There’s been a lot of debate over the years about mobile gaming and whether it should count as part of the genre that so many people follow. Should we look at a game that is designed to be played for five minutes at a time a really form of art? However, one thing has not been up for debate: the popularity of The Simpsons. The two have combined into a game called “The Simpsons: Tapped Out” with the promotional blurb of “This game is life-ruiningly fun.” But is it really worth your time? I’ve been playing it for the better part of a year now, and I’m here to tell you that it is.
The game starts out like any Episode of The Simpsons would: Homer is sitting at work wasting time on his MyPad. As he plays a “Farmville” type game, he doesn’t pay attention to the rising thermostat attempting to warn him of the imminent nuclear power plant explosion. The plant explodes, sending people and buildings flying everywhere. Of course this all works out for Homer, as no one is killed and they just have to be returned to Springfield by re-building the town. But this time, Homer (or better yet, YOU) gets to decide how the town shall be laid out and be rebuilt. Springfield can finally become yours.
Just as Homer’s mobile game before his explosion, The Simpsons: Tapped Out is a Farmville type game, where the player has to set characters to do “jobs” for a certain period of time, and then come claim the rewards from said job. The difference (and the fun part) of the game comes from the characters that we’ve known and loved throughout the years. The real Simpson’s cast lends their voices to this game, so you’re able to hear the real voices in Springfield as you follow the game prompts to rebuild Springfield. In true Simpsons fashion, the lines of dialogue are funny, self-promoting and self-deprecating. The characters make multiple references to how much certain (worthless to the plot) items cost and how the player is more and more of a loser as the player rises in levels.
If there’s one downfall to this game, it’s the fact that it’s made by EA. EA owns the rights to all Simpsons video game media (as evidenced by the surprisingly excellent The Simpsons Game) and they will use any excuse to extract your hard earned money from you. Most games today have some sort of option to pay real dollars to help you along in the game or access premium content to make your town feel….well cooler I guess, I haven’t figured it out. In this game, donuts are the form of premium currency, as they have apparently been affected by the radiation of the nuclear blast to distort time and space. A player can use donuts to speed up the timing of a building or job, or to purchase a character or building that regular in-game money can’t buy. EA puts the opportunity to buy donuts everywhere, the items that donuts buy plentiful, and the opportunity to earn donuts virtually nonexistent. Of course it’s a free app, so people can get through without purchasing anything with real money, but it really drives someone crazy when they have to wait two days for a building to complete so you can move onto the next part of the mission.
The Simpsons: Tapped out is a pretty good way to pass about 5 to 10 minutes in a day if you’re not doing anything else. The game is simple to learn and despite the short lines of dialogue, still makes me laugh. The game is being updated frequently (a complaint that was addressed about 6 months ago when there was nearly no new content) with new characters and missions for the player to complete, so you’re always feeling like you’re actually doing something…even if you’re really not. However, out of all the popular mobile games out there (Candy Crush, Angry Birds, whatever the app of the day is) this game is absolutely near the top. Instead of mind numbingly harvesting crops, you’re able to mind numbingly send Bart to school…but you get a chuckle out of it. Over all, I’d give it 3 ½ donuts out of five.