How does being the manager of a group of testosterone fuelled machismos sound? If the thought of that intrigues you then maybe MMA manager from Bit by Bit Games for iOS or Android is for you.
As the name fairly aptly implies you take control of a small local fight gym and try and expand it into a place to rival the likes of American Kickboxing Academy or Greg Jackson’s gym in New Mexico.
You’ll be thrown in at the deep end straight away with only minimal prompts to guide you so it is a relief that the game if fairly intuitive. Everything from your fighters and coaches, to your gym facilities, your reputation and booked fights can be accessed from the main menu and clicking on any of the available options will bring up a range of sub-options with which you can micro manage every aspect of your gym.
Even so the game can seem a bit overwhelming at first and you will stumble through your first couple of (in game) years. You’ll probably find you lose more money than you make to begin with even if your fighters are winning.
Eventually though, by hiring decent coaches to train your fighters you will be invited to new tier organisations that pay higher. This will in turn lead to better sponsorship deals and thus generate more revenue for you and your fighters. It is a rewarding system that keeps you coming back for more.
When the action actually hits the cage though it isn’t all just sitting back a watching with your fingers crossed. Before the fight begins you can see a simple talk of the tape which directly compares your fighter with their opponent. Using this information you can select whether you want you fighter to stay standing, look to take the fight to the ground or ‘go with the flow’. You can also set the intensity with which they fight. A high intensity style may finish the fight earlier, but will cause the fighter to fatigue faster if they dint get the finish, making him vulnerable in the later rounds. Alternatively you can adopt a low intensity style and try to out last your opponent.
When the action gets underway you get text updates alerting you how the action is going and it helps to pay attentions as not only can you adapt your style mid-fight if things aren’t going well, you will also get occasional quick time events where you can directly decide how your fighter reacts. An example of this would be if you opponent shoots for a takedown you may get a choice of keeping the fight standing, trying to reverse the position or allow your opponent to complete it, in the hope of securing a submission from the bottom. This all keeps you involved and means you aren’t just ignoring what happens in the ring.
There are two difficulty modes if you find the going tough. Reality show gives your fighters the edge in most contests whereas pay per view means your fighters will win a lot fewer fights where their stats aren’t up to scratch so picking the right fights for your guys takes on much more importance. Unfortunately being a mobile game means there are the almost unavoidable pitfall of microtransactions in the game. As I mentioned earlier you tend to lose money quite quickly quite early on and a sceptic might suggest that this is done intentionally to encourage you to part with your real cash. Thankfully though the in-app purchases are fairly hands off and in all my playing time I never got a single message ‘encouraging’ me to get my debit card out.
My only suggestions for future updates or sequels would be to add in female fighters seeing as arguably the current biggest star in MMA is Ronda Rousey and also to add a bit more detail into the in-fight descriptions. The presentation is also very minimalist, but I appreciate this is likely a limitation of the hardware the game is releasing for and the fact that it is being developed by a talented, but small, studio.
Other than those minor niggles though, MMA Manager is a great management sim to pass time or any train journey or whenever you get a spare moment. It is deep enough to allow you to feel like you are running things without ever being too overwhelming and will keep you entertained for many an hour. A must for any MMA fan.
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Michael is a Harrogate based, predominantly console gamer on both Playstation 4 and Xbox One that has been writing for Zero1Gaming since 2012. Purveyor and lover of all things indie, when he is not playing the latest downloadable titles you will usually find him immersed in a myriad of other genres from RPG’s to FPS’s and other three letter abbreviations. Feel free to add him Xbox at Dowgle or Playstation at Juxta-Dowgle or search Michael Dalgleish on Facebook or LinkedIn.