A funny thing happened on the way to Pocket Gamer headquarters today. Something previously unwitnessed by humanity, a freak occurrence that will go down in the annals of history.
I played a football management game. And, I'm somewhat surprised to say, I actually enjoyed it.
I feel I should qualify that statement. I am a fan of football – the American variety. Unless there are pads, helmets and veritable man-mountains involved, I've no interest whatsoever. Soccer, as I call it to wind up the more avid footie fans around the office, usually leaves me stone cold.
But with this Super-World-Cup-Bowl thing coming up and threatening to ruin this summer's televisual enjoyment, you've got to be flexible. "When in the Rhineland…", and all that.
So when Manager Pro World Championship Edition 2006 (surely a contender for longest game name this summer) arrived, I perhaps wasn't the ideal candidate to review it. I certainly wasn't the most enthusiastic.
The thing with Manager Pro WCE 2006 is that it's so incredibly easy to get into and play that it actually turned out to be a very entertaining experience. So much so that it was quite traumatic when my England squad was knocked out by Germany in the quarter-finals the first time I played.
You can go from starting a new campaign with your chosen team (any one of the 32 taking part) through choosing your strategy to watching the game unfold in front of you, as if you're watching it on TV, in a matter of minutes. It's quite possible to play through the group stages in ten engaging minutes.
I'd previously thought that football management games were the preserve of impenetrable reams of statistics, formations that sounded more like bus numbers, and the kind of tactical decisions that would result in a hairline like Sven's – that you had to revel in the kind of details that anyone but Arsene Wenger would find off-putting.
And that level of detail does exist in other management games. The mobile versions of LMA Manager and Championship Manager are a footie anorak's wet dream, second only to England lifting the Cup for real this summer.
In contrast, Manager Pro WCE 2006 is football management lite.
While this will turn off the purist, it does mean it's a far more attractive proposition for the fair-weather football fan. The same statistics, formations, strategies, team selections and training sessions find a place in the Manager Pro line-up as in its rivals, it's just they're simpler versions of those found elsewhere.
And to me at least, it's a better game for it. It does limit the game's longevity – I don't anticipate playing Manager Pro beyond the World Cup itself and can't imagine that anyone else would, either. It's far too shallow for that, encompassing only the World Cup and nothing before or beyond it.
Anyone passionately into football who wants a management game with more meat would be well-advised to look elsewhere. The lack of any official licence – there's no mention of FIFA, the World Cup or official player names (you'll be picking an England squad from the likes of Newile, Gerrad, Ohven and Roon) – will also keep the true fan on the sidelines.
But those who fancy getting caught up and carried along in the white and red tide sweeping the nation, if only for the next few weeks, will find a gentle wave to ride in Manager Pro World Championship Edition 2006.