Gorillaz Entertainment System

To say that mobile games based on bands have a chequered history is an understatement.

Remember Blue: The Band Revealed? Busted Manager? Thought not. Both those games (and the bands, come to think of it) were rubbish, so it's not surprising.

The Gorillaz aren't rubbish, though, so mobile games creator Mr Goodliving is onto a good thing with this latest attempt at a music-related mobile game. And as a cartoon band with four strong characters, Gorillaz is tailor-made for gaming goodness.

The idea behind Gorillaz Entertainment System is to blend the band with four retro mini-games, one for each member of the band: Noodle, Russell, 2D and 'Muds' – who we thought was called Murdoc, but there you go. The mini-game structure and ultra-simple controls will be familiar if you've played any of Mr Goodliving's Playman sports games, while the graphics have been created by the actual Gorillaz designers, so they're instantly recognisable.

Taking each mini-game in turn, Muds/Murdoc's is a primitive version of Block Breaker, where you use a bat to hit a ball to destroy a bunch of bricks. Except in this case, the bat is replaced by a leering Muds. In his pants. It's enough to put you off your lunch, and when the novelty wears off, it's just dull.

Noodle's mini-game has you blocking flying objects by pressing down, left and up. It demands quick reactions, but again it doesn't hold your attention for long.

On the surface, Russel's mini-game is just as simple. Cookies appear at random corners of the screen and you have to hit '4', '6', '7' and '9' to munch them. It's hard to explain why this is fun and Noodles' game isn't, but it's a fact. Maybe we were brainwashed as kids by watching Cookie Monster on Sesame Street.

However, best of the lot is 2D's game, where you have to make a punch bag fly as far as possible by hitting the '5' key in time with an indicator. It's like Skipping Stone crossed with that Yetisports web game where the polar bear hits a penguin with a baseball bat. In other words, fab.

So, Gorillaz Entertainment System is a mixed bag then. It's puzzling that Mr Goodliving didn't include a pass-the-handset multiplayer mode, as they do in the Playman games. And even more baffling is the lack of any Gorillaz music. There's not even a polyphonic rendition of Dare or Clint Eastwood. Maybe the band didn't think mobiles were up to the job.

Gorillaz Entertainment System certainly looks the part, but it doesn't deliver on the gameplay front. It's diverting fun, admittedly, and worth downloading if you're a huge fan. But it's not the toon title we were hoping to go ape for.

Mr Goodliving is reportedly already working on a sequel, though, so we'll out our hopes for that encore.

Gorillaz Entertainment System

The Gorillaz look as good as you'd expect, but the gameplay needs a bit of monkeying around
Stuart Dredge
Stuart Dredge
Stuart is a freelance journalist and blogger who's been getting paid to write stuff since 1998. In that time, he's focused on topics ranging from Sega's Dreamcast console to robots. That's what you call versatility. (Or a short attention span.)