Eidos announced last week that Championship Manager is heading to PSP with developer Gusto Games handling the football management sim's transition to Sony's handheld. We recently caught up with Gusto's managing director Simon Phillips to find out more about what's in store.
Could you introduce yourself and tell us about your role on Champ Manager on PSP?
Simon Phillips: Sure, I'm Simon Phillips, managing director of Gusto Games - the developer of Championship Manager on console formats. I've actually got quite a jammy job whereby I get to poke my nose in on the design meetings, bark orders at the team, play the game all day and take the credit for it! Seriously though, I am involved at all levels - design, graphics, gameplay flow, right down to where the logos appear on the box.
Is the PSP version of Championship Manager as comprehensive as the 'bigger' versions of the game? Are there any sacrifices you've had to make?
Simon Phillips: Nope, don't think for one minute that this is a watered down version of Champ Man in the slightest, this is the real deal. In fact there are a number of things we have added and plenty that improve the game to make this genuinely the next in the series for CM.
How about the depth of training and tactics - what can you tell us here?
Simon Phillips: Previously, Champ Man on consoles was praised for its training systems. We've stuck with the basic formula and tightened up the processes so that there is more feedback to the user - the same pretty much goes for tactics. All of the complexity is there from before, but issues have been ironed out and the whole thing tightened up - expect better responses to tactics from the guys on the field!
What new features are you adding for the PSP version?
Simon Phillips: The traditional game has had loads of tweaks and extras: live cup draws, increased media interaction, downloadable stats, customisable content to name only a few... I wont spoil all of the surprises though! We've also thought a lot about the kind of person that's going to own a PSP and the places that they are going to want to get a "fix" of CM, so we've added in a "Quick Mode" where you only get three seasons at the helm. Great for a semi-session and excellent for getting those manager points to brag to your mates with! Better still, we've implemented a "Challenge Mode" where you take control of a scenario with a set goal, some easier, some harder - win a continental cup with Spurs?! - some seemingly impossible!!
Ah, we were going to ask how you're catering for the more 'pick up and play' aspect of the PSP...?
Simon Phillips: PSP games definitely need it don't they? We've added in the all new "Challenge Mode" - essentially you are, as a manager, dropped into a number of different scenarios, if you like, such as "Win Promotion" or "Win a Continental Cup" then you're given a number of teams to complete the scenario with. It gives the player a real risk/reward style of gameplay that is perfect for "pick up and play". Further to this we've got the three season, quick blast, do-or-die, mode. It's as simple as it sounds; play CM for three seasons - it's really rather exciting!
The strength, size and accuracy of the player database is of course a vital part of the Champ Manager experience. What can we expect from the PSP version in this area?
Simon Phillips: As I mentioned earlier, expect Championship Manager, no less. We've actually taken the already huge database from CM5 on console and managed to rework the compression and packing code to expand it even further! CM PSP rolls out with well over 25,000 players, 55 playable leagues from 12 playable nations (there are a further four playable nations through the challenge mode).