In the spring, I wrote a review of The Simpsons: Tapped Out, an iOS game released by Electronic Arts. The game — a freemium casual Sim City-inspired grinder for fans of The Simpsons — was great up until the point where it ceased being so. It seemed as though EA had lost interest. The game topped out at level 18 with no further quests or objects to unlock, experience earned was then throwaway and the only way to gain additional items was to pay for donuts and buy them. The game was even yanked from the App Store after ongoing server performance issues. Then one day I launched the game on my iPad, it crapped out and reset back to square one. Months of time wasting was apparently wasted. I could have started troubleshooting and attempting restoration, but why bother? There was nothing new. However, I’m happy to say that, after months of apparent neglect, The Simpsons: Tapped Out is back and in a big way. New levels, new quests, new items, new characters and an entirely new spin on the game with a month of Halloween-themed action featuring zombies and a TV show tie-in.
I reinstalled The Simpsons: Tapped Out for the heck of it a few months ago. To my surprise, it restored to the the Springfield I’d spent all that time grinding to build, despite the fact that I hadn’t bothered to register with an account, but was playing anonymously. That was a good start. Shortly after, there were signs of life in the franchise. A new level was added, along with a new character to unlock. It only took an hour or so of gameplay to complete this, but then a second new level and character. Martin Prince and Nelson Muntz helped freshen the experience a bit after months of sameness. And then the big one: version 3.0 was released.
Inspired by the Treehouse of Horror episodes from The Simpsons, this upgrade adds a ton of new stuff. Springfield Cemetery is a freebie and after being built, it begins spawning zombies. Tapping a zombie nets you either a treat (good for cashing in on content like a pet cemetery — which in turn produces cat and dog zombies), a carton of eggs or toilet paper. Guess what you use the eggs and TP for? Yeah, the other Springfields better watch out… My kids absolutely love this upgrade. Their current mode of operation is to leave the zombies shambling around the town to attack the residents. Once bitten, each of the Simpsons characters turns into an undead version and Springfield soon fills up with a zombie horde. Tapping zombie Homer, Flanders or any of the regulars returns them to their original state, no harm done.
Kid characters like Bart, Lisa and Milhouse have the ability to go trick or treating (in costume) to earn additional treats, mysterious artifact pieces are strewn about and a wide range of new characters and content is now unlockable: everything from Devil Flanders to Kang. Even better, once you max out experience for the previous version, your tally is zeroed out with a new maximum of 88,000 (compare to the previous levels which went to 52,000). This bodes well for ongoing gameplay. There’s also a new tie-in to the TV show. A clue on last night’s Treehouse of Horror episode helps to unlock 10 donuts in the game.
The Simpsons: Tapped Out still isn’t perfect. My single biggest complaint is the need to have an Internet connection in order to play. Besides adding another hoop to jump through, the logging in process can still take longer than it should — the ability to play offline would make things so much better. Expansive games with a lot of buildings and elements seem to overpower the first generation iPad I play on at times; occasionally, buildings and objects are drawn incorrectly until you scroll around and give the system a chance to refresh the screen and banish the glitches. That being said, kudos to EA for breathing new life into the game.
The Halloween functionality is good only until October 31, so if you want to see it, download the game now. It’s free.