One of the most searched-for terms to find this blog is “Simpsons Tapped Out” … So I decided to give it a go to see what the fuss was about. This tap-happy little time waster is a popular game on both iTunes and App Stores around the world. The premise is that Homer has accidentally destroyed the town of Springfield and it’s your job to rebuild it. Simple!
You’re given Homer straight away, and a few other characters become unlocked once you build their associated buildings e.g. Krusty when you build Krusty Burger and Milhouse when you build the Van Houten house. To build things, you need one of two things: play money and donuts… and here’s where the game starts sucking. The play money is easy enough to earn through the game, but the donuts are not: the only way to (legitimately) get enough of them is to buy them through the store using real money. This game is #1 on the Top Grossing charts on iTunes for good reason: those donuts don’t come cheap and it’s very easy to spend them.
All your favourite characters are included and unlocked at various stages of the game. You assign tasks to them, which, when completed, earn you play money and experience- when you fill your experience bar, you level up so that more buildings, characters, decorations etc are unlocked. These tasks depend on the character, for example, Homer can laze in the kiddy pool for 6 hours, Ned can do some emergency Bible study for 8 hours, Lisa can complete next week’s homework for 24 hours and Cletus can de-louse the young uns for 4 hours; there are many tasks that only last a few seconds or minutes, but earn you fewer points and money.
The game is updated frequently to correspond with calendar events (I happened to acquire the game during the Valentine’s Day update, which has since been erased; I believe the next one will be a St Patrick’s Day event) so there’s always something new to do/build/achieve. You can add friends, visit their towns and wreak havoc once a day. Visiting friends earns you more rewards even though you then have to spend play money to fix the vandalism they’ve caused…
The app itself is a free download, but it’s a very big file which will take several minutes to install. It should not be thought of as a free game as you need donuts which can only be bought using real money. It’s for this reason that I won’t rate the game very highly. It’s a good idea and addictive (the creators use every trick in the book to get you hooked immediately) but the whole donut-buying scheme drags it down. A quick Google will show you more about the donut situation, but when you do things illegitimately the privilege can be taken away in the next update and your game account can be suspended.
I’ve only been playing for a few days so I haven’t been able to fully explore the capabilities. I haven’t spent money buying donuts and as a result, my Springfield is looking a bit poor. I would like to see donuts earned more freely; when you level up the reward is usually one or two donuts but you might need 150 to complete a project. Without purchasing donuts, your opportunities in the game are severely limited.
It’s for this reason I’m giving the game 3/5 stars. I understand that they need to earn their money for creating such a big game and investing a lot of time into updates etc, but I think earning more donuts within the game and being able to top up by purchasing more would be a better game experience and encourage people to play.