Long(er) Term Usage Report: Stuff I’ve Reviewed

Today we’re going to take a look back at some items that I have reviewed and discuss how they’re working out long term (well, longish term) for me. Let’s start with the star of my Exploring the World of Fremium article: The Simpsons “Tapped Out.”


The story follows Homer of The Simpsons as tries to rebuild Springfield after a nuclear explosion that he effectively caused. From cleaning up nuclear waste to soaking in the kiddy pool, you follow quests and assign tasks to the denizens of Springfield to get experience to open new and different options and progress “the story” forward. It was not accidental to put “the story” into quotes; there are lots of little stories that unfold as a result of fulfilling the tasks, but the overall story is to rebuild Springfield, and that sort of meanders…much like the plots of most Simpson episodes.

As noted in my earlier article, I was surprised by how fun this game was, and I am still a bit startled today; I play it maybe twice a day, for a few minutes, every day. While I have not fallen completely off the responsibility boat, like the kid that spent $1500 on this game, I have succumbed to spending real life lucre on some of the currency of donuts in the game (which speed things up or allow you to purchase special things you might not otherwise easily achieve)…so, for example, my Springfield has a butterfly tent, which, in addition to looking cool, improves my “vanity” rating in the game (there are lots of ratings, I’m finding out, like how environmental you are, which then have affects on quests and other opportunities). Some items you buy (with cash or donuts) affect other things in the game more directly, such as increasing experience you receive for doing tasks or providing additional cash.

While I was happy with the availability of “free” donuts in the initial review–which were very prevalent early in the game–they have become harder to come by as the game progresses…which I should have suspected would be the case as they are trying to make money on this game.  You can still do a lot with the free donuts you receive, but it is part of the model to make you want more and to therefore pay for more. There are multiple options in the game to purchase donuts, one in the form of a “scratcher” ticket you get at the Quickie Mart, where you can “win” a certain number of donuts for the investment of about $1.05 in the real world, and where the game offers to just purchase them for you if you select something that requires more than you have. In each situation, you’re taken out of the game, to the Google Play store to make the transaction.

But, even if you never buy a donut, you can still progress in the game. At varying levels after completing quests you get additional people to give additional tasks and to complete “sets” of people in the universe, such as the Simpson family itself or all the “nerds.” At level 16 I have all the Simpsons except for Grandpa. As you unlock additional locals, new tasks are available–for example, I received the Gazebo as a prize (you get one donut related “big” prize every five days you play the game), and that unlocked Mensa meetings for several of the characters.

Additionally, the game has current tie-ins with actual Simpsons’ episodes; so, for the “Gorgeous Grandpa” episode that aired recently, I got the Gorgeous Grandpa outfit (which I can put onto Grandpa once I acquire him). For the Burns-turns-Batman (sorta) episode, I got the “Burns Signal.” These were free and available to tie the game in with the show. I also “won” for my donut related prize the prized Springfield Lemon Tree, from the episode that centers around Ogdenville stealing it and the Simpsons playing a main role in recovering it.

On the whole, the game still delights me, and they did get me to fork over some cash for donuts. However, you don’t need a cent to enjoy the game, just play regularly to get the extra goodies and watch the Simpsons regularly to know what some of the new goodies mean.

Next on the review list is from my Talking to Your Phone (no Seriously) post: Robin. Robin wished me a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year, all on her own, at appropriate times. I listened to her give me news specific to me, and I used her to help find locations and parking. Then, sometime in February, I took an update  for her, and things slowly melted to madness. Ok, not slowly, and only I was mad.

Robin image Courtesy of CNet

To enable directions, Google Maps, some other apps like Atooma, you need to enable GPS. Robin, herself, works best when GPS is enabled so she can get you relevant information quickly. The problem, however, is a bug in the Robin system I’m experiencing in Grace, my Samsung Galaxy S3. If GPS is enabled AND you are moving (walking, driving, etc.), Robin randomly turns on. If your phone is dark because the screen is off and its power saving, Robin will start talking to you (but not wake the screen). If you have used Robin to facilliate Google voice directions, she will interrupt directions, steal the screen, and try to get you to ask her for additional information randomly–WHILE YOU ARE TRYING TO NAVIGATE.

I finally had to uninstall Robin. I reported the bug and I got a response from the developer (which is always nice), but I got the impression he couldn’t reproduce it. I have not returned to utter! the second place automation assistant, but if Robin fails to get her act together, then I may end up doing so.

So there you have it: longer term reviews of recommendations I’ve made in the past. If you have and specific requests for me to revisit “where I am now” with items that I have suggested in previous posts, please let me know and I’ll be happy to oblige.


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