In response to a few recent games that appear to be lacking in the criteria. This is a short list and thoughts on some stand out game mechanics that developers seem to be ignoring and need to build upon.
iOS Review- The Simpsons: Tapped Out
Simpsons games have always quietly been a lot of fun. I remember playing Hit and Run or Road Rage at my friends house and having a right hoot, so when this EA developed game came out for iOS (for free!) I didn’t even question downloading it. After a few hours of gameplay however the classic iOS bug bares raise their ugly heads and this game shows a few cracks.
Tapped Out opens with Homer messing up at the Power Plant and causing a nuclear meltdown which ravages Springfield but somehow leaves many of the residents unscathed. The player is tasked with the job of rebuilding Springfield back to its former glory using money collected from things such as income tax and tasks. Donuts are also a method of currency and offer the player exclusive and rare items, but more about that later.
The initial thing that hits you with this game, after the seriously long loading screen, is the graphics. They’re truly up to scratch and echo the TV show impeccably which for a mobile device is impressive. The characters are voiced by their own respective actors which is another nice touch and offers a satisfactory “D’oh’ from Homer or a familiar “Howdily doodily’ from Flanders every time you touch them.
The tasks are mostly player specific, so Cleatus has farming related tasks ( Like growing Triffids!) and Flanders has bible studying which helps to add dynamics to the gameplay however many seem to share the same tasks causing some repetitiveness. The tasks can also take unnaturally long amounts of time to complete that just seem illogical for what the character is doing, for example when Krusty walks Mr Teeny the task takes up to 12 hours! These unnaturally long tasks cause the game to cease to be interesting during task time as there simply isn’t anything worth doing in that time except collecting taxes.
Having mentioned currency earlier, I’d like to elaborate on this problem. US Dollars act as the main currency for the game and can be gathered from characters doing tasks and income taxes from homes, this money can then be saved up over long periods of time to purchase new buildings and decorations for your town. To put things into perspective, the Simpsons residence income is $3 per 42 seconds and Millhouses home is $3,400 so you can get an idea of how often you need to be checking back on your town.
Another issue with the currency system on Tapped Out is the donuts, a special currency used to purchase special items such as volcanoes and Tire fires. The problem is donuts are far and few between, they are rewarded for levelling up and for special missions but only a max of 3 and to purchase the cheapest special item costs 10 donuts all the way up to 200 donuts for the aforementioned volcano. Donuts are also used to circumnavigated the extremely long wait times this game faces by speeding up tasks so you can understand why the 3 donuts you get rewarded with every now and then don’t exactly last long. The only way to get more is to pay extortionate prices for donut packages as shown below.
The donut packages are not necessary for play and you can go through much of the game, albeit slowly, without seeing hide not sprinkle of the doughy puddings so thankfully the game isn’t ruined buy in game purchases… rather tainted by them. Also as this game is free you’re largely unable to complain as the graphics and gameplay are pretty substantial and has much merit where many games of a similar build do not. You can visit your Springfield on your iPad too and view your minions in HD which is another simple yet brilliant addition. It’s very similar to The Sims and as such offers a similar level of addictivness which will have you frequenting Springfield far more than you will have previously anticipated. I would encourage giving this a download to Simpsons fanatics and newcomers alike, overall a well built and enjoyable mobile game.
Version 4.0.0 was released on the 5th of December and is available on the App Store. This was reviewed after 6+ hours of gameplay on an iPhone 4. The images used are all screenshots of my gameplay and are all christmassy due to this review being written at the time of version 4.0.0. The decor does change dependant on the holiday such as Halloween and Christmas.