Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Simpsons: Tapped Out

I've always enjoyed games that allow me to organize stuff, hence my previous addiction to Sims City, Pet Society, and Cityville. I'm not sure if it's a case of wishful thinking, both for my home and the city of Manila, but I relish being able to design and build them from the ground up. My problem though with those games is that they require you to beg your friends to visit your 'house' or 'city' and click your Facebook links, say 15 times, to be able to give you the requisite virtual stuff to level up. Some also require you to sign up as much as 15 'neighbors' that I've actually befriended people I don't know in real life.

Mayor Quimby makes a speech in front of the city hall, while Devil Ned Flanders "shows his wrath" on the upper left. The rest of the citizens walk by.

Which makes The Simpsons: Tapped Out the BEST GAME of its genre. Save for a task to have about three friends as neighbors, you can enjoy this game without having to bother other people. And by enjoy, I mean enjoooy—the characters are a hoot particularly when they make self-referential jokes about being an iOS city-building game.

1. "Are you cheating on me with another game?"

2. "I wish this was a shooter game."

3. Lisa: Zombies are pouring out of the cemetery!
Homer: Think! What kills zombies—silver bullets? Garlic? Me relaxing in my hammock?
Lisa: The best method is squishing them with an enormous sky-finger.
Homer: Where, oh where, will we ever find one of those?

It's like having a long Simpsons episode unveil before you, thanks to the oncoming witty and funny quips.

Tasks take a certain amount of time to finish, ranging from as short as 45 seconds to as long as a full day.

Rev. Lovejoy walks his dog; Grampa feeds the birds while Moe smuggles endangered species.

Gameplay is easy: Homer destroys Springfield in a nuclear accident. Together with Lisa, you are then tasked to rebuild the city, first by cleaning up your land, gain characters, and then later: earn money through your buildings and the jobs you assign your characters; and earn donuts, mainly by leveling up. Again, the tasks don't require you to spam your friends with requests, so you leave them and your neighbors in peace.

To design your city, you can create roads, rivers, and pavements for free.

Donuts are the premium currency in this game so I suggest you don't spend them on useless stuff so you can buy fancier buildings later on. (Here's an Easter Egg: tickle [tap] Homer 10 times and you get 10 donuts and a Jebediah Springfield statue.

You can purchase money and donuts using your credit card but why do that? :-P

Homer: Why do zombies do anything? For money, that's why.
Lisa: Erm, I'm pretty sure all zombies care about is eating brains.
Homer: You need to hang out with a higher class of zombie.

In October, a new version was released that added a Halloween component to the game. Some of the characters get to have a second 'skin' (e.g., Homer as a Mayan; Ned as the Devil), and zombies overrun your city every 10 hours, at least if you don't squish them. I actually enjoy letting the zombies be because then, they bite my Simpsons characters, who then turn into zombies themselves. They do no actual harm in terms of game play; it's really just a colorful nod to the upcoming season.

Zombies overrun my city; closeup of Homer as a zombie 

Another plus side is that the game allows you to synchronize across all your iOS devices as long as you create an Origin (EA Games) account. On the downside, the game is not available on Android and you have to be connected to the Internet to play it. If your connection is spotty, it tends to synchronize to the server more often, which cuts your playing time every now and then. On occasion, it has also experienced server issues apparently due to heavy traffic. (It is reportedly the top-grossing game for the iPad and the iPhone.) But if you do have a steady connection, these are just minor hiccups to what promises to be a funny and amusing gaming experience.

Rating: 9/10

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