By Scott Neumyer
I’m probably the perfect target audience for Gameloft’s latest licensed iOS game My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Not only am I a card-carrying Brony, but I also have a nearly-four-year-old daughter who is almost as equally obsessed with Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle, and the rest of the Mane Six. If Gameloft is trying to reach both demographics with this release, they’ve hit them both in one household here.
From the colorful loading screen to the meticulously detailed in-game graphics, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is an absolute beauty of a game. If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll immediately recognize your favorite pony characters and the simple storyline that is based in part on the first two episodes of the series. And, if you’re not already a fan of the show, you’ll still have plenty of eye candy to delight in while you fiddle away on your iPad or iPhone gathering virtual currency, building pony homes, and playing mini-games.
The Gameloft release is a freemium universal app on iOS and is also available on the Android platform, meaning you can download the game for free and use in-app purchases (if you so choose) to buy various bits and bobbles throughout your time in Ponyville.
The beautiful graphics and the appearance of several actors from the show also lending their voices to the in-game characters lends to game’s authenticity and fun. The gameplay, on the other hand, leaves a bit to be desired (especially if you’re one of the many Bronies that will pick this up).
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is your typical city builder in that you’ll be tasked with using virtual currency and collected gems, harmony stones, and other earned items to build pony homes, businesses, decorations, and the various accoutrements you might need to make your very own personal Ponyville as shiny and flourishing as you might like. You’ll also follow some basic tasks laid out for your stable of ponies, play several simple mini-games (like bouncing a ball back and forth with your pony friends or running around the screen catching falling apples), and search the landscape for additional items.
The game itself is simple enough that my nearly-four-year-old picked it up quickly enough to get to the mini-games (which are, of course, her favorite part) by herself after I, of course, turned off the ability to make in-app purchases on her game. Listen, the last thing I need is a five hundred dollar bill from Apple because my kiddo couldn’t resist purchasing virtual Princess Cadence and Shining Armor characters.
The simplicity of the game, however, is where My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic falls short (at least for this Brony). If you’ve played games like Smurfs’ Village or Snoopy’s Street Fair, then you know how this game works. Without spending real cash, you can only do so many tasks at a time before having to wait a few minutes, hours, or days until you can do them (for free) again. If Gameloft really wants to reach the Brony audience with their game, they’ll need to amp up the difficulty and fun quotient on the mini games as well. Sure, there are some really good little nods to the fandom in the game (one of the easiest to find “hidden” characters is fan-favorite Derpy Hooves), but it’s just not enough to keep us coming back every single day for another round of pony fun.
All that said, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is definitely worth checking out for at least a few hours. The free price tag, gorgeously rendered design, and the inclusion of genuine voice actors gives the game just enough to appease the older fans and the simple guided gameplay and familiar look of Ponyville should make the little ones more than happy. Now, Everypony to the app store!
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