It’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights. It’s time to tap and wait and tap and wait for “My Muppets Show” to finish building the next Muppet.
Disney Mobile released this free-to-play app by surprise in June, and I only recently got a chance to sink my puppet-loving teeth into the game. I expected your typical “tap and wait” type game like My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic with ridiculous paywalls after a while, but I found that My Muppets Show is a very odd beast in the F2P/Freemium app realm.
You start the game out in a deserted and cluttered Muppet Theater, and you are tasked with the unenviable chore of restoring it to its former glory. You start with one Muppet, Animal, who will play a pretty catchy drum beat over and over which somehow generates coins. Thankfully you can mute any of the Muppet that get on your nerves without impacting your cash flow… Might I suggest immediately muting Miss Piggy? (She’s not reading this right? Good.) Your Muppet can be leveled up with food, so they generate coins quicker. Food is bought with coins and then fed to the Muppet, which get you more coins, so you can buy more food and decorations to make the Muppets happy, which makes them generate more coins, which lets you get more food…..it is like a windmill of the mind!!
Soon you get the opportunity to bring in more muppets through the jarringly un-muppet-like Fire Truck/Slot Machine/Robot thing, Harv-E. Combining muppets takes a while, depending on which muppet you will be getting from the materialization device after Harv-E does his thing. So you know if you only have to wait 3 minutes, it is yet another Durwood Clapper, – a generic clapping muppet – and if you need to wait 6 hours, it must be one of the main cast.
Of course you can always spend diamonds to speed things up.
This is where things get wonky.
Unlike most titles, the game continually rewards you with both gems and coins for various achievements and mission rewards. After a while I noticed I was accumulating a serious amount of diamonds without even trying. I started using them to get more muppets and those muppets got me more diamonds, and my quest went from “fix the theater” to “figure out what gets me the most diamonds without spending money.” This change in my game philosophy took me out of the game and I began to meta-game. I found the combinations for the muppets easily online and saved myself much headache. While amassing tons of gold and muppets, I finished clearing the obscenely expensive (and time-consuming) dumpsters from the stage I realized I was running out of things to do. The game remedied this by congratulating me on opening up a new set! Now we get to do the same thing all over again, this time in the Swedish Chef’s Kitchen!
Removing trash is quite a bit more expensive in the kitchen set, and all the muppet recipes seem to take much longer. Oh, I didn’t mention? You have to re-materialize all your previous muppets for some odd reason. Now normally I would realize I hit the paywall and drop a couple bucks to see how far my money would go, but I had no reason to. The game had trained me over the course of maybe 4 days to not spend money, and just be smarter with diamond usage to continue the perpetual cycle of feeding, tapping, and clearing garbage.
This isn’t to say the game is bad, but it wasn’t designed in the way that most of the crop of f2p games are these days. The game wants your money obviously, but being moderately patient pays off more than anything. Since it doesn’t beat you over the head with the demands for money and hands out the diamonds more frequently than similar games, it makes the game a bit too easy.
This is a frightening example of what happens when people get their wish for a freemium/f2p game that uses premium currency to enhance the gameplay. It is pretty boring. There was never an urge for me to buy coins or gems since there was no real need. I knew the game would hand them out in a reasonable amount of time, so I just would wait. There was no penalty for ignoring the game for 12 hours, so I just made sure to check it a couple of times a day to harvest my farm crops coins from my Muppet performers, and to keep the food vendors generating food at all times to maximize profits.
My Muppets Show does capture some of the charm of the show in the visual style as well as using incredibly catchy tunes for the core game performance that will stay in your head longer than you would like. A neat touch is that they brought out a few new muppets and a few classics for the fans. All the voices are there, and they are either using the current performers like Steve Whitmire, Dave Goelz, and Bill Baretta, or they got some solid impressionists to do the scat-style singing the muppets do throughout the game.
There are many nods to longtime fans, especially when it comes to props and each muppet’s favorite items. Rowlf has his sleepy bust of Beethoven, Kermit has his reception desk as well as his Banjo, and Piggy has her makeup station. So there are good things and some things that are simply odd.
I can’t say the game is bad because it is at heart a typical freemium game, but it just hasn’t figured out the actual pay portion yet. A nice touch is cloud saving. After having to restore my phone due to some problems I was having, I thought my progress would be gone, but I was pleased to discover that it saved to GameCenter, so I just headed to options and loaded my game.
My advice? Download the game, give it a shot and within a week or two, delete it, then wait a few months before trying it out again, and maybe then the third “coming soon” set will be available. (As of this writing in September it hasn’t, and it has been “coming soon” since June)
I think I hear the angry pounding of a pig’s hooves at my door. I don’t want to get karate chopped so I will end things here!