Version tested: iPhone
It's a sign of the general health of the mobile gaming sector when every one of our weekly roundups elicits howls of derision about the absence of a particular game from the line-up.
The truth is, there's no magic formula for covering this fast-moving, ever-changing scene, and at times it feels like we could triple the coverage and still miss out on something.
So as of next week, Eurogamer is changing the way it deals with digital download content. Rather than try to shoehorn mobile games into one roundup and have the inevitable crossover into the download realm (with the same games, like Hector for example, often appearing on both), we're simplifying the coverage.
Fundamentally, the games that truly deserve a deeper focus will get their own review. As things stand, games as brilliant as DrawRace 2 only get about 350 words when they appear in a roundup format, but from now on will get the extra depth they deserve.
But that doesn't mean that other games will be ignored. Instead, they will now form part of a new weekly column that will be more comprehensive than the current format allows.
So, enjoy what is to be the final Mobile Games Roundup. After 46 editions covering more than 230 games it has served us well, but it's time to move on. See you in the next life!
Pocket League Story
- Android - £2.99
There's something wonderfully naive about Kairosoft's heroic stab at football management. They've probably never heard of Kevin Toms and the mention of the Collyer brothers likely elicits an incoherent mumble.
For once, Pocket League Story feels like it's unfettered by expectations to be the next Football Manager, and it's all the more enjoyable because of it.
Instead of getting mired in a desire to be authentic, Kairosoft opts for its usual pixel-art style and starts you right at the bottom of the pile. With little more than a squad of hopeless cloggers and a local park pitch to play on, you have to prove yourself against even more hopeless teams before the powers that be will allow you in a league of any description.
But in true Kairosoft style, you gradually build yourself up, acquiring new facilities, pitching for sponsorship and signing slightly less useless new players. When it comes to the match day action, there's little for you to do other than change your formation and decide whether to play offensively, normally or defensively. You can't even bring subs on.
The match highlights are adorably terrible, but because they're Kairosoft sprites out there shuffling around, it's OK. A little personality goes a long way.
Thanks to this you build an attachment to your gang of losers, and the desire to see them go out there and climb the league ladder is disproportionately strong. It's also not terrifically hard to win, so the game gives you a daft sense of achievement for not really doing a great deal.
The carrot-and-stick approach keeps you coming back to improve your facilities, put on fan activities, train your star players and occasionally buy new players to strengthen the squad.
As a serious football management game, Pocket League Story fails, objectively, on pretty much every level - which is precisely what makes Kairosoft's retro football fantasy so adorable. Even if you'd rather eat your own face than play a football management game, there's a pretty good chance you'll love Pocket League Story.
Fight Game: Rivals
- Windows Phone 7 - £2.29
I don't know about you, but I've had about as much success playing beat-'em-ups on touch screen devices as I've had becoming the King of England. And yet they try.
Fight Game: Rivals' intriguing solution to this on-going dissatisfaction is to junk the traditional mechanics, set fire to them and dance around them wailing. Well, not quite, but it's a pleasing image.
Instead, the sequence of testosterone-soaked man-bashing is turn-based. You select your preferred manoeuvre and proceed to tap circles on your subject's skeleton at the right moment.
If that sounds completely cracked, it is, but it doesn't stop it from becoming strangely enjoyable once the challenge kicks up a few gears.
For a while, victory feels a bit of a foregone conclusion, and the ease with which you'll fly through the trial levels doesn't do the game any favours.
But once you've progressed through a few tournaments and unlocked some new moves, the whole thing gets more frantic, with a greater emphasis on swift timing and precision.
No-one should expect Fight Game: Rivals to pass as a beat-'em-up - it patently isn't. But as a curious hybrid, it deserves a nod of approval for trying something different.
- iPhone - £1.49
Sad as it is when a much-loved studio goes down the toilet, the talent splurge hitting the download gaming scene is there for all to see. Case in point: Hogrocket's Tiny Invaders, a project forged from the ashes of the mighty Bizarre Creations.
