The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 13
I am not an MMA fan. In fact, the thought of watching two men (or women) beat on each other until one is potentially unconscious holds no appeal to me whatsoever.
I don't even like Boxing, if that tells you anything.
So why do I love this mobile game by BitByBit Games, MMA Manager, so much?
Thankfully, it's not an action game. You're not in the ring yourself, tapping buttons and trying to beat the other guy up before your ass gets kicked.
No, as the name implies (Empty Chair: "implies?"), you are the manager of a gym full of MMA fighters. These fighters have nicknames such as "Bruiser," "Hands of Stone" (great in MMA, not so great in hockey), or "Facecrusher." You can even edit the nickname to be whatever you want it to be when you hire a fighter (though the game will crash if you name a fighter "Taylor Swift" or something like that...or at least it should if all were right with the world.)
Nobody makes fun of Cutlass' purple hair...more than once
You're in charge of the gym, so you get to make all the decisions, and you get to watch as your money dwindles down to zero if you hire a bunch of candyasses as fighters, not able to win a fight to save their lives.
Or you get to watch the purses get bigger and bigger as your fighters move up the ranks in their current fight league.
You hire your fighters, you negotiate the cut of their winnings that you will get (as they gain experience and rank, they will start getting disgruntled if you refuse to lower your cut), you hire trainers, get sponsors for your fighters (and your gym!), and book fights that are offered to you for each fighter.
Each month, you're given a run-down of your gyms finances. The red amount in the pic above is the monthly cost that you have, for your gym, coaches, cross-training, etc. But you could also be spending money in a month on travel costs for your fights and a number of different things. Your income is your cut of the purses as well as the sponsorship deal you've set up for your gym.
There may be many a month, especially at the beginning, where you will lose money. Go below $0 and you can take a loan, but if you're at -$100,000 at the end of December, you lose!
This is a very text-heavy game. There are no "action" graphics at all. Fights are relayed to you by the ring announcer, but you get to watch the description as the action unfolds. You find yourself sometimes holding your breath as one of your fighters who is totally outclassed is somehow able to hold his own, and then suddenly his opponent walks into an uppercut and you win by a knockout!
"The Shredder" gets shredded!
I have found this game quite addicting, to the point where I will play the hell out of it for a day or two and then have to put it away for a while because I know I will keep at it if I don't. I then find myself away from it for a month or two. I decide to fire it back up, and soon the cycle continues. It has that "just one more fight" quality that you want to see.
It's very fun to see all of your fighters move up levels, improve their skills, then get in the ring and kick butt. It makes it heart-wrenching when he decides to retire and you have to start with a brand new fighter. I got really attached to some of them (though one guy kept losing, so I had to cut him loose).
There is always the possibility of a dilemma popping up at the beginning of a month. Maybe one of your fighters has been taking some PEDs and you have to decide whether to cancel the fight. Or it may be as simple as a guy wanting to take a couple of days off to spend with his family. Do you do it, adding to his happiness but affecting his skill increase? Or are you a hard-nose, gotta keep working kind of manager who doesn't care about happiness? Or maybe the dilemma is that the fighter is going to retire?
You don't want to stick around for the title bout? You wuss.
As fighters complete their current contract with a league, they may get the chance to move to a tougher (and more lucrative) league, or you can decide to stay in the current one. There are a bunch of different ones to choose from. I'm assuming that they are all fake leagues, considering the cost of the rights to use their names would probably be pretty high and this is a small mobile app company, but I could be wrong.
The last update added female fighters and classes, which is a welcome addition. Unfortunately, changing one of the weight classes that you use means that you will lose some current fighters, and as you can see, I'm in 2033. I didn't want to lose anybody, so I haven't tried it with the female fight leagues. It is a great addition though.
There are a few faults with MMA Manager that I would like to see rectified in future updates, but they are pretty minor.
As you can see from the screenshots above, the faces for the male fighters are all the same. Change the hair colour, add a beard, add some hair, make it a mohawk, and voila! You have a different fighter. It's like a Clark Kent thing.
Also, when changing leagues, it would be nice to be able to see how many fighters you currently have in each league so you can spread it around a little bit. Some fighters have personal goals to be the champion of a certain league, but if you don't remember which one it was, that's too bad. You can't access the fighter's bio from the league-choosing screen.
BitByBit Games is very responsive on the Pocket Tactics forums, which is also great to see. It seems like the small companies are the ones that really do their best to interact with their customers. In fact, it was that forum that introduced me to this game.
And now I'm in love.
I'm the perfect example to show you that you don't have to like MMA to really enjoy this game. I think it's the managerial aspect that really grabs me and won't let me go.
Give it a shot and see what you think. There's currently a free ad-supported version that you can try out if you want. Same functionality, but with ads. If you like the game, definitely give them some of your money.
The game is well worth it.
MMA Manager is available on iOS and Android
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