Reading Digest: Tapped Out Is a Bottomless Money Pit Edition


“And to think, Smithers, you laughed when I bought Ticketmaster, ‘Nobody’s going to pay a hundred percent service charge’.” – C.M. Burns
“Well, it’s a policy that ensures a healthy mix of the rich and the ignorant, sir.” – Mr. Smithers

The Tapped Out game continues to be a runaway hit for FOX and EA.  Freemium games that dribble out content in exchange for cash have proven to be goldmines, and the Simpsons one is at the head of the pack, which means that there’s quite a bit of internet discussion about it.  We’ve got a review of the latest expansion, an interview with an EA executive, and an article about the sneaky nature of freemium.  In addition to those, we’ve also got a couple of links to ye olde Simpsons video games, some great fan made stuff, excellent usage, and discussion of television pets and gimmicks.


National Library Week!! – Excellent:

In the meantime, I did a few Instagrams through some old translucent Simpsons trading cards, at a local library. I now share here, to better show how some of us (represented by familiar cartoon icons) relate to our libraries.

Click through for the pictures.  They’re quite clever. 

The Simpsons Season 24 Review "What Animated Women Want" – This is a pretty fair summary of last week’s episode:

It’s a real feat for the late-era The Simpsons to feel even lazier than usual, but, alas, sometimes we still get episodes like “What Animated Women Want,” which rests largely on Lisa acting completely out of character, and a hacky Fifty Shades of Gray reference. It just all felt shapeless. Each side of the episode even got a guest star, neither of whom did much of anything.

Well put. 

The Simpsons’ Cupcake Mistake – And this is just a great way to describe Zombie Simpsons:

I have a habit of spotting continuation mistakes in TV programs, especially ones that are so blatant and sometimes it happens in cartoons/animation, but those aren’t so obvious… unless you’re the increasingly unfunny, hipstertastic Simpsons.

Heh, “hipstertastic”.  And that would explain all the sushi restaurants.

The ‘Malibu Stacy with new hat effect’. – Excellent usage:

Chiefly, what I’m going to pick on is Apple here, as they are the brand I am most familiar with that is guilty of producing these kinds of displays.

Drawing from that endless pool of Simpsons’ analogies, do you recall an episode where Lisa endeavours to make a doll that does not conform to female stereotypes? Shortly before this doll  (Lisa Lionheart) was released, a stand of dolls from monopoly brand Malibu Stacy is wheeled out, diverting the crowd of crazed girls.

“Look, cries one girl, “it’s Lisa Lionheart!”Another encourages them, “Keep running!  We’re almost there!”

They almost make it, except an employee pulls a cart full of Malibu Stacy dolls “with NEW hat” in their path.  They all stop: “They changed Malibu Stacy!” one exclaims.  “She is better than ever!” says another. Lisa tries to point out that the only difference is her stupid cheap hat. “She still embodies all the awful stereotypes she did before!” Smithers is quick to point out, “But she’s got a new hat.”

Perfectly quoted and very astute. 

Uruguay – U R GAY – Lots of people noted this connection when Uruguay went for marriage equality last week, but this one has YouTube. 

Feature: Retro Vault: Castle of Illusion and Bart vs The Space Mutants – Check out this awesome 1992 print ad for Bart vs. The Space Mutants on Genesis.  The copy is . . . unsubtle:

So help me save the earth!  BUY MY GAMES!  Thanks, man.

Month of Nostalgic Video Game Reviews 2 – The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare – Speaking of games from the early 90s:

Man, The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare was probably the first Simpsons game I played and was the strangest one. When I was younger this game used to freak me out a little, I think it was due to the strange nature of the dream universe that Bart was cruising through, some of the locations in the mini games were right weird and the music didn’t help either.

Email Roundtable #21 – No One Likes the Monkey – A Crazy Noises style discussion of TV pets which naturally includes lots of Simpsons discussion, everything from Blinky to Mojo. 

The Simpsons: Tapped Out and the popular world of currency hacks – This is about right:

Many free-to-play games these days do suffer from “unseasonable design.” The Simpsons: Tapped Out is an offender of this. EA only gives away a negligible amount of donuts as a reward for raising your level. This generosity is offset when EA raises the amount of donuts needed to complete a task. Some things can take six donuts to complete instantly. When the game first released, two donuts could be used to speed up the majority of tasks. The Simpsons: Tapped Out is not a player-friendly game. It’s a money pit that takes advantage of Simpsons fans.

Indeed it is. 

We talk to EA about The Simpsons smartphone game and mobile gaming in general – From an interview with an Australian/New Zealand EA executive:

One of EA’s biggest hits recently has been The Simpsons: Tapped Out. What do you think has enabled the game to become such a hit?

