The first thing you notice when you load up Cocoro Line Defender is just how appealing it is.

Set in a fantastical take on ancient Japan, the game's opening narration pleasantly washes over you, relaying some hokum tale involving a war between the elements.

Elements which, in keeping with the bright cartoon look, are realised as armies of cute, fuzzy little characters with sticks for limbs.

This sets up a tower defence game, of sorts, with four elemental armies squaring up for a big ol' scrap.

It has all the trappings of the genre, from multiple unit types to upgradeable weapons, and that feeling of helplessness as your base is reduced to rubble.

Heart of the battle

But these are proper battles, not just defence missions. These are head-on 2D clashes between two sides unerringly marching towards one another in a race to destroy the other's base.

Your unit hub sits on the bottom screen, while the action is presented on the top. This allows for a cool mechanic - indeed, probably the most satisfying aspect of the game - in which you use your stylus to fling newly-created troops up to the top screen.

It sounds gimmicky, but it does serve a tactical purpose. The speed and trajectory of your flick actually affects where each unit lands on the battlefield.

This means that you can plan things out a little more. Maybe you'll want to get fast-moving melee units up front as soon as possible while bolstering your own camp with ranged attackers.

Best laid plans...

However, despite some good intentions, these kinds of tactical moves aren't always as effective in action.

Just like in real life, the best idea is to attack the home of your enemies before they descend on yours.

This means that your best bet is to just lob loads of troops towards the enemy camp before they have time to mount an assault of their own.

'It has no strategy' is a criticism often unfairly levelled at tower defence games. However, in this instance, it's reasonably justified.

And it's a shame, because it's clear that the developers have tried to avoid shallow gameplay at every turn.

The aforementioned throwing mechanic is a neat addition, while the ability to equip any unit type with any weapon allows for a number of unique combinations.

On paper, it looks like Moving Player got most things right.

But most of the time, it just doesn't work as smoothly as it should. Enemies are overcome by angry persistence more often than precise and well-worked tactics.

At £3.59, Cocoro Line Defender is one of the cheaper offerings on the 3DS eShop, which makes some of its issues slightly more forgiveable.

However, when excellent games like Gunman Clive and EDGE are nearly 50 percent cheaper, there's really no reason to spend your eShop credit on this.