By Ricci D. Kearney
America's favorite cartoon family returns to the exciting world of iOS platform games with "The Simpsons: Tapped Out" on the iPad available for download from Apple's App Store. The video game takes the best parts of games like the "Sims" and "SimCity" and combines them with a social gaming aspect designed to reward its players and keep them coming back for more. Sprinkle the signature "Simpsons" humor on top and you have an interesting experience resembling that of Homer's favorite sweet treat.
"The Simpsons: Tapped Out" begins much like the show, with Homer goofing off at work. While on his "myPad," Homer plays a Farmville clone and verbally expresses his boredom and disdain for the game. It is at this moment when the power plant goes nuclear and blows Springfield to pieces. It is now up to Homer to begin rebuilding Springfield, unlock the rest of the Springfield residents, and most importantly find his family.
On the outside, "The Simpsons: Tapped Out" looks as gorgeous as a freshly baked doughnut. Electronic Arts has had a great track record with iOS games, and "The Simpsons: Tapped Out" is no exception. The colors are crisp, the character models are detailed, and as soon as the game begins you know you're in Springfield. The graphics are right up there with viewing the television show on your HD TV. Fans of the show will immediately feel at ease with their favorite characters as the game seeks to recreate them with graphical precision. But as we know, it is the inside of the doughnut that matters. We have the glaze, now let's search for the filling.
The gameplay in "The Simpsons: Tapped Out" is exactly what you would expect from a town simulation, and that's a good thing. You must build your town, use the skills of the citizens to maintain and grow the town, and then make sure your town is profitable so that you can pour that money back into the town and continue to expound on what you have already created. It may sound repetitive, but it is the various actions that the people of Springfield can do that bring variety to this repetitive formula. You can also add friends within the game and view their take on Springfield. With the level of customization available, no two Springfields will look exactly the same. Now that we have covered the filling, let's get to the flavor of Springfield; the residents.
"The Simpsons" is one of the few shows on television that literally has dozens upon dozens of recognizable supporting characters. Through performing different acts with characters in your town you unlock money, rewards and other familiar faces. Whether it's having Lisa play her saxophone or having Apu work a shift at the Kwik-E-Mart, every action creates the opportunity to unlock a character from a certain class ranging from Churchy Joes to Oddballs. The more residents you unlock, the faster your town can produce money and continue to grow.
"The Simpsons: Tapped Out" is not without its faults. At times I found myself unclear about the next directive that needed to be accomplished to grow the town. Also, the touch controls seem a bit unresponsive at times. There is a lengthy startup time as the game loads, which I assumed would be fixed with server issue that game had in the past. The dialogue between the characters seems like it was ripped straight from a script for the television show, but there is hardly any voice work. I know it would have been a tedious task, but it would have been great for the actors from the show to perform more spoken dialogue for the game to complete the immersive experience that the graphics, script and gameplay provide.
These are small gripes and do not detract from the overall enjoyable experience that I had with the game. I look forward to returning to my version of Springfield, unlocking new characters, and to also see how my friends' versions of Springfield are developing. "The Simpsons: Tapped Out" is a deliciously addictive jelly-filled treat that will keep you salivating for more.
Ricci D. Kearney, a true gaming enthusiast, has worked for a marketing firm in Los Angeles, creating copy for movies, video games and television. He is now pursuing his passion for entertainment writing while also earning his MBA.
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