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Android Review: The Game of Life

Mark Webb
United States
Verona
Pennsylvania
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The Stats:
Compatibility: Android Phone
Current Price: $4.99
Developer/Publisher: EA / Hasbro
Version: 1.204
Size: 12MB
Multiplayer: Pass & Play
AI: Yes
Market Link
https://market.android.com/details?id=com.eamobile.life_na_w...




The Good:
- Good looking visuals. 3D rendered animations similar to this game on other platforms like iOS and PC.
- Ability to speed up AI opponent play or skip it altogether.
The Bad:
- Game can basically play itself. Not a lot of decisions to make.
- No variation or options to change game experience
- No Tablet compatibility


Gameplay:
The Game of Life has been an evergreen franchise for Milton Bradley, now Hasbro, since originally printed in 1960. Using a board with plastic built-in scenery and an iconic spinner, the game allows players to simulate the decisions of adulthood, from after high school to retirement.

The decisions in the Game of Life include things such as choosing a career, or choosing a fork in the road leading to one life path or another. Such a fork would be to choose between going to college versus entering the workforce directly. Over the years, the game has been changed to add to the game play. At one time being an all cash affair, where the person with the most money wins, to the current version which includes collecting "Life points" for interesting things you do.

Implementation:
Hasbro and EA do things right in the graphics department for this app. The graphics are nice looking 3D animations of the pieces moving around the board, and the whole look of the app is an extension of the board game experience, matching the art on the cards which is a bit cartoony. The board looks just like the trademark look of the physical game. Also present is the spinner, one of the most remembered and iconic parts of the Game of Life. Spinning the spinner uses your finger on the touch screen making a circular motion akin to dialing a rotary phone. The app then reads the force of your movement on the spinner. Similar to how the audience boos Price is Right contestants that don't make the big wheel go all the way around, the app admonishes you if your spin is too weak. No boos in the app however.

Spin the Spinner, and the app takes care of the rest, moving your virtual plastic minivan around the board. Occasionally something pops up saying that you owed money, or you receive money, and the money amounts are automatically shifted between you, your opponents, and the bank. Once in a while it asks you a question where you must make a decision, such as choosing betwen being a Doctor or a Policeman. I think my biggest beef with this game is that you don't play the game, the game plays you. Beside having to sit through your turn, you also have to sit though your opponent's turn, which is equally non-interesting. Fortunately, that is where I have to give EA some kudos, for adding an option to double the speed of the animations, as well as an option to skip your computer opponent's whole turn. On one of my plays of this app, I was able to go through the entire game in about five minutes thanks to these options. I have played this multiple times without fast forwarding, for the full experience. But when I found the skipping options, I tried once to experiment with how quickly one could cycle through this game.

Conclusion:
As the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's Marvin the paranoid android said, "Life, don't talk to me about Life." His sense of despair is almost the same as what I am thinking about this game. No matter what I did, I could not get any enjoyment out of this game. It just seemed like lather, rinse, repeat, and repeat, and repeat. I do understand that not every game appeals to everyone, and that I may not be the target audience for what is essentially a kids game.

Since this game is to be played by kids, I turned it over to mine for their opinion. I gave nothing of my thoughts on the game to them, just told them that I wanted them to try a game, and walked them through getting the game started, showing them the dialing motion to spin the spinner, and reading any boxes that popped up if they had hard words in them. My eight year old did not see the appeal either. When asked what she thought of it, she said it was "kind of boring". Asked if she wanted to play again, she gave an emphatic no.

My six year old was delighted to play multiple times. It even produced cackles of laughter during one game when she hit the spaces where you have kids many times, getting a grand total of seven. With only a year and a half between the two kids, I think the enjoyability line is pretty thin with this game.

Play of Hasbro's actual game aside, I can't credit EA much here either. The app is pretty bare bones. When the best added feature, is the ability to fast forward, that is not a good sign. The Game of Life has had some themed versions and some rule changes over the years, such as the difference between old versions with cash and the new ones with Life points, or also the Twist and Turns edition, with an alternate board layout. Those might have been able to be the source of some kind of additional tweaks or added features. But unfortunately there are no other bells and whistles or ability to change anything. No house rules, no graphics changes, nothing to add spice to a game that might need it. Also disappointing is that there is no tablet compatibility. It is not even supported to the OS's default stretching of phone apps. It is just not present.

If you have great nostalgia for the Game of Life, this app might be for you. Anyone else, I would not waste the money. I do give it two stars because it does give you the game it means to deliver, I just think there are better ones out there for your gaming dollar.

Rating: 2/4
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Subscribe sub options Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:00 pm
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