Cartoon Network has plundered its stash of (admittedly great) franchises in CN Superstar Soccer, in an effort to add some value to a cut-down, fast-paced football game.
It's a tactic that will probably draw in a few extra players. Fans of Adventure Time, The Regular Show, Ben 10, and The Amazing World of Gumball are all catered for.
Those are some mighty franchises marshalled for your gaming pleasure. But all the franchises in the world won't matter a jot if the soccer game underneath doesn't deliver.Five-a-side fever
Squeezing a full footy pitch onto an iPhone screen is entirely impractical, so CN Superstar Soccer offers a five-a-side tournament.
Not only does this unclutter the field, but it gives you the opportunity to see those beloved characters up close.
Indeed, the whole game is trimmed back and quickly accessible, and there are streamlined controls that rarely leave you fumbling for virtual buttons.
That said, those buttons are on the small side, and your finger can stray from them very easily. That adds a thin layer of frustration that CN Superstar Soccer can't really afford.
You control the players with an on-screen analogue stick, which works as well as these things ever do. It's accompanied by 'pass' and 'shoot' buttons for when you're in control of the ball.
When the opposition has possession, these buttons change automatically to 'tackle' and 'switch player'.Penalty time
Everything runs very slickly too, considering the game is built in 3D and is rife with special effects. But despite that sparkle, it struggles to really engage you in the action.
Its real downfall is tackling. These fail almost universally, although the occasional interception does happen at random.
The characters move quickly, and the pitch is small, so losing possession generally means you aren't going to get the ball back unless the goalie stops it.
This is true for both sides, so there's a level playing field, but it's still frustrating.
When you kick off the opposition is in for a tough time nabbing the ball from you. If you're quick enough you can punch through to the goal mouth and fire it in without much difficulty.
The problem here is that you find yourself trading goal for goal, with only those random interceptions changing the pattern.
Look past the thick skin of franchising, and the sports game underneath is quite anaemic.
It works, but there's too much button bashing and waiting until you automatically end up with the ball.
This might appeal to the younger players who'll be pulled in by the lure of familiar characters, but it makes CN Superstar Soccer hard to recommend to anyone who's looking for an actual football game.