As someone who started watching the Simpson’s when they were first introduced on the Tracey Ullman show, I have a somewhat vested interest in the evolution of this family, including this game that showed up for the iPhone and iPad.
There are pluses and minuses to Simpsons: Tapped Out. If you want to get ahead, then by design you must learn something about time management.
Designing Springfield is no easy task; one has to give thought to where one is going to put what. Then there’s the creative issues and thought process —you wouldn’t want Moe’s bar next to someone’s house, would you?
Like most of these games, there is a currency involved that is real currency. In this case, it is real cash for donuts. These donuts can be used to purchase premium characters, buildings, and rush current in-game projects to completion. Basically, you can progress through the game at a faster pace by spending some dough (no pun intended).
While cute, the real issues here are that it is all too easy to spend donuts accidentally as you are tapping away at piles of cash and XP points. Double tapping on an item may cause you to inadvertently use some of your hard earned (or spent) donuts on trivial tasks. It’s obviously intentional.
There needs to be a pause with a challenge —are you sure that you want to do this? You can get away without spending a single dime and still enjoy the game, but that brings us back to time management. You don’t need every premium character (Dr. Nick, Duff Man, Squeaky Voice Teen, Santa’s Little Helper…), building, or decoration. You also don’t need to rush the time process. That is, unless you want to.
Simpsons: Tapped Out has a nice social backbone. Connecting to the Origin server and playing with friends allows you to visit each of their respective Springfields and gain in-game currency and XP points faster than playing alone. If you don’t want to bother you friends, you can visit the official Tapped Out Facebook page —there’s a plethora of friend requests in the comments.
As the game progresses, things become increasingly more expensive. Plots of land to expand Springfield, new buildings and homes are always a few game dollars away, but needed to maintain the progress of the game at a steady pace. Leveling up is easy at first, but then becomes difficult as you assign character tasks that overlap current goals. Here’s one tip: don’t plant real corn in the Cletus farm. Although the dollars and XP points are tempting, they’ll get in the way of scheduled goals along your journey to rebuild Springfield.
As with every product, Tapped Out has donut sales. When they want to sell you something, they do it with Gill. There is an actual time clock counting down how much longer this special deal will be available, though. This is, of course, to create a sense of urgency to buy.
This holiday season brought Santa Coins to Tapped Out. Unfortunately, the end of this new holiday currency had no expiration date. As I was 37 coins away from completing a quest item worth 1500 coins (and I easily had that in the pipeline), imagine how upset I was when it all just magically disappeared in the middle of the day. One would think that a clock like Gill uses could have been provided to allow us to use donuts to buy coins or spend the ones that we had in 50 coin increments on stockings.
My final feedback to the designers at EA is this: the iPad and iPhone have a wonderful map feature that allows one to rotate the map, look at it flat on or in 3D. Currently the city is only available from one view and does allow one to place buildings and or homes in such a way as one would normally see in real life. Allow rotation to the Springfield view. This would make it easier to add more items and better placements.