Sports Game of the Year 2012 Runner-up: New Star Soccer

NSS is magic.

Stars are made, not born.

The runner-up for Sports Game of the Year is New Star Soccer.

So many hours were lost this year to New Star Soccer that I suspect that blame for the double-dip recession can be laid at its feet. NSS became a breakout hit without ever getting featured on the App Store or getting reviewed on TouchArcade – it was a pure word of mouth hit, cracking the top 100 apps in the UK. Friends of mine who are casually into iPhone games would tell me about NSS conspiratorially – like they were letting me in on a secret.

The magic of NSS is two-fold: it’s a role-playing game about becoming a football superstar – appealing enough on its own – but it also features the most satisfying touch interface of any sports game. Borrowing from touchscreen artillery games like Angry Birds, the game took the most fundamental element of soccer – kicking the ball – and made it a compulsively fun physics-based mini-game.

That stroke of genius was then dressed up in a charming career simulator where you could negotiate transfers to other clubs, earn your way onto your country’s national squad, and mis-spend your hard-earned wages at the pony track. It’s an intoxicating combination, one that grabs hold of you like few other games on any platform.

New Star Soccer isn’t a flash in the pan, either – it’s the apex of a long career of making soccer sims. Creator Simon Read is one of indie game development’s originals – he has been at this for over a decade now, and the NSS on your Android or iPhone is the culmination of years of experience. It makes you hopeful for whatever he’s cooking up next.

For all the games recognized in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2012 Awards, visit the awards index page.