|Developer(s)||Dino Dini, Anco|
Player Manager was a football management game, released in 1990. It was notable for being the first game to combine both managing the team and playing as a single player. The match engine borrowed heavily from the Kick Off match engine, which was developed by Dino Dini and Anco, who also created Player Manager. This was the first in a series of games called Player Manager.
Players would take control of a third division side as player-manager, acting in both managing and playing aspects. The latter option was optional, since players could choose whether to control the player only or the entire team from the outset. They can opt to do neither, if they choose not to play the matches personally.
The Player Manager universe is structured somewhat differently from real-life football of the same period. Many notable clubs are not featured in the game, as the programmers chose to have 10 teams in the top two divisions, and 12 in the third and fourth divisions, presumably due to memory constraints. There is also only one domestic cup competition. And, as with the majority of the football games of the time, the game is notable now for featuring no European football, due to English clubs exclusion from European competition owing to the Heysel Stadium disaster.
Further reference to recent problems in real-life football come courtesy of news items that make reference to the Bradford City stadium fire, and the general problems experienced in relation to football hooliganism at the time, particularly the aforementioned Heysel. This is the first of several eccentricities in the game; if the team operated by the player attempts to hoard money, they will experience consistent fires and fines due to hooliganism, as a mechanism to keep their bank balance down.
Further bugs and eccentricities include the following:
1. At the end of a cup game, penalty shootouts take place involving the players numbered 7 - 11 in reverse order. If any of these players are voluntarily substituted during the game, a bug can occur in which no player will come forward to take the penalty attributed to the substituted player, meaning that the game has to be reset.
2. Sponsorship in the game is allocated in a completely random fashion, with no apparent relation to the success or otherwise of a team.
3. When a player requests a transfer, it is possible to avoid this by granting him one, which will increase his morale, setting the transfer fee at such a high level that no-one bids, and then offering him a new contract the next week. As the player’s morale has increased, he will always accept the contract offer, and you can then take him off the transfer list.
4. The game fails to generate sufficient new players as the Player Manager universe develops, which results in many teams in the top division having to field generic reserve players frequently after a few seasons.
5. There is a bug in the game that relates to these generic reserves, whereby when a corner is being taken, due to the very slow running speed of these players, they are not in their designated position before the kick-taker is ready to take the corner. When this occurs, the kick-taker refuses to take the corner, and the rest of the half is completely uneventful.
6. A bug quite frequently occurs in which the ball becomes stuck apparently between the post and crossbar in a physically impossible fashion, while the sound effect for the ball striking the post or bar is played repeatedly. The ball from this position steadily drifts down the post, again in a physically impossible fashion, while players congregate around it. Eventually, it will reach a height at which it can be kicked, at which point it is either smashed into the net by the attacking team, or cleared high in the air by the defending team.
7. The original player manager (you) that is created reverts to his original pace, stamina and agility at 107 years old, as it is possible to keep him playing well beyond what is considered a feasible and safe playing age. His skills, such as shooting, tackling etc. remain at their improved ratings (usually 190+). In effect, if you play for 79 seasons the result is the best possible player within the game. (It is unknown whether this applies again at 214 years old).
Notably, you could save your team and transfer it over to Kick Off 2, to play as the team, although as the game mechanics of Kick Off 2 were not designed in the same way as Player Manager, if you allowed the computer to control two Player Manager teams, very low-scoring games would inevitably result.
- ST Action - A stroke of pure genius.
- The One - An exceptional football management sim. Astounding depth, most involved, rewarding and playable.
- ACE - Successfully blends challenging soccer management with frantic end to end arcade action. 920
- New Comp Express - The sheer depth is incredible. A definitive management game.
- Commodore User - At last a management game that requires true management skills - a winner 94%
- ST Format - Brilliant. 93%
- Amiga Format - Enthralling and addictive. 93%
- ZZAP - Best football management game ever written. 92%
- Abundant Software[dead link] - Game Developer Dino Dini's current development company
- Player Manager at MobyGames
- KOA Kick Off Gathering - KOA (Kick Off Association) Official International Kick Off Fan Site (organising Kick Off World Cup tournaments since 2001)
- Player Manager 2 download
- Review of Player Manager
- Player Manager Reloaded remake of the game by Badger Soft