One way ticket to Ponyville.
At this point, we don't know what's more bizarre, the fact that we (as grown men) played My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, or that, oddly enough, we enjoyed it. Perhaps it was the familiar My Little Pony jingle, or the excessive happiness that permeates throughout the entire game. Bottom line, we found ourselves hopelessly addicted to Gameloft's free-to-play effort, to the point where completing missions became somewhat of an obsession. What's that? We need to plan a surprise party for Pinkie Pie? Of course we do. Now go harvest some cherries, Mrs. Cup Cake.
To be fair, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic does little we haven't seen before in the countless world builders populating the App Store. You've got a sizable plot of land on which to build a variety of shops, a plethora of decorations, a literal stable of characters and the familiar virtual currencies, one of which is tougher to obtain.
That said, the app's presentation is but one way Gameloft separates this adorable creation from the pack. First, it stars ponies from the Friendship is Magic television series, like Twilight Sparkle, Applejack and Applebloom. What's especially cool is the voice acting, which we don't often see in games of this type, along with an actual plot, which revolves around the ponies' mission to defeat the evil Nightmare Moon and locate the Elements of Harmony. What's this, a freemium game with a story? We could get used to this.
On top of that, players can put each pony to work with the goal of kick starting the virtual economy and completing missions to earn gold coins (known as Bits) and gems, but here's the catch. To earn the most dough, you must level up these characters by completing a series of mini games. Nothing fancy, mind you. One involves keeping a ball in the air, while another tasks you with guiding a pony back and forth across the screen to catch apples falling from trees. The more you interact with these ponies, the more stars they obtain, which clears them to work on more time-intensive (AKA lucrative) jobs. Bottom line, there's a huge difference between harvesting cherries to earn 60 Bits, versus baking cherry pies for 90.
In addition, Friendship is Magic is much more forgiving than most world builders. Gameloft generously supplies a bunch of gems right from the start to help speed things along, and we reached level 10 in roughly an hour. Granted, there's definitely an emphasis on making in-app purchases for Bits and gems, but since this is a game clearly aimed at children, the developers were wise to not come off money hungry.
The visuals, meanwhile, look surprisingly good and remain faithful to the show. The My Little Pony world overflows with color from every pixel on the iPhone and iPad screen, and the resolution doesn't suffer when you pinch to zoom.
Throw in a seemingly endless supply of missions, and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic easily trounces the competition. Not only does it honor the source material, but it's also a great game to boot. Naturally, it's a wonderful app for little girls and fans of the show. That notwithstanding, even some big kids may get a kick out of it.
What's Hot: True to the television show, impressive voice acting and plot, mini games to level up ponies, a wealth of missions to complete, easier than most world building games, free-to-play.
What's Not: Waiting for things.