Football Manager Handheld review

A stripped down Football Manager nods it into the onion bag on PSP. Funny old game...

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After settling into your team's dugout you'll initially be disappointed at the lack of intricate options. Most frustrating of the lot is the fact that you can't dabble with your team's formation. You're forced to choose one of 17 and unlike Championship Manager PSP you can't draw on directional arrows for passes or runs. You can still give a player instructions like run right/left/centre, mind, but you can't even move your players around the pitch to customise your formations.

However, the developer has trimmed things for good reason - the match engine. Here's a fundamentally sound piece of software that mimics real football in its purest form. Apart from watching aghast as Alex Ferguson took the reigns of lowly Doncaster, everything else feels true and observed.

Above: Inter's defenders seem to be letting the side down here. The win is within your grasp

So don't worry about absurd transfer action, like Quinton Fortune being incessantly romanced by the likes of Chelsea and AC Milan - he's rather more likely to be shipped out on loan to Wolves, just like in real life. While we're on the subject, however, you can't recall players from loan so be careful who you farm out.

And so long as you don't go all Souness and put out the same useless side every week, you won't be getting randomly drummed by lower quality teams every match.

With so much emphasis on bread and butter management, FM Handheld should wind up being lacklustre. But it isn't. The magic distilled in its core delivers an accurate and entertaining football experience thanks to its extensive database of players, clubs and competitions.

Even without a 2D pitch of Smartie-esque players, FM Handheld stokes your imagination and you end up creating your own stories (Saha owes his career to us - we fantasize about giving him a big hug, the amount of winning goals he's scored) although Rooney whinging about being dropped for a single game almost shatters that illusion.

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DescriptionOn all formats, it's one of the worst. On PSP it's one of the best. Funny old game
US censor rating""
UK censor rating"3+"
Nathan Irvine
Hi, I’m Nathan. You may remember me from such websites as, erm, this one circa 2011. Been hustling in games for over a decade and write for Official PlayStation, Official Xbox, Gamesmaster and more.