The Average Gamer

Struggling with New Star Soccer

New Star Soccer - Goal
So that New Star Soccer game is a bit good. I downloaded it for a lark on Saturday because it’s free(ish) on Android now and accidentally spent five hours playing obsessively. Yup, two new consoles in the house and I spent the entire weekend staring at my phone.

iPhone gamers may already be familiar with the game as it’s been out on iOS since March 2012. It’s also been available on Android for a while but went free-to-play in mid-November.

New Star Soccer is a football career sim. You start out as a lowly footballer and have to develop your skills through training, as well as manage relationships with your boss, team, significant other (if you’re materialistic enough to attract one) and any sponsors that are supplementing your lowly wage.

Your work relationships are best managed through playing good football. Similar to Championship Manager, each match is a scrolling list of match highlights. Once you get near the ball, it’s your job to pass, shoot or intercept. Aim your shot, time and hit the ball to add spin and do it fast enough to avoid the opposition closing in.

Putting in lots of effort will make the boss happy but drains you of more energy per match. (Yes, it’s a mobile game so of course everything revolves around energy.) Playing well and passing to your teammates makes them happy and nothing short of winning matches will keep the fans placated.

Spend enough of your earnings on pointless lifestyle items like a jet-ski or a nice house and you’ll eventually attract a boyfriend or girlfriend. You’ll need this as not having one keeps you very unhappy and less likely to succeed.

If you’re not so good at the football part, you’re going to struggle but there’s a practice mode included that won’t affect your career. There’s also a Memory card-flipping minigame that can help your relationships, but that will drain a significant portion of your energy. So does training your skills. So does hanging out with your teammates. In fact, you’re probably the feeblest footballer in the known universe, since the simple act of going shopping with friends will drain you so much that you won’t be able to play for a week. If that happens, you can either annoy your boss by starting as a substitute and therefore only playing half the match, or boost yourself by spending in-game Star Bucks on NRG drinks.

New Star Soccer - FootballThe only long-term way to make your energy last longer is by hiring a trainer, who improves your post-match recovery. You’ll need to buy the in-app pro licence for 68p to unlock the feature. This allows you to hire a cheap trainer for 50 matches using Star Bucks or a better trainer for 150 matches by spending more real cash. The same goes for the agent, who negotiates transfer fees and bonuses to your normal income.

With the free-to-play update, New Star Games did tweak the game to make it more challenging for the hardcore players. However, in doing so they’ve made it quite dispiriting to new players.

Every time I level up, the cost for NRG drinks also goes up. Every time I’ve just about saved enough money to buy a good pair of boots or a lifestyle upgrade, either my trainer or my agent reaches the end of their contract and I spend all my cash hiring another. You can try to negotiate for more income whenever you level up or transfer teams but it still feels like a slog.

The core of New Star Soccer is very good. There are plenty of relationships to try and balance and lots of football to attempt. I’m better on the pitch, thanks to some useful tips from friends, but that’s not enough to compensate for lack of cash. Lifestyle items degrade and need to be repaired and the occasional random event will happen that’s guaranteed to destroy at least one of your relationships. Put is all together and the whole thing feels like it’s designed to make me spend money.

It’s apparently not. They’ve said to me over Twitter that “We are hoping to further address the cash/energy balance with another update soon. Still a bit tricky for most players”. I’d agree. It’s been fun for a while but I won’t last much longer.


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