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Despite being created by Simpsons mastermind Matt Groening, Futurama, throughout its lifespan, had anything but an easy history compared to the famous yellow family, which saw it being cancelled after four seasons, only to be revived through its cult following for a further three more. At the same time many would argue that it was a stronger show than the Simpsons as it sharply parodied Sci-fi and B-movie culture with Pizza delivery boy Philip J. Fry finding himself accidentally cryogenically frozen in on New Year’s Eve only to be woken up in the year 2999 where he now works as part of the Planet Express delivery crew alongside “Leela” the one eyed ass kicking captain and his foul-mouthed alcoholic robot best friend “Bender”.
Futurama is of course is not the first attempt to adapt this world into video game form with the first coming out in 2000 for Xbox and Playstation 2. Last year we saw the match 4 game Futurama: Games of Drones and now we have Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow where the universe is thrown into chaos when the Hypnotoad falls for a female hypnotoad from another dimension, which serves to create tears across the Futurama universe, scattering the crew of Planet Express leaving it to Fry to find a series of artifacts to reunite the crew and fix the universe.
Nailing down what sort of game is certainly no easy task as you start off with a “tapper” mechanic, which we saw in The Simpsons: Tapped Out, which it also shares a build mechanic with, as you get to rebuild New New York as part of your mission. At the same time we also get elements of space exploration and even a simplified Final Fantasy fight mechanic which sees your selected crew being shrunk into bit-art styled characters as they toss pizza slices or chemical flasks at their opponents depending on the character attacking. Needless to say Jam City whose previous titles include Marvel Avengers Academy and Cookie Jam really have managed to capture the world of the Futurama here.
Bringing back the original writing team there is certainly a sense of instant familiarity which comes with the game as your favourite characters exchange quotes and you play through a variety of scenarios many based on plots from the show which will no doubt raise a few smiles with fans of the show. Of course there is a real thrill in getting to build iconic buildings such as the “Robot Arms Apts.” or “The Hip Joint” which you get to collect funds and supplies from to further your mission.
Funds are accumulated via a number of ways such as collecting rent from the buildings you construct, while you can also have your character perform a variety of trademark actions for additional funds and supplies such as having Bender steal jewellery or having the professor tinker with doomsday devices which all vary in length with the bigger payouts coming from those actions that take longer to perform.
Where the problem comes, as to be expected, is the pay-to-play elements that are so common now it feels like it should be expected any time we enter into one of these supposedly free-to-play mobile games. In Futurama’s case, these walls hit early on as you’re faced with long waits for actions to complete that allow you to progress to the next part. Of course you can always pay Pizza slices to skip ahead which of course will cost you real money. Now for the grinders you can off course just play the waiting game and plot out your gameplay but the temptation to skip ahead is never far away especially when it comes to unlocking characters, which often require the same action performed several times by a character to meet their unlock criteria. As such this is the kind of game you pick up for a quick 15 min burst before queuing up your actions and moving onto something else.
I couldn’t help but feel that this game would have worked better without these walls and instead been a paid for game, especially when faced with such weighty criteria to progress to the next section. Still for fans of the series there is plenty to enjoy here. It’s just a shame that it’s hampered by the usual issues that sadly hit earlier than I would have liked and put me off seeing this adventure through, especially when faced with a mountain of requirements to unlock low-end characters like Scruffy the Janitor.
No doubt entering into this game you will be aware of the usual pitfalls but as far as licenced properties go this is certainly one of the better ones, just one which could certainly have benefited from a few tweeks to make it a little less obvious that it was designed more for the player with disposable cash than the long term grinder.
Game description: Futurama returns for the mobile market in a genre mixing experience hampered by pay to play walls.