MF: There have been a number of contributing factors to The Simpsons: Tapped Out success. The game has been popular as it let new and old fans connect with the show; create their own Springfield with such a great history of characters; receive monthly content updates with tie-ins to episodes and iconic events like Treehouse of Horrors; and it is free to play. The Simpsons is an extremely popular show and has been over its 23 and counting year run on television. Everyone has a favourite episode.

Which episode of The Simpsons is your favourite one?

MF: Personally, mine is the eight episode of season four [“New Kid on the Block”] where Homer gets thrown out of the All-You-Can-Eat Seafood restaurant.

Well, he’s got good taste in episodes, and his ability to switch from execu-speak in the first question to normal English in the second is pretty impressive.

The Simpsons Tapped Out: Whacking Day – About the latest update:

Premium items are pretty bland this time, consisting of mainly vanity items.  There’s a basket of snake eggs, which won’t benefit you, but also an elite Whacking License (up to 10 snakes per friend).  Lumpy is also up for sale at 55 doughnuts, but I’m not sure if he/she/it is a character that just walks around or will be an inanimate object.

Why Bart Simpson Drives the Venezuelan Authorities Nuts – Click through for the picture:

Consider the little-known case of Miguel Ángel Hernández Souquett, a 51-year-old Venezuelan auto mechanic.

On February 5, 2010, at a baseball home game between Venezuela and Mexico, Hernández was arrested by agents of Venezuela’s military for the alleged crime of "offenses against the head of government." His crime? Hernández was wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt emblazoned with the cartoon character Bart Simpson, depicted with his trousers down and exposing his buttocks. Printed in black capital letters it read "Hugo, I shit on your revolution."

Ha.  Well done, sir.

Harry Shearer’s Radio Show Taken Off Air – Lame:

The funnyman has been hosting Le Show on Santa Monica’s Kcrw-Fm since 1983, but station executives have now decided to ditch the programme as part of a massive scheduling overhaul.

Bosses hope to continue distributing the programme as a podcast and for national radio syndication, but Shearer is angry he will no longer be heard on the station which launched the show.

He has even appealed for another local station to take him on, writing in series of posts on Twitter.com, "Any radio station in La want to carry Le Show?… Well I guess that’s the end of my Kcrw affair."

Shearer goes on to encourage fans of Le Show to express their thoughts to station bosses, adding, "Thjx (thanks) to La Le Show listeners for weighing in on Kcrw decision. If you haven’t yet, now’s the time."

Should you be so inclined, this is their contact page and this is their Twitter account.

Our Favorite Simpsons Episodes (with Pics) – A touch of Zombie Simpsons here, but nothing past Season 12.

Do You Only See Homer? – A college student writing about media crams in an impressive number of citations in just a few paragraphs, including this, which I’d never seen before:

As Turner muses, The Simpsons ‘‘has become the new repository of the West’s common metaphors’’ (Turner via Smith 2005).


Full Faith and Credits* – A post about the ways shows modify their opening credits, which naturally includes “the real grand-daddy of the constantly changing credits has to be The Simpsons”.

Best. Episode. Ever. (Round 10) – The 256 episode Simpsons bracket continues.  Here “Lady Bouvier’s Lover” beats “There’s No Disgrace Like Home”.  Elsewhere, “Sideshow Bob Roberts”, “Homer and Apu”, and “The Trouble With Trillions” all advance.   “The Homer They Fall” beat the undisputed king of Zombie Simpsons, “Eternal Moonshine of the Spotless Mind”:

I don’t want to be mean-spirited. I really do think “Moonshine” deserves praise, for its creative plot, elaborate animation and a few good jokes (like the “Ice Age” parody). But this tournament was set up to determine my favorite episode of my favorite TV show, and there are things here I just can’t overlook. The voice acting bugs me, too many of the jokes don’t land, the gimmicky plot is not strong enough to distract from its many holes.

That episode is way more inventive than typical Zombie Simpsons, but it definitely still sucks.

Here’s Conan O’Brien And A Bunch Of Old Writers Talking About The Simpsons – This is just a link to the O’Brien discussion from earlier this week, but it does contain a rather awesome animated .gif of O’Brien and Bart dancing before Bart is told to sit perfectly still.

“The Simpsons” Writers Reunion – Serious Jibber Jabber on Team Coco – This gets it about right:

It’s basically an extra-long DVD commentary (over 80 minutes long!) but for geeks of the show, it’s never dull.

I think Jean was relieved not to have to shoulder the entire discussion like he often has to on the Zombie Simpsons commentaries. 

