Developer: Petit Fabrik
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0.8
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5s

Graphics/Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★½☆☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

With the World Cup progressing to the knock-out stages it is only appropriate that we here at 148apps look into a few of the futbol-related games that have recently appeared on the App Store. Today it’s Mini Champions: a happy little game by Petit Fabrik that brings a handful of participating countries together for some 5-vs-5 action.

The first thing that’s immediately apparent about Mini Champions is that there is definitely a solid and uniform art style behind it. Everything looks like a early afternoon animated children’s show on the Disney Channel, and while I am not always a fan of the smooth, poppy design, it fits in with the game’s simple direction.

screen568x568Simple is really the best word to describe this Mini Champions. There’s only one gameplay mode: pick a team and try to win the cup. This is disappointing, even for a small game like this, but some may prefer the straightforward pick-up-and-play style. The controls consist solely of swiping and tapping – and it is amazing that, for as easy as the control scheme is to understand, it is equally as frustrating in practice. I’ve always disliked virtual control pads, but after playing this game for an extended period of time I felt myself longing for that semi-transparent cross in one of the corners.

The main problem is that the players have to be looking in the direction of the player or goal to kick it there, and for anyone who has never seen the game of soccer before, that is not exactly how it works. Having to physically turn a player 90 degrees to cross it into the box is an awkward experience at best. I found my first few games a frustrating exercise of attempting to line up my players while the AI defenders swarmed me and took the ball away. The other problem is that tapping to pass or switch defenders is great but putting a big opaque finger in the way blocks the action on the screen.

print_2To go along with poor controls are a small smattering of little annoyances that add up during the length of a game. Dispossessing an opponent is a hit-or-miss endeavor, and it is complicated by horrid teammate AI that simply stands and watches as the enemy attacker slides past the generally useless goalkeeper. This would not be as frustrating if switching from one defender was as easy as it should be, but for some reason tapping on a defender does not always switch control to them.

All in all, the game got better the more I played it and adjusted to its particular “quirks,” and I did start genuinely caring about my little band of cartoon athletes. MiniChampions is best reserved for those looking for something to pass the time on the bus on the way home.


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