the 1980 when the first game was released. I suspect when it’s released, it will divide opinion – old timers like me will welcome it back with open arms; younger people will take one look at it and dismiss it out of hand. All I can say is: that’s their loss.
I’ve played the beta test version to death and personally can’t wait until the game is finally released. A post on Kevin’s blog says that the game is currently with Apple for review before being released on the App Store, so with a bit of luck, the wait might not be much longer. [Update: it’s now available!]
It might not make Kevin Toms as much money as the original game, but I’ve no doubt it will bring the same amount of pleasure to gamers of a certain age.
Now go away and read something else. I’ve got a league title to win.