The Simpsons haven’t had the very best of luck when it comes to video gaming. Despite the cartoon family’s rampant televisual victory, the show’s brand of humour has not quite worked in an interactive setting.
So it’s no surprise to see EA hedging its bets with The Simpsons: Tapped Out, a FarmVille clone built around a freemium model that is with its permit just as much as its own gameplay to haul from the punters.
The result isn’t bad, if nagging time-sinks will be your bag, but it’s the thread of underwhelming games built around one of the largest names in the entertainment industry tapped out hack.
The game starts with Homer at work, jabbing in an iPad-like device and commenting about how boring the FarmVille clone he’s playing with is. There are a number of jokes, and then a atomic burst wipes Springfield by the surface of the planet. It’s your endeavor to rebuild the fair city but you see fit.
A tutorial walks you through the intricacies of all town-planning, teaching you how to purchase houses, complete quests, and earn the match’s two currencies: cash plus donuts.
Cash buys bog-standard items – the sort of stuff you’ll need to make a thriving community filled with jelqing characters who are not really interesting. If you’d like the show’s enormous guns, you’ll need to devote donuts.
Quests appear as exclamation marks hanging over characters’ heads.
Harness one and you will find yourself a bit of catch of not-too-pithy dialog before that character puts off on his merry method to do whatever type task you’ve set for him.
Completing these tasks can take hours, however – unsurprisingly – like a liberal dollop of donuts into the combination will speed things up. The same is true for building new structures, which get you cash and XP in the kind of taxation.
One time per day it is possible to visit alternate Springfields – either the main one the match provides, or one which a friend has generated. You have to get cash there, too, and your friends can do the exact same in your variant of the town. You’ll need to have an Origin account to access the internet features, though.
Game-play is punctuated by occasional jokes against the cast of this show. The majority of these are poking fun at you for being scammed out of your hard earned money by the freemium model, and more often than not they believe mean spirited rather than satirical.
The Simpsons: Tapped Outside really wants to let you create and manage your own little Springfield, filling this up with characters that you know and love. In the end, though, it all feels just a bit too cloying. It disturbs at you for focus, and rewarding steady play but charging you to reap the huge benefits if you skip a day.
And as soon as it has to do with the gameplay, there isn’t enough variety to keep you amused. Similar to Homer at the beginning of the match, all you do is tapping on the monitor, also deciding whether or not to spend your hard-earned bites on speeding up things.
What you’re left with is just a parody that’s far too near the actual thing for comfort.