The popular Chop Chop franchise applies its unique ninja skills to the world’s most popular sport

The worldwide popularity of association football (soccer) is down to its simplicity and its flexibility. All your average street urchin needs to play the game is a ball of some kind. As such, while the brand of soccer played on the streets of Rio or Lagos is far removed from the professional game, it’s no less valid. Likewise, Chop Chop Soccer manages to accurately distil the essence of football into a distinctive one-finger experience.

This is no realistic approximation of the beautiful game as seen in the likes of FIFA or X2. There’s no virtual d-pad, no skill moves and no through ball command. Indeed, Gamerizon’s game has even omitted most of the players. Instead we have a tight 3-on-3 variant of the sport played by super-deformed players. If you’ve played any of the other Chop Chop games (Ninja, Runner or Tennis) you’ll know all about the series’s quirky, anime-influenced aesthetic.

Chop Chop Soccer

The main mode here is Tournament, which allows you to enter four globe-spanning knock-out competitions. You get to pick from 12 international teams, each with their own strengths in “attack”, “defence” and “goalie”. It’s a little irritating that you can only see the appropriate stats in Single Match mode, but if you follow international football you’ll know who the decent teams are.

Just as the aforementioned street kid needs only a ball to get playing soccer, so you need only your fore-finger to play Chop Chop Soccer. When in possession of the ball, dragging around the screen causes your player to dribble. Passing and shooting are simply matters of flicking your finger in the appropriate direction, with extended movements lending additional height to the ball. While the game occasionally misreads your intentions, sometimes passing when you mean to dribble, this can be lessened considerably with practice.

In defence, all you need to do is swipe the screen in the direction of the ball carrier to initiate a sliding tackle. Your goalie operates autonomously.

From these basic building blocks emerges a surprisingly nuanced game of footy, which employs ingenuity in place of elaborate controls. If you want to send a defender the wrong way with a Zidane-esque 360 degree turn, simply draw a quick circle on the screen. Want to send your pacey striker through on goal with a defence-splitting pass? That’s entirely possible, provided you angle your flick correctly.

Chop Chop Soccer

Before long you’ll be engineering intricate, Spain-like passing manoeuvres around your opponent’s box before slotting in a first-time volley. In fact, it’s a crying shame (and a bit of a flaw) that there’s no instant replay facility, as the flowing football – combined with some excellent 3D graphics – leads to plenty of “let’s see that again” moments. Hopefully this omission will be remedied in a future update.

Also irritating is the proficiency of the goalies. They’re a little too good, coming across as robots rather than fallible semi-human ninja beings. While this is partially related to each team’s goalie stat, it would have been nice to see a few more palmed-out efforts leading to the possibility of goals on the rebound. Too many point-blank blasters end up being scooped up like the keepers are covered in super glue.

As a result, the variety of goals you’ll score is slightly impaired. The main type you’ll encounter will be high shots from the edge of the area in the opposite corners, or straight tap-ins following a quick cross.

Chop Chop Soccer plays a bright and particularly accessible brand of a football. You do get the impression that it would benefit from embracing its wacky, larger than life side a little more, but it still stands as a refreshing alternative to some of the straighter soccer titles on the App Store.