The Simpsons: Tapped Out

Electronic Arts Inc.

Android and iPhone/iPad

Before EA needed to dig out of the rubble that is its newest SimCity game, the company struggled with another city-building title. After a highly problematic start on iOS a year ago, a polished The Simpsons: Tapped Out arrived on Android last month. It’s a basic construction and management game—build buildings, decorate your city, and collect currency and XP from timed events and missions—but Tapped Out invigorates the repetitive-game model with the famous cartoon’s characters and lore we’ve known for more than two decades. It’s fun to watch Milhouse fly his model airplane perfectly level while Mr. Burns conspicuously hides nuclear waste around town. In-game items tie in with new episodes, but since they’re often cool props and occasionally obtainable outside of real-world microtransactions, the self-promotion avoids becoming a completely annoying moneymaking scheme. Delayed gratification fuels this genre—the building you can finally afford won’t finish construction until tomorrow—but controlling a faithful recreation of The Simpsons’ world gives us the patience to keep playing. However, a few odd design choices—buildings can face only west or south and there is no way to mute game alerts—are beyond frustrating. Comparatively though, SimCity players would scoff, “Don’t have a cow, man!”