There’s something almost hypnotically satisfying about The Simpsons Tapped Out game for Android OS. Sure, it has all the depth of a half-melted kiddie pool, but it’s a good way to kill a five minute bathroom break from playing something with more substance. And make no mistake, if you’re spending more than 5 minutes, twice a day, playing this game you’re investing waaaaay too much time.
If you’re not familiar with the basic, ahem, “plot” (and I use the term with the same looseness that the Detroit Lions use the term “defensive line”) is that good old Homer has accidentally nuked Springfield off the face of the planet and now it’s up to him and Lisa to rebuild it, one completely unsubtle show reference at a time. Every character you unlock gives you another hapless yellow minion you can assign to pointless timed tasks in order to earn what the game actually refers to as “Grind Cash” in a completely self-aware piece of Homeric humor as well as largely pointless experience. Of course, depending on your bowel regularity, you’ll pretty much only use the 12 or 24 hour tasks unless some mission forces you to use one of the others.
What missions you may ask, oh largely disinterested ones? Why not have Apu work yet another insanely long shift or care for his oh so topical octuplets… or have Ned Flanders do something amusingly Christian… or have Marge protest something, just because. But don’t worry if 5-10 minutes a day doesn’t seem like much; in just three months you can work your way all the way up to level 15 and unlock Chief Wiggam. Why you ask? Why not! Now you can force him to… wander around pointlessly. Really, this game has almost none of the ever waning charm of the TV series, except for the exceptionally rare voiced and animated cut-scenes (so far there’s been one for Homer, Lisa, Bart, and Marge… and that’s it.).
So, on one hand, it’s Free-to-Play, but totally devoid of reasons you’d willingly give EA your credit card info… and of course, that’s the biggest strike against them. This is an EA product, so you know that, should you actually give them money, they’re just as likely to cancel the game with practically no warning and replace it with yet another blitz or bingo game.
But shallowness, pointlessness, and EA-ness aside, would I recommend Tapped Out? If you’re a Simpsons fan with regular bathroom habits who can’t be bothered to download an ebook or play a puzzle game, or you just need a break from all the Facebook hosted social media MMOs, then Tapped Out is for you. If you aren’t, then it’s a vapid bore with as much play-ability as a Beta-max tape.