The Simpsons. The world’s favourite cartoon family have appeared in many video games, perhaps most notably in Bart’s Nightmare and the fantastic The Simpsons Arcade game. The residents of Springfield have now made an appearance in the murky world of freemium with The Simpsons: Tapped Out for iPhone and iPad. So, does it go down the dangerous road that publisher EA sent Theme Park down, or is this a more refreshing and better value take on the freemium model?
I will start this review by talking about everything that Tapped Out gets right, and to be honest, there is a lot to love here, especially for the hardcore Simpsons fans out there. EA have, in partnership with the writers of the series, lovingly recreated Springfield in a vibrant and hilarious game that really, truly has the ‘feel’ of The Simpsons down to a tee. The graphics are fabulous looking, perfectly replicating the look of the cartoon, but it is the attention to detail that will make a lot of people fall in love with it.
From the brilliant animations on the characters to finer, extra details such as the three eyed fish in the rivers and the segway that Duffman rides around in, this is a fun game to simply scroll around and watch. The dialog is fantastic, and was actually written by the real writers of the series, with the genuine highlight being the way the game is self depreciating towards its own freemium based model. Which is strange, as that is where the game falls down.
The currency of the game is, unsurprisingly, donuts, and every building or hedgerow requires spending the precious ‘Homer fruit’ to unlock and build. You can earn donuts for free by getting your unlocked characters to complete missions, most of which are actually pretty funny in themselves and enjoyable, and there are also a lot of hidden donuts in the game. Try tapping Homer’s iPad repeatedly…
The trouble is that you need a lot of donuts to unlock many of the cool buildings, which either means waiting an absolute age to level up and complete tasks, or by buying them via an in app purchase. The problem here, however is the incredible cost of the donuts. Maybe $1.99 for 10 donuts doesn’t sound too bad, but there is not a lot that 10 donuts will really go on, and as you can buy packs at an eye watering $99.99, you can see where the game is going to go.
To be fair, though this is still far better than the system in Theme Park, which was an absolute rip off. Here, you can at least slowly earn donuts for free, and the game itself is so funny and enjoyable to play that you won’t mind popping in a few times a day to keep things ticking over.
Overall, if you are a Simpsons fan, you would be mad not to want to try and construct your own version of Springfield, but be warned, it takes a long time to unlock everything without paying through the nose for donuts. What saves The Simpsons: Tapped Out is its perfect take on the series, and also the fact that the game remains fun to explore, even when you are waiting for the next building to complete or for Apu to finish his 168 hour shift at the Kwik-E-Mart. The game drip feed you new content at just the right pace to keep you wanting, and although I have severe reservations about the price of the donuts, I simple have to recommend this game to any iPhone owning Simpsons fans out there.