If there is one thing that sums up my university life - apart from alcohol, foam parties, daytime TV, waking around noon, an incredibly long romance and a number of things I couldnâ€™t possibly mention here â€“ it is Championship Manager 2. The original Championship Manager had drawn me in three years earlier (when it was then released by Domark) in 1992 but I had no idea what was waiting for me with the heavily revamped sequel.
Again designed by the dynamic duo of Paul and Oliver Collyer â€“ Everton fans incidentally, and you can often find them as hysterically bad free agent players in the game â€“ it revolutionised the series and laid foundations which can still be seen today.
Graphically it was a major step forward, which is a strange thing to say for a text based game, since the move to SVGA greatly enlarged the viewing area and enabled the menu system to be completely overhauled. The number of playable leagues was increased, with two alternative versions also available: one offering the choice of either Belgian, Dutch and Spanish competition (Belgian?!), the other French, German or Italian. Naturally being a student with limited leisure time I bought both.
Yet it was the Premier League where my heart lay and I can still remember to this day monopolising the Autumn semester to haul Stafford up from non-league oblivion to Championâ€™s League success. At first my flat mates hated it, then became equally addicted to it. My girlfriend at the time initially didnâ€™t mind it, then served me mouldy bread to teach me how distracted I had become. I only learned of this two days laterâ€¦ she had a point.
Ultimately, like all the games on my list, CM2 was a time killer. Days, weekends and even weeks could be lost in its detailed virtual world. Yet also like all the games on my list it has suffered from nigh on endless expansion packs and sequels. The crisis from me came following The Collyerâ€™s run in with Eidos which saw the beleaguered publisher keep rights to the name but loose out on the code. Paul and Oliver wandered over to Sega and Football Manager was born.
I ported to FM immediately but something just hasnâ€™t been quite right. As I suggested in my FM2006 review it now feels too feature packed and too bloated to just pick up and play though equally it could be that perhaps I simply no longer have the time. Championship Manager 2 was the beginning of a high water mark that broke with Season 03-04 and I doubt whether another football management sim will ever make the same splash it did.