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What we've been playing

A few of the games that have us hooked at the moment.

14th July, 2023

Hello! Welcome back to our regular feature where we write a little bit about some of the games we've found ourselves playing over the last few days. This time: sports, more sports, and sports.

If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We've Been Playing, here's our archive.

Nintendo Switch Sports, Switch

Nintendo Switch Sports trailer.Watch on YouTube

My daughter calls this game Wii Sports, and I can never remember the actual name. So Wii Sports it is, and it ate our whole weekend once again.

Whenever I play this, I'm drawn to the backgrounds, which do so much to sell the fiction of a perfect holiday destination. The coffee shops! The book cases! The bicycles hanging on the walls, the tiny cafes set up in shipping containers!

But what I'm noticing now that my daughter wants to play every weekend is how more-ish the whole thing is, and that's partly down to the quick-fire nature of the sports themselves. The sword one! Badders! A quick Tennis match! You can be done in five minutes tops most of the time. And because the games are so quick, you're likely to be drawn back in again. Just one more. Last one. Okay, a decider.

This is why the game eats so much of our time, I think. It promises to be short, over in a few minutes. And then hours later you realise the afternoon has gone. What a game.

Chris Donlan

Coffee Golf, iOS

I am an absolute sucker for games that become rituals. The daily Sudoku, the early Monday glance at the Guardian Cryptic (on Mondays it's generally a bit kinder to the less skilled). And now there's Coffee Golf on iOS, which popped up a few weeks back. I'm into this. It's great. It's a new ritual.

Coffee Golf gives you five holes of golf to play each day, all connected on a single landmass. It tracks the number of shots you take for each hole, and there are just three clubs to choose from - a driver, a wedge and a putter.

What quickly becomes obvious is that you can win the battle and lose the war. You might sink an easy hole, but what matters is how you link the holes together. If you get one hole in two shots but then take five shots getting to the next hole, that's not quite the victory it seemed to be.

I'm still learning the intricacies of this, as well as learning just how crucial the wedge is in getting you where you need to be. It's great for taking the ball over a plateau and then making sure it doesn't travel too far. A bit like, you know, a wedge.

And that's the other thing. Underneath the rituals stuff, this is just a lovely game of golf, with beautiful courses and clever, intuitive controls. If you have five minutes free each day, give it a try.

Chris Donlan

Football Manager, PC

Football Manager.Watch on YouTube

In a way I have always been playing Football Manager - or more accurately, I am always playing Football Manager. So for me what I've been playing is normally more of a question like: yeah, but what else? In this case not much. FM is my between-game, where I can log in and play for 10 minutes or 10 hours, depending on life circumstances and maybe mental state, but I'm always playing it because this is a game like the crossword or chess, where 99 percent of it is played in your head.

Right now it's January 2024, about 20 months into my reign as manager of Manchester United (I've done some small-town local club saves but "fix the big broken club you support" will always be my main objective, because the club I support is always broken). I have a dilemma: Luke Shaw has 6 months left on his contract, is approaching 29, and despite being one of the better Left Backs in the game, does have weirdly low Determination stat, which means this year he's also kind of a jerk. He wants to leave, is refusing to sign a new contract, and I am kind of fine with that. Alessandro Bastoni, the exceptional young Inter centre-back and ideal replacement - since I could move Lisandro Martinez to left back - has become available for a ridiculously low fee. The problem is, despite him wanting to join United most, a load of other clubs are interested too - because he is brilliant. And after a gigantic summer window fire sale I have no money left. So now I'm struck trying to flog fifth-choice centre back Victor Lindelöf and whichever good-but-not-great academy player I can dig up at short notice. And they're getting bought. And then they're... rejecting the contracts from the other, smaller teams that I've agreed to sell them to.

Basically, I am stuck, as I always am with this game. But just a few more weeks of playing it in my head and I'm sure I'll figure it out.

Chris Tapsell

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