App Assessment: My Little Pony (iOS)

Now you can afford the chance to rebuild the town of Ponyville the way you want with Gameloft’s My Little Pony.

The vaguely titled “My Little Pony” by Gameloft is a city-management simulator we’ve seen so often as casual games, but this one is mainly aimed at fans of the latest animated series, “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, keeping in mind that this generation has garnered the attention of more than just little girls, there are also the bronies and pegasisters, late-teen to adult fans of the show.

Nightmare Moon has returned to bring darkness to Ponyville, which has mysteriously reset itself. It is up to head-honcho Twilight Sparkle and her friends to rebuild their beloved town, one patch of land at a time.

The gameplay is pretty standard for a sim like this. You buy your pony friends off the store, work them to the bone and earn the precious coins, in this case “bits”, and XP to buy and unlock more pony friends and work establishments. Play mini-games with your ponies to boost their star-level and open more working opportunities for them.

The graphics are laid out in an isometric form, with buildings and Ponyville citizens in 3D. Original voices are laced around the characters in the game and the soundtrack, from the original composer of the show. Your ponies prance around the sun-lit areas of your town autonomously, and I was surprised to see them actually interact with each other, totally unscripted. I kid you not. They have conversations, wave to each other and perform merry jigs as a group (Gangnam-style?).

You progress the game by fulfilling quests that range from clearing out rocks that block construction to bringing in more ponies to your population. Earning XP unlocks the stuff you can’t reach at lower levels. The other objective relies on the unlocking of the Harmony Stones using the elemental shards you collect as your ponies work.

But the fun will slowly grind to a painful halt. As with most “freemium” games, there is the implementation of in-app purchases. The good games allow you to fulfill tasks and unlock stuff with time and without the need to spend a single cent on premium content. Gameloft’s My Little Pony, however, is not one of those games.

Players will eventually reach quests that require the use of gems, the premium currency earned through purchase or arduously waiting for it to fall from the sky. Without these gems, the quests cannot be completed and the game can’t move on. Gems are also needed if you want to unlock some of your favourite ponies from the show. Most of the “mane” cast are spared, but characters like Rarity, Rainbow Dash and Princess Celestia will cost you some real-world dollars to obtain, even if you’ve levelled up.

Rocks, bushes, dead trees and construction-obstructing parasprites will appear randomly on empty areas of your town after a certain period, acting as a frustrating form of taxation, it seems, since removing them will cost the player their precious bits.

The game is also marred by glitches and server connectivity issues, making social gameplay on GL Live! tough on everyone. It doesn’t detect accurately if you’re actually connected to the internet or not at times. The store also can’t seem to make up its mind whether it wants to host a sale on items, relinquishing all discounts after a short period of time.

Final Assessment: On The Fence
It is such a shame that a game that has that much potential and looks that great to be crippled by these issues. Don’t get me wrong. I totally enjoyed my time on the game speaking as a fan of the show, but all the money-grubbing ruins the gameplay experience, especially if the game was indeed aimed at little girls. One can only hope that a future patch can rectify these issues, otherwise, the party only lasts that long. The game is still free, though. At least we’ll have that.

My Little Pony by Gameloft [iTunes App Store]