Video: “The Simpsons” Writers Reunion on Serious Jibber-Jabber w/ Conan O’Brien – I had no problem watching it all the way through:

This may not get too many views and few will sit through the entire 80-minute video (I did) but this is up simply because it’s awesome. For fans of The Simpsons, the world of comedy, and the process and history behind legendary works in entertainment, this is gold.

It is.  (There’s a YouTube version at the link, if you want it.) 

The Simpsons Top 10- Number 9-Mr Plow – Lots of good YouTube here.

Doctor Who Monday: Cold War…In 10 Words – I sure could go for a hundred tacos right about now.

42 (movie)…In 10 Words – I never realized how boring this game is.

Scary Movie 5…In 10 Words – Instead it’s been weird and scary like that movie Police Academy. 

A 10 Word Tribute to Pat Summerall – He was always better than Brent Gunsilman. 

Today Calls for Some of This – Heh:

Yes, it’s Colonel Kwik-E-Mart’s Kentucky Bourbon.

Enjoy responsibly.

The Raven | Dec. 30, 1334 – Even I wouldn’t go quite this far:

A nostalgic read, reminding me of my days at Worthing Sixth Form College studying A-level English literature and great for me to pick-up anytime I want to read a short horror story or poem. It contains the poem The Raven as made famous by The Simpsons.

It was famous before the show, though it does seem that no one can talk about it now without mentioning “Treehouse of Horror”. 

50 most influential TV shows: Coronation Street and Columbo in, but no Mad Men or Sopranos – Unsurprisingly, The Simpsons makes the list.

15. Marge and Homer Simpson on The Simpsons – This is from a clickbait article on the “25 Most Sexual Sitcom Couples”.  That is all.

Homer and Marge Simpson: Greatest TV couple ever – The staff at EW.com gushes over Homer and Marge.  That is also all.

Journey to Double Jaw Surgery – This sounds terrible, but there is relief to be had:

Despite the horrendous nature of my recovery, it was brightened by having movies, lots of The Simpsons to watch, and Legend of Zelda to keep me busy

At least no one can drive her around the South and charge two bits a gander. 

Five Reasons Tina Belcher is the best thing to happen to Animated Televsion in Years – Yeah:

Let’s face facts: Animated Television for grownups is a bit of a barren landscape. Sure, Archer is still going strong into its fourth season and Adventure Time, while not strictly a grownup show, has real emotional moments underneath its absurd hilarity, but The Simpsons is a fraction of the shadow of its former self it used to be

A very small fraction. 

Does Sideshow Bob constitute true artistic excellence? – And finally, I get to end with someone who concisely agrees with us.  Asked for “true artistic excellence”:

Guante, hip-hop artist and educator, went back in time: "Honestly, what comes to mind right away — one of the reasons I am such a big critic of everything — is because I remember Seasons 3 through 10 of ‘The Simpsons,’ which is so well-written and well-constructed and incredible that it is hard to like anything else."


10 Responses to “Reading Digest: Tapped Out Is a Bottomless Money Pit Edition”

  1. 1 Chris
    19 April 2013 at 2:57 pm

    The currency hacks for Tapped Out reminds me of the “So You’ve Decided to Steal Cable” pamphlet Homer gets. “Myth: Cable piracy is wrong. Fact: Cable companies are big, faceless corporations which makes it okay.”

  2. 2 Sumguy
    19 April 2013 at 3:30 pm

    A recent Zero Punctuation review of Lego City: Undercover referenced The Simpsons Season 20 as “the worst Simpsons episodes.”

  3. 19 April 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Nothing better than Simpsons pre-12th season :)

  4. 19 April 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Thanks for quoting me! Great post; very interesting look at the new developments of the Simpsons empire of today.

  5. 5 Sarah J
    19 April 2013 at 7:19 pm

    What, no mention of The Simpsons arcade game?

    Anyway, I’m not a fan of freemium games. I purchased extra levels on Disney’s “Mittens” game but that was at least worth the price, and I don’t have to keep paying. I only got my iPhone recently so I only just learned about The Simpsons: Tapped Out through an ad. I looked it up to see if it was worth getting but I decided against it due to the whole “freemium” thing.

  6. 19 April 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Also thank you very much for quoting us :)

  7. 7 Monty Python Forever
    20 April 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Apple’s policies really are summed up quite well by that quote, though more like an 800% markup to not play games. It is proof that monopolies, whether on sales or the market, are evil. Myth: Apple is a kind company that helps the common man become computer savvy, and Microsoft is a monopolistic greed factory. Truth: Apple monopolizes all its sales, and charges ten times as much as the many competing P.C. companies. Steve Jobs was a monster, Macintoshes have no games, and Microsoft is a monopolistic greed factory.

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