Bronies and Pegasisters rejoice! My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic is now available in the App Store, threatening the free time of fans young and old. Does it behoove you to play this game? Or will no amount of cute, equine puns be able to save it?
I can't admit to being a Brony. I have no exposure to My Little Pony other than hearing Tara Strong, voice of Twilight Sparkle, being interviewed by Kevin Smith about the series. So I went into the game with a completely open mind, harboring no expectations at all. What I found was a charming city-builder with good production values and a moderate amount of fun. But was it enough to convert me?
The evil and aptly-named Nightmare Moon (Hah! I get it, Nightmare!), threatens to blanket the magical land of Equestria in darkness. It's up to you to rebuild Ponyville and drive back the encroaching night. You'll help your pony friends erect homes and places of business where they can work to gain "bits", the currency in Equestria. You can then use these bits to buy more buildings, expand the land, and purchase ponies in order for the town to grow.
There are tasks you can undertake to gain bonus bits, coins, and gems, the game's premium currency. These quests are usually tied in with the game's story and often lead to unlocking a new character to welcome to Ponyville. Once a pony has settled in, you can give them jobs or play games with them to help them gain stars. Hiring ponies at a workplace makes that building produce money and experience, much like in other farming games. The mini-games are for leveling up your ponies' star ratings, making them more effective when working.
The three mini-games are Ball Bounce, Apple-Picking, and Magic Wings. Ball Bounce is probably the simplest of the three; you use your finger to swipe at a ball, bouncing it back and forth to a pony. Apple Picking puts you in control of a pony, dashing left and right to collect apples falling from a tree. Magic Wings is a bit like a Jetpack Joyride lite. Your pony is given wings and must fly through the air, dodging storm clouds, passing through white clouds, and collecting bits. If they pass through enough white clouds, they'll gain a boost and the ability to perform a Sonic Rainboom for a short period of time.
In my opinion, the mini-games could have been completely axed from the final game, but there are bound to be fans who'll be raring to bounce a ball to Rarity or Cheerilee. What is most likely to spur players on will be the task of collecting all of the ponies from the show. There are currently 50 characters to collect. Some of the more popular characters, like Princess Celestia, can only be acquired by spending real cash. Others, like Zecora, can be bought with Hearts, the game's social currency that are gained from interacting with friends. But players on a budget can still enjoy seeing fan-favorite Derpy Hooves walking around under a cardboard box, ready to gift them with bits upon tapping.
There's plenty to do in Ponyville. The gameplay may be simple, but it's pretty addictive. Hardcore fans will have a difficult time keeping themselves from shoving their wallets at the screen, especially when it comes to buying popular ponies. It's also tough not to be enamored by the beautiful, clean graphics and the 3D-ish ponies prancing around. The best part is that the cast from the TV show reprise their roles and I was elated to hear Tara Strong ask me to build a Cherry Stand.
I rated this objectively, giving it a 7.5 out of 10 for players who are not versed in the show or are just fans of good builder games. If you're a Brony or a Pegasister, go ahead and add 10 more points to that score. I personally can't seem to stop playing it and am now tempted to give the show a chance, just to see what all the fuss is about. Here's a brohoof to you, George. You may have just inadvertently turned me into a Brony. [My bad, John! —Ed.]