New Star Soccer is brilliant and was a brilliant success for Simon Read at long last (his full story coming soon).
But he's not stopping there. New Star Soccer will be updated in the coming months to version 1.5, welcoming features like headers, attacking and defending styles, extra save slots and female players. And there's more to announce as the patch gets closer to release.
But what I want to talk about are Simon Read's ideas for a New New Star Soccer - a New Star Soccer 2 or New Star Soccer 6, if you count the PC versions. "I guess I'd have to go for New Star Soccer 2014 or something like that," reckoned Simon Read, speaking to me in Bicester, near Oxford, tother day.
Football games on handhelds can usually be divided into two camps: those that offer a cut-down version of a PC or home console game, and those that fixate on a single element, like shooting, and try to make a high-score game out of it. There are some fine examples of both on iOS and Android already, but New Star Soccer is something else: it's a football career built from the ground up for mobiles and tablets, a mixture of Flick Kicks and Football Managers that may even represent a greater threat to your free time than its inspirations.
There's a free Arcade mode where you just flick the ball into the goal in increasingly difficult scenarios - you pull back from the ball with your finger to measure power, then another screen pops up with the ball bouncing or rolling across it and you have to tap to indicate where you want to strike it. But the Career mode - free for your first 10 matches on iOS - is where you'll spend the bulk of your time, gradually levelling up your skills, dividing your focus between training, gadgets, girls and gambling, and making a name for yourself.
Initially you're signed up for a non-league team in a country of your choosing and paid very little for your services. Using canny judgement and a bit of experimentation, you quickly learn how to make more money out of football: investing your earnings in energy drinks that allow you to take part in more mini-games to upgrade your skills between matches, and then taking advantage of your increasing proficiency to make your mark on the pitch and earn performance bonuses and catch the eye of sponsors and bigger teams.