At its twisted heart, this curious tale of tentacled space-germ aliens is equal parts racing game and puzzle game, as you herd them around the innards of unsuspecting humans, trying to infect your hosts as quickly as possible.
But before you can fill them with rancid green ooze and take over their minds you must work your way round a series of circuits, picking up blobs and bringing them back to the ship.
In the initial stages, it's fairly simple stuff, with straightforward circular layouts and a modicum of train-style junction point switching involved. As long as you're diligent enough to switch to the appropriate branch at the right time, it's usually an easy task to qualify for at least two of the available three performance stars.
But once you progress beyond the first three hosts the layouts become far more elaborate, hazard-strewn and unforgiving. No longer does it simply require marshalling the aliens around the best route; you need to figure out how best to avoid the patrolling sentries via a precise sequence of junctions and teleporters.
Suddenly levels will take dozens of attempts to solve, and the one-more-go nature of the game unfurls from its initially underwhelming beginnings. After that, it comes into its own - and with new levels set to come on stream via updates, Tiny Invaders has plenty more to offer before it's done with us.
DrawRace 2 HD
I'm considering suing RedLynx. Not for terrorising my face with offensive rubbish, but for ensuring that I get nothing done every time it releases a game.
DrawRace 2 provides no relief, with a gameplay formula so addictive it may yet bring society to its knees. Or at least keep it collectively clamped to the sofa for unhelpful amounts of time.
As with the original DrawRace, the big idea is that you physically draw the course that you want your car to take in advance of the race, with the pace of your delicate finger-tracing dictating the car's speed as it snakes around the circuit.
This trial-and-error formula ensures that success is fleeting. You might judge a corner perfectly only to apply a little too much speed on the straight and careen haplessly into the sidings. Or you might score the perfect first lap only to get too excited and faff up the crucial second.
But in common with RedLynx's other games, you have to buy into the failure - and it only seems to encourage you to return with renewed vigour.
Testing your lap time prowess in the World League leaderboard is bad enough, but once personal pride enters the equation via the Friend Challenges, there really is no looking back. The 45 seconds or so it takes to play a couple of laps fools you into thinking it won't take long, but when you're replaying the same circuit dozens of times, the hours fly by. As I write this, I am intermittently trying to beat one. [Update: beat you!]
If you happen to have friends nearby, you can even indulge in some pass-the-device multiplayer, where you all get a turn to sketch your routes and then race against one another - with a button in each corner to apply the all-important boost. It's a cunning twist to an already moreish format.
The fact that RedLynx then has the gall to put mountains of tracks, skill levels and modes into a technically impressive package is likely to mean you'll gorge on DrawRace 2 for so long you'll want to send the developer more money out of sheer embarrassment. 69 pence, for goodness' sake!
- iPhone/iPad - 69p (Universal binary)
The helicopter game has got a lot to answer for. My made-up research suggests that the DNA of that patient, probing, one-button survival mission must have mutated its way into at least seven per cent of all successful mobile games. And here's another one, starring a fish that's fond of hats.
For reasons it's best to leave buried deep in the minds of the Launching Pad Games people who wrote this guff, Fin needs a holiday and has signed up for a Round The World Tour. What that means for folk with iOS devices is an excuse to get sucked into another irrepressible, fun-filled one-buttonathon.
Like Tiny Wings and its ilk, you simply press the screen to make Fin dive, and let go to send him soaring into the air. With an array of bubbles to collect, it's the usual rhythm-based affair, where getting good means mentally mapping out each of the 16 levels like a person with nothing better to do.
Despite (or possibly thanks to) its barren, shamelessly derivative mechanics, you can't help buy into its casual nonsense.
If Mighty Fin demonstrates anything, it's the power of the unlockable hat. Seriously, who couldn't enjoy making a Rasta fish happy?