Cricket fever is far more preferable to grasshopper fever. Trust me.

I’m not sure if Cricket Fever belongs to the same family of afflictions as Bieber Fever, but hopefully there’s at least a cure. If there isn’t, at least Cricket Fever Challenge can help people deal with some of the symptoms, allowing players to experience some of the fun – but only some – of what is possibly the world’s second most popular sport for free on iOS devices.

Just one of a family of cricket titles produced by Indiagames, Cricket Fever Challenge makesthings simple for newcomers to the sport (like, say, most Americans) by reducing it to a series of challenges instead of whole games. Starting out, this could be something as simple as trying to score as many runs as possible in a single over.

Getting batsmen to do their thing is simple to learn thanks to some well-designed tap and swipe controls. A meter in the upper-left corner goes in motion while the ball is on the way in, and the idea is to swipe right when the meter is in the sweet spot in the center – though this is before the ball actually makes it in, so there’s a bit of a delay before the batsman actually swings. The direction of the swipe determines the direction in which the shot is played, and a power button can be toggled on for lofted shots if desired. After contact is made, a simple button tap can start or cancel a run by the batsmen.

Cricket Fever Challenge

The bowling controls are also pretty easy to grasp, with buttons to choose the type of delivery and taps to pick the location and timing for each ball. Fielders can also be shifted around to different locations, though the defense is automatic once balls are in play. Sadly, it’s possible many players may not even get to test their skills at bowling, as the initial challenges are all about batting.

The game integrates with Facebook so friends can be invited to play. For the friendless, challenges can be made to other random players of roughly equal level. Each completed challenge awards XP which will eventually level you up, though it’s unclear exactly what benefit you may get from continuing to advance. I suppose harder challenges may be their own rewards, as you’ll be blasting sixes pretty regularly on the easy challenges before too long.

You can play a Quick Match or even a World Cup with your choice of nine international teams, three different venues and three difficulty settings, but only if you purchase the full version of the game. And don’t worry, because Cricket Fever Challenge will ask if you want to buy the full version. Like, a lot. It also wouldn’t mind if you shelled out for the official game of the IPL, conveniently also made by Indiagames. Ads for other products also pop up in-between challenges.

Cricket Fever Challenge

Less cynicism is required when talking about the game’s graphics, which are good when viewing the action from a distance and even show a little humor in close-ups of the umpire making calls. Sound effects are minimal, limited to things like hearing the batsmen call to each other about when to make runs. The game does have an annoying habit of the occasional crash, too, and I got dumped out a few times during play and even from the mode selection screens.

It’s hard to see the free version of Cricket Fever Challenge as much more than a glorified demo, since it seems to exist mainly to try to push the paid version – which seems to pale in comparison to some of the other Indiagames cricket titles. It’s a decent introduction to cricket and plays well enough for what it is, but the depth and replay value simply aren’t there for people who are already fans of the sport. I don’t pretend to be anything near an expert on all things wicket-related, but there’s got to be better, more complete cricket games out there than this.