Saturday, September 8, 2012

TGD Review: The Simpsons Tapped Out Is Just That

One of the greatest shows in the history of television and unarguably the pioneer of the plethora of adult  oriented animated series currently on television is The Simpsons.  I have been a long lover and supporter of the yellow skinned family from Springfield and am willing to consume Simpsons merchandise when it's worth while.

Certainly, Homer and his family are no strangers to video games.  I remember throwing quarter after quarter into the four person brawler while at the arcade with my friends.  One of my favorite games when the Gamecube was new was The Simpsons Road Rage.  So it was with hope in my heart that I thought the heroes of the beloved television series might make me more receptive to the time consuming world building games that have become so popular on smart phones and social media.  Below are the results.

The Plus Side:  Hey, it's the Simpsons.  What fan wouldn't get an instant kick out of seeing the likes of Homer, Apu and Flanders (stupid, Flanders) walk around on the screen of their phone?  And the opportunity to customize their own brand new version of Springfield after it was (SPOILER ALERT) blown up by a nuclear reaction due to Homer's inattention (don't worry, somehow all your favorite characters survived?) is also an understandable draw to Simpsons fans.

The game is pretty detailed.  The vivid colors of the television show remain true on your smartphone.  The voices are all there.  The characters interact consistently with the ways they feel about one another on the show.  If you're looking to basically have a digital fishbowl full of your favorite Simpsons characters, you will not be disappointed.

However, since I generally expect more form my video games, that leads me to address...

The Down Side:  The novelty wears off.  Eventually, you see through the presentation and realize that no matter how many classic and genuinely hilarious characters they allow to pop onto your screen, you are simply playing a game that forces you to spend hours upon hours waiting for stuff to load.  Then you are asked if you want to spend some money in order to not wait so long.  The fact that the game sarcastically pokes fun at itself for this in classic Simpsons' fashion doesn't make it sting any less.

I have to be perfectly honest, I just don't get these games.  I played SimCity as a kid when it first came out and I liked it, but now simulation games seem more constrained.  You are told step by step what to do, the variety of choices laid before you are limited and you have to spend an incredible amount of time waiting around for each step to be completed.  There really isn't a distinct goal.

Not that I always need a goal.  Minecraft is a game that allows you to just explore an open world, build and customize to the very finest detail 'til your heart's content.  But, again, the amount of customizable detail is incredible.

It also chaffs me to no end to be constantly reminded that I can spend money to purchase something within the game to make it go faster.  If you are paying to get aspects of the game over with, that suggests it has gotten to a level that just isn't fun anymore.  Then again, everyone seems to be playing these games and dropping tons of money on them, so maybe I'm the crazy one.  Still, the fact that the Simpsons are in it doesn't make this game worth playing long term in my opinion.

The Wrap Up:  I am completely ready to admit that my review of this game in more an indictment upon the direction simulation games have taken more so than a poor review for this specific game.  I will say it is amusing, but in the end I deleted it from my iPhone because I was sick of being notified that the house I started building four hours ago was finally done so that I could go start building Moe's Bar and come back in another few hours when it was finished.

However, if you just can't get enough of these games, The Simpsons Tapped Out is a viable option.  You may be playing a crappy game and wasting time, but at least the Simpsons characters are a part of it.  Plus, it's not as annoying as other games of this sort, where all the loot you spent days hoarding can get taken while you spend time doing something more productive in your sleeping.  Also, my kids have it on the iPod and still fart around with it occasionally and still seem to find it funny.  I don't mind, but only because they don't have my iTunes account password.  At least it was free to start.

In conclusion, this game isn't the worst thing that will ever happen to you, unless you really love these games and it consumes every waking hour of your life.  But then you'd probably be okay with that.

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