Family Guy is an easy target for snobs who think their personal tastes are universal. Despite its often maligned reputation the show has been a major part of American pop culture since 1999, spreading dark jokes across the airwaves with a gleeful lack of concern for the offended. Now the show has hit the iOS store with a new game featuring some familiar gameplay dynamics. To paraphrase Family Guy's own reference formula "remember that time you played Simpsons Tapped Out?"
Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff starts off with a beautifully animated sequence that explains why the town of Quahog has been destroyed. It's your job as Peter Griffin to help rebuild the city house by house, resident by resident, and sight gag by sight gag. Building the city and completing quests unlocks new characters, all of whom can gain new powers by gathering experience.
These quests are all built around the show's mythology so be prepared to help Glen Quagmire score unmentionables while getting Peter blacked-out drunk. The sheer number of references to the show's fifteen year history is staggering. If you're a loyal viewer all of your favorite characters will make an appearance, be it in the background or via controllable quests. Along the way you'll collect money and golden clams to help speedup gameplay.
Accomplishing goals takes time, unless you're willing to use the in-game currency to speed things along. Here's where my major issue with the title comes around. The developers were kind enough to include a large amount of money and golden clams along with my review copy. I've played the game as both my normal poor blogger self and as one of the 1%. There is no comparison between the two games. One literally asks you to watch two dudes take a nap for six hours, the other allows you to pay a little scratch to laugh at the joke for the appropriate twenty seconds and move the heck along. Still those little transactions add up.
Building/quest time can be cut in half by purchasing golden clams. These will run you anywhere from $1.99 for 50 to $99.99 for 3,500 clams. New houses/items are bought with money which ranges from $1.99 for 500 coins to $99.99 for 35,000 coins. Doing the math if I'd been playing with my own money, instead of supplied "review" in-game currency, my optimal in-game experience with Family Guy would have cost roughly $100. Now granted I sat down to play in blocks of ten to fifteen minutes as opposed to playing for five minutes every six hours. For some players, the game's pace will never require them to pay out of pocket. For others, it will be a nightmare until they lay down some cold hard cash.
It's possible to earn golden clams within the game itself by sharing on Facebook and accomplishing tasks. Thankfully money is generously handed out with each completed task, while buildings give out small monetary gifts every few hours. Building your own version of Quahog is a blast when you can properly fund it.
I still get a palpable sense of joy from seeing each beautifully animated character living their life in my own odd little creation. Long time fans will love being able to have their own Crippletron behind their house, until they do the math and realize the 750 golden clams it costs adds up to roughly $25 in real world currency. That's just one item in the game's store. There's tons to buy, but who exactly has the money to throw this kind of scratch around in a iOS store game?
If Simpsons Tapped Out is any indication there are plenty of people willing to shell out to rebuild their favorite game worlds. That title passed the $100 million mark in revenue within its first year of existence.
If you have the money to throw around or the sort of staggered work day where you'll only be playing for five minutes every six hours anyway, Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff is a blast. The graphics are gorgeous, accurately recreating your favorite characters down to every idle butt scratch. Most importantly it's funny with the same sense of "morals be damned" darkness that brought the show back to TV after it was canceled the first time. You will laugh regularly and feel terrible about it just as often.
Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff makes me long for a proper world-building game using these characters. This is a fun sandbox to play in, one that could easily be expanded into a full game that doesn't require constant in-app purchases to make progress without waiting hours. It's frustrating, but only because it's a good game. If you have the time/patience/money to make progress there's a lot to discover within. Just remember to bring your wallet, and leave your morals at home.