Normally I despise the whole “freemium” game genre and try stay at least 50 meters away from these types of games at all times. Tap and wait, or pay, just doesn’t sit right with me as a gameplay mechanic. However, I am a huge fan of that sarcastically hilarious yellow American family: The Simpsons. When I heard EA was making a game where you could build your very own Springfield I just couldn’t pass it up. I had been playing this game on and off since its release (Feb 2012). It was actually a stressful time in my life when I started playing it. I had just recently got laid off from my job and was waiting in my car for a job interview appointment with another company. The quirky humor of the game definitely helped me through my nervous state (and yes, I got that job and still have it today).
How Far I Got
This is a game that never ends until the developers pull it off the servers or you decide you’ve finally had enough. The latter finally happened to me in August of this year. I have 3+ years worth of characters, buildings, and design work in my level 55 Springfield. Despite the many content updates, I have finally grown so tired of the core gameplay model that the Simpsons charming humor can’t even hold my interest anymore. It was starting to feel like a mundane chore to send my small army of Simpsons characters on jobs every 8-12 hours or so.
There is a decent amount of control you have when building your Springfield. Characters can be assigned jobs to earn currency and experience to level up your town. Bulidings and jobs take a set amount of real world time to complete. But of course, you have the option of dropping real world money to speed things along and get exclusive content. You can also add people as neighbours and visit their Springfields for a bit of XP each day. Most of my ‘friends’ were random people from the forums saying “Add me”. I was merely using them for the holiday events.
The final nail in the coffin for this game with me was the core gameplay element of tap and wait. They had just introduced a new and even more tedious implementation of this by having your characters do short term jobs to earn materials to build stuff (Springfield Heights). I put up with it for a bit but when the limited time Monorail event had the same design, that was enough for me to call it quits. I was also growing weary with having to send so many characters individually on jobs every set period of time. The developers are good at providing frequent content updates and themed events that spice things up a bit. It is ultimately the same tedious gameplay elements so once you get bored with that, the game is finished for you.
The developers did a good job of animating the characters and buildings. They are all modeled after the TV show and have all the little details that made me smile. Some characters have animated jobs that make them wander around humorously. For the most part the game ran smoothly on the two phones I went through during my playtime (iPhone 4 and Nexus 5). I did encounter frequent glitches where objects were displayed incorrectly. For example, I had many occasions where my fences were turning into characters and fountain animations became distorted. These glitches actually made me laugh and made for some hilarious screenshots. Closing the game and reopening it always fixed everything.
There is a variation of the Simpsons theme that plays while you’re assigning jobs to your Springfielders or designing your town. The jingle does get repetitive over time. The developers seemed to realize this as the music cuts out after a period of time. Some of the characters are voiced by their actors from the TV show and say lines when you tap on them. I really enjoyed hearing them at first. Once again, these lines to get repetitive over time. I can only listen to Homer say “I wish this was a shooter game.” so many times before I have to turn the sound off. Another complaint I have is that there are a lot of characters that have no voices at all. I understand there are most likely legal reasons for this but it still annoyed me.
My Overall Biased Opinion
As a fan of the Simpsons there was more than enough episode tie ins and references to keep me happily tapping and waiting (and occasionally paying) for a few years. I enjoyed the dialog and the game always pokes fun at itself for being “freemium”. If this had none of the Simpsons charm I never would have even considered playing it. It’s definitely worth trying out if you enjoy The Simpsons, but it will grow stale for you eventually.
SPOILERS AHEAD!! You have been warned.
Favourite Story Moment
The Halloween event from 2013 where Homer had to appease ghosts from his past, including Maude Flanders’ ghost. Her task called “Getting revenge on Homer” for killing her with a barrage of T-Shirts on the show was hilarious.
When they introduced a feature called the Town Census. This allowed you to finally keep track of you idle characters.
Favorite “Oh S@#%” Moment
When you fork over many donuts to buy a massive ray gun and are finally able to shoot pesky Kodos out of the sky during a Halloween event.
They added a few areas over the years (Squidport, Krustyland, Springfield Heights) but my favourite is still the main part of Springfield.
Hank Scorpio that comes with the Volcano Lair. It was the first premium thing I saved up for. It cost a whopping 200 donuts (the game’s real world money currency) but it was worth it to have the awesome boss/super villain terrorizing my streets with his flamethrower.
Most Tedious Gameplay Moment
Tapping and waiting for everything.