Just what everyone needs -- a tiny mobster in their pocket! Right? That way, no matter where you are, you know that you’ve got backup in your pocket to help deal with any sticky situation. But is Pocket Mobsters, by Massive Damage, the game you want backing you up?

You play as a Chicago mob boss. You can recruit other members to join your mob team, spend tokens to train and upgrade their attacks, and then hit the town ready to fight rival crews or shake down people for money and info. The graphics are of the old school, 8-bit variety, and they’re quite cute.

Pocket Mobsters is a free to play game with light RPG elements. Before you groan and moan (like I did), when I discovered the game is “free to play,” this one doesn’t hound you for money as badly as some of the other “free to play” games. Don’t get me wrong, it holds its grubby little hand out for money plenty, but not every time you take an action or make a move, so that’s refreshing. Plus, it’s pretty generous with in-game coinage, so really, the only reason to purchase any additional items is if you’re too impatient to earn them yourself. Energy is required to play, and you start off with a maximum of 100, and while that may seem generous, each action takes a minimum of 10 energy, so it quickly runs out. If you want to keep playing you’ll have to wait or fork over the dough. A little patience never hurt anyone, but when you’re in a groove and sucked into what you’re doing at that moment in the game, having to pay money to keep playing makes you feel like the victim of one of your own shakedowns.

Also, the mobsters run on morale. If their morale gets low during a fight, you have to feed them “Happy Juice” to give them a boost, otherwise you’ll lose the fight. And yes, Happy Juice is an item that requires purchasing.

The fights actually have some choices that reflect the skill of the player, more so than most other games like this, but skill is definitely not a major factor here. You can pick which member and which attack you want to unleash, then watch as the enemies take their turn. The shakedowns have light action elements to them, but they, too, require very little of the player.

Pocket Mobsters has an impressive online game community. You can join other cartels or create your own, and recruit online friends to join you. One drawback to this, however, is that you must be connected to the internet at all times to play this game -- even if you aren’t playing with others. The internet is everywhere, but sometimes you just aren’t in a place where you can connect. The game comes equipped with a global chat room, which is neat… but you have to use tokens for each message you want to send. There’s that grubby little hand again.

Overall, Pocket Mobsters is a decent game. Anyone wanting to play with others in an online community will probably enjoy it, but know that it could cost you some money. The graphics take you back to the olden days, and the music is upbeat and fantastic. The fights and shakedowns become a little repetitive, but it is free to play so it doesn’t hurt to check it out and see if it tickles your fancy.


App Store Link: Pocket Mobsters for iPhone & iPad | By Massive Damage, Inc | Price: Free | Version: 1.0 | 23.7 MB | Rating 12+

6.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating