I have been in simulation heaven for weeks on ends thanks to The Simpsons: Tapped Out, and although my mind still lingers in Springfield, Pocket Festival has given me a consistently entertaining alternative. The objective is to build a music festival in the middle of an almost empty field. Whether it's hiring talent or building a food stand, the key is to draw a large crowd of fans to watch the festivities. You will also build a plethora of tents to house the public, and basically the more you spend, the better. If you have any discernible passion for music and love simulation games, Pocket Festival should be right up your alley.

The first step in building your festival is to hire the music acts who will take center stage, and if you don't have too much gold coins in the bank, former reality TV star Tina Bing will probably make due for 1,000 coins. For quadruple that amount, you can hire Jimi Hendrix knock off George Hackson to take the stage for two hours and thirty minutes (Bing's stage time is just five minutes). Since I dig a little make-up with my rock, I booked The Spiked Skullz to play a thirty minute set.

There is so much to do in Pocket Festival, and keeping a handle on whether to plant a few trees or make some hot dogs requires a slight level of multi-tasking. If you're a bit confused on what specific tasks needs to be done, the quest board spells everything out. Just follow the guide and everything should go smoothly, and once you're done with your mini-job return to the board, tap on the task you just finished, and collect your reward.

There are tons of ways to make money while conducting your concert - even picking up litter will grant you some decent coinage. On the lower right hand section of your device, the Friends tab will connect you to different festivals, and you can earn cash by planting flags on their grounds or mud bombing their tents. On a purely aesthetic level, you can also see how they've built up their own land and compare.

Generating a steady income and boosting up your experience points are the obvious methods of growing your own festival, but if patience is not your virtue, using up your Amps is the best way to go. Just like Tapped Out's pink glazed doughnut system, Amps turn the building process from minutes to mere seconds. Since the amount of amps given are sparse, you can either use your own money to purchase more amps or actually earn them.

To earn an amp, you click onto the My Music feature in the game, which is a huge reason why Pocket Festival is my biggest app crush. Under My Music, you pick songs that you've previously downloaded onto your device and play these tracks while playing the game. When the festival tokens counter reaches 600, simply click go and you've earned one new amp. The chance to play your own songs is also beneficial if you absolutely hate the music that's coming from the latest act on stage. Bottom line, My Music is an awesome feature that bumps this whole experience to an entirely different level. And yes, Bryan Adams' Heaven is my iPad's go to song.

My only complaint for Pocket Festival is that moving things around can get a bit annoying. To place your a structure or item onto your a specific location, you must drag your finger to that exact spot. Unfortunately, that same finger motion is used to zoom in on the festival grounds, and often those two commands get mixed up.

It's a minor problem for a game with so many attributes. Pocket Festival is an inspired simulation experience that hits nearly all the right notes, and as a free app it easily exceeds expectations.


App Store Link: Pocket Festival for iPhone & iPad | By Chillingo Ltd | Price: FREE | Version: 1.1 | 45.5 MB | Rating 4+

8.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating