The Simpsons: Tapped Out – A Review Of The Newest Online Craze
The Simpsons Tapped Out is the latest craze to hit the mobile online gaming market, with its iPad and Android releases proving to be huge hits and attracting legions of addicted and loyal followers across the world. We take a detailed look at the gameplay and its features, and explore what makes the game so addictive.
If you’re at all in touch with the ever-growing iPad and Android online gaming market, you’ll certainly be familiar with The Simpsons : Tapped Out, a recently released strategy/town building game in the tradition of TradeNations and Farmville, but featuring fully licensed characters, environments and voices from everyone’s favourite show, The Simpsons. It’s achieved enormous popularity over the past several months – so much so, in fact, that developers EA were taken completely by surprise at the sheer number of players who signed up the game, and the game suffered significant technical issues and glitches over the first few months of the game’s release.
Now that many of the glitches and bugs have been fixed, we sit down to take a detailed look at how the game plays, feels and looks.
We’ve played it, in total, for about an aggregate total of 1000 hours now, and can say without any hesitation that it’s incredibly addictive.
The first thing that will pull you in is the amazingly accurate replication of the Simpson’s world – the voices, animation, sound effects, humour, everything is top notch and really lends the game an authentic feel.
So much so that there are scenarios within the game that are as funny, if not funnier than events from the actual show, such as Homer’s re-enacting of the Mayan collapse and Kang the Rigellian’s intriguing visitation. The dialogue in the game is genuinely hilarious, and really harks back to the golden era of The Simpsons when the writing team was at its creative peak.
Many of the show’s major and side characters have detailed questlines that you must discover and unlock, and finding them is sometimes very challenging, yet always fun – sometimes you’ll accidentally unlock a major character’s storyline which brings with it a major sense of achievement. EA have also promised to release new content on a regular basis, containing new quests with episode tie-ins – the recent Gorgeous Grandpa update is a good example of this.
The gameplay itself, however, while extremely addictive – won’t appeal to everybody – if you’re not a fan of the TradeNations/Farmville/Smurfs genre of games you probably won’t find anything here to enjoy, as it’s intrinsically the same style of game at heart, only with added Simpsons hilarity and charm.
The general gist of the game is thus: buy houses, earn some money, buy more buildings and vanity items, expand your town, ad nauseum. You’ll be well familiar with the cycle by now, and if you’re not – there’s no better game to get your feet wet than with this one. It’s not the time of game that will keep you glued to the screen for hours on end, as it does take a significant amount of time for certain tasks to finish, such as planting crops, but it’s one of those games that you’ll find yourself constantly checking for ten to twenty minutes here and there to check your progress, and the hours will soon add up. Of course, as with all of these ‘freemium’ games, you can just skip the waiting and spend your hard-earned dosh to purchase in-game currency.
However, it has to be said that you don’t need to buy donuts to enjoy playing it – we at Coconut Daily played it for several weeks without buying a single premium item, and still saw a good amount of the game’s content. Admittedly, though, eventually we yielded to temptation and spend a few dollars here and there to get a few extra donuts just to speed up some buildings and buy a Funzo. When you consider that the game’s free to download, though, spending $5 here and there is not a big deal – it’s certainly a game that’s worthy of at least some of your precious pennies.
Inflation, though, has already set in to the Tapped Out economy, however, as more and more people revert to buying in-game currency rather than wait to reap the benefits of their in-game work. Take some of the new items such as the ‘Popsicle Stick Skyscraper’, for example, which sells for $2 million in-game dollars, or the ‘Escalator to Nowhere’ which sells for $1,000,000 in-game dollars. You can’t blame people for opting for the quick route of purchasing in-game cash though, as earning it yourself is slow-going indeed – you receive just 1 measly donut per level and it costs about $10 US to buy 132 donuts. Some premium content like the Lard Lad Donuts building costs around 110 donuts, so you can see why people would be tempted.
The social aspect of the game is one of its strongest points, as the sheer number of people playing the game means it’s ridiculously easy to find new people to befriend and assist, and share valuable resources such as hearts. There’s also a very active forum over at EA to find new people to help out and group with if you can’t find any in-game.
As far as performance goes, The Simpsons Tapped Out runs flawlessly on newer Android devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (the device we tested it on), and on an iPad 3. We also tested it on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and an iPad 2, and both ran immaculately, with very little noticeable slowdown. Your mileage may vary on smartphones however, but we venture to say that any compatible smartphone released in the past 18 months or so should handle this game with ease.
Overall, then, The Simpsons Tapped Out is a real triumph of the freemium business model and probably the best example yet of the Farmville city-building type genre. Check it out if you are one of the very few who haven’t